Wednesday, April 18, 2012

iPad 2012, My Thoughts After One Month Hands-on

For two years I waited patiently. Because for me, jumping into the tablet market was a question really of when not why.  Once I took the plunge, the iPad has proven to be as powerful a productivity tool, as it is for consuming media, playing games and taking photos. The third generation iPad makes a strong showing and seeks to continue its domination of the tablet market.

The tablet, a portable computer device sized between a smartphone and a laptop, typically has a touchscreen/stylus user interface.  So basically it is hardly a necessity, especially if you already own a smartphone and/or a computer.  Something you don't need, but you won't mind owning one if you overcame the psychological barrier of need versus want.

First impressions? It's got lots of grace. Now work with me on this.  Grace is effortless beauty and elegance of form, manner, motion or action.  And I did not make this definition up, it just happens to really capture the touch and feel of the 3rd iteration of the iPad.

Why did I get one now? I caved under the weight of the triple threat. That retina display, all told, over 3 million pixels, working hard to put the resolution in Hi-Res. And second, the A5X dual core processor which powers the beast.  It is kind of like a Hemi engine, very responsive. Third, the back facing camera rendering 5- megapixel isight camera that outperformed my 8-megapixel  panasonic lumix in daylight conditions.

I find that increasingly, it has become my device of choice for browsing, reading emails, books etc. The games optimized for the iPad are excellent time-killers. The Airplay feature that allows you to transmit media from the iPad over Wi-Fi to your TV is one of my favourites.

Myths? The iPad over heats. It gets warm over prolonged use (a few hours) but never in my experience, hot enough to be uncomfortable to hold, as is commonly the case with laptops. Second,  the ipad is a stand alone computer.  The iPad is not about to stand in for all your computer needs. The platform is built for apps only so if you can't find an app for the task you have to accomplish, I can see how one will be quickly frustrated.  I should quickly add that  with the over half a million apps available in the apps store, there is not much work out there you can not find an app for- many of them at a little cost.

Are there any negatives or stuff I don't like about the iPad? Umm yeah.  There is no flash support, and lousy Facebook integration seems to bug me the most. And a tonne of proprietary barriers, and if you are no computer gymnast you may not find jumping all those extra hoops amusing. I am thinking if Apple is going to have seamless  integration for the much less popular Twitter, they should be doing same if not more for Facebook integration into the iOS platform.

And then there is typing on the keyboard. That is opening a can of worms, because it reduces the user to a hunt-and-poke typing technique. The lack of tactile cues and haptic feedback makes the experience quite onerous to say the least.  I will rather type on the Macbook pro any time.  But Apple has gone to lengths to offset the challenges posed by the virtual keyboard.  You can split the keyboard into a more ergonomic format reducing wrist strain and repetitive stress complications.

The Apple solution to typing on the keyboard that I really like is the voice dictation feature, that once enabled in settings, will transcribe quite accurately on your behalf. While this is no Siri, it works well if you enunciate well and your accent is not too strong. Of course the auto correct feature offers a half-hearted help to the typing efforts as well.

My overall impressions of the product is a positive one.  I think it is a keeper for me.  I am hoping to wow my little nieces and nephew when I go to Edmonton sometime this spring, and it would have paid for itself right there!!

There are very appealing tablet alternatives in the Samsung Galaxy Tab which is based on the Android platform, and there is also the Blackberry Playbook.

I will do subsequent posts on some of the tricks, tips and fun/productivity apps soon, so visit again...