Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Devices, Gadgets and Gear, Oh My: The iPad 2 3G

In my second post in this series I explained how a smaller tablet you have with you can be better than a larger one you left at home because it was too much to carry around. In this post I will look at my iPad 2 (3G) and try to explain how a larger tablet is a useful tool as well.

The iPad was the first tablet to really capture the market. There were many many attempts at tablets before the iPad, I even had a few of them. Apple seemed to hit the balance just right at the perfect time but I couldn't see the point myself.

When the iPad came out I didn't understand why anyone would want a fat iPod touch. I continued with this opinion until I finally found the app that sold me on an iPad. This app was a digital comic book reader, When I saw my first comic book on the iPad screen I was hooked. I had been reading digital comics on my computer for some time, I had converted all of my paper comics to hi-res digital comics over the past year or so and I was looking forward to being able to take them mobile. I didn't of course think about the difference between the 1TB drive in my computer and the 32GB in my iPad. I couldn't take that many comics with me after all. The next application I saw that made the iPad more desirable was Zinio Digital Magazines. I had been using Zinio since a "convertible tablet" HP laptop I had years ago, but the lighter, brighter, sharper iPad made it so much better. The last application to sell me on an iPad was video; the screen on the iPad was large enough to make watching movies mobile worthwhile.

I had the original iPad and used it for about a year before I decided to upgrade to the iPad 2. The iPad 2 had more of everything that made the iPad great. I took this opportunity to add 3G and up the storage to 64GB. Faster, brighter and with more storage the iPad 2 was almost perfect. The only real issue I had was the relatively low resolution screen (1024x768) which I still think is too low for a 9+ inch tablet. The retina display on the  iPad 3 and 4 (3.5?) was a vast improvement but the new screen along with a slightly faster processor and better graphics chip-set didn't impress me enough to make the update worthwhile. Had I known they were going to change the dock connector I would have upgraded to the 3 before they made the 3.5 and changed the connector. Since I do NOT want the new connector I have to stay with the iPad 2

Not that staying with the iPad 2 is a bad thing. It is a very nice tablet, fast with a lot of storage. The screen is sharp and bright, if low-res. At least you can watch 720p video on it, down-converted of course.

I mostly use my iPad at home now, in place of a laptop (or a Chromebook) on the couch or in bed where the traditional laptop form factor is less than ideal. As I wrote about in my last post (Nexus 7) the iPad's strength which is it's size is also its most annoying drawback. To carry around the iPad I might as well carry a full laptop or Chromebook and get more functionality in the same inconvenient form factor (in a sleeve of course). At home however it shines why have a laptop sitting on what can only be called my lap, when I can grab the instant on iPad and do whatever I need to do. I still use the iPad to read magazines and comic books since none of the other devices I have work really well for this. Movies are watchable on most 5.5 or larger devices, but the 9 inch screen on the iPad still makes for a better viewing experience.

Working with the iPad is easy if you add a Bluetooth keyboard and a good case using the iPad is like having a laptop with you. Of course you then have to carry around a keyboard as well. There are many office choices for the iPad, my personal favorite was the Apple written Pages and Numbers. When was available it was a perfect solution for sharing documents. There are remote desktop applications, VNC applications, and network tool-kits that let you get most everything else done you might need. I even have an application called GetConsole which along with a custom cable allows me to console into the Cisco networking equipment I support at work to configure and repair them without having to bring along a heavy laptop.

One of the features I wish Apple had incorporated into the iPad was an active digitizer. The one thing that would make me sell the iPad and get a Galaxy Note 10 is the fact that I can write directly on the screen and take notes (in Evernote) in handwriting. While you can attempt this on an iPad, the palm rejection is horrible and most stylus do not lend themselves to writing with any precision since they have to have a very large contact surface in order to register on the iPad screen. I have a Jot stylus which is the best for precision on the iPad since the tip is large enough to register but is clear and connected to a pen size point on the actual stylus. If you must use a stylus on your iPad I highly recommend the Jot.

Probably the biggest reason to use an iPad is the selection of games and applications that are just not available for Android yet. Games like Ticket to Ride, Fluxx, Magic the Gathering, Lost Treasures of Infocom, and many others, none of which are available on Android yet. When the balance shifts and games and applications launch on both, or Android first then iPad might be in trouble, until then Apple doesn't have much to worry about.

In closing, if you don't have a 9ish inch tablet, the iPad is a no brainer, if you already have an Android tablet I can't really see a reason to change.

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