Saturday, March 24, 2012

Tech review - so just what good is the iPad, anyways?

Loralee has a post up describing her longing for an iPad.  As someone who really likes shiny stuff I completely understand.  The comments cover the entire love Apple/hate Apple spectrum, but one of the themes I notice is: My phone does every thing the iPad does.  Related theme:  It doesn't do what my laptop does.

So, what does the iPad have that the iPhone doesn't?  In short, a bigger screen.  That's pretty much it.  Almost all of the apps available for the iPad run or have versions that run on the iPhone.  That being said, is the larger screen worth it?  If you're going to be surfing the web a lot, it is nice, and text entry is easier than on a phone.

The down side is that since the apps are very phone like, they tend to be limited compared to what you find on your laptop.  Things like document processing and photo or video editing are possible, but not generally as well supported as on a laptop.  Even in terms of size, with the 11" MacBook Air available (at a higher price, of course) it's difficult to make an argument for portability. 

Where the iPad does come on strong is in the special purpose applications.  For example, they've taken the flying community by storm.  There are apps like available that support flight planning, provide charts and moving map displays that are half the price of the purpose built electronic flight bags.

If astronomy is an interest, apps like SkyORB provide current sky charts for your location.

There's lots of education apps that are well suited to the screen size.

While it come with the iBooks app, other readers like Kindle and Stanza are available for free.  I actually use all three - I like the way iBooks handles pdf documents so I have Army and aviation publications in it.  Stanza is great for non Amazon ebooks, and is my preferred reader for getting public domain books from Project Gutenberg (yes, you can get them from Amazon, too, but they're harder to search for.)  The Kindle app is nice in lower light and for ebooks with pictures and maps.  Did you know that the ebooks have much better quality than you can see in the Kindle book readers?  The battery life is much shorter that the basic Kindle, though.

OK,  Angry Birds HD and Solitaire are pretty awesome, too.  Sheesh...

The iPad 2 is a little faster than the original, and the newest iPad has a better display, and is 4G.  There are some additional features on the newer versions, but the improvements are incremental.  Unless you really need the additional performance, an earlier iPad may suit your needs for less money.  So to wrap it up, I don't think the iPad is a replacement for either the phone or computer, but if you have the need for a tablet size application, it may do the trick.  Otherwise, it's a fun toy, but probably one you can live without.

1 comment:

Loralee Choate said...

Great review. (I would LOVE. Having a bigger screen!) And thanks for the Slinky love! Xo