Nick’s iPad Review

My brother, Nick is a pretty big Apple fanboy, a breed of people I generally disagree with. He just bought an iPad, but didn’t get on with it, selling it after a couple of weeks.

Surprised by this, I thought it would be interesting to hear his take on it in a review…

Steve Jobs with the iPadA New Market

Steve Jobs said, at the announcement of the iPad in January 2010, that it is only possible to make a successful new market by being “far better at some things” than neighbouring markets.

My experiences with the iPad 2 show an amazing, innovative, well thought out product. For people who buy coffee table books, or only browse the web at a very basic “let’s check facebook” level, it’s pretty ace.

However, it’s neighbouring markets are smartphones, and laptops. It’s too big to fulfill some of the key needs of a phone – if you have the capacity to carry a tablet, you probably have room for a laptop – and its not got the versatility of a full PC. So, for the average geek, it probably fails to fully displace these markets.

Appearance

The iPad 2

The look of the iPad 2 is really, really good, and it fits into your hand beautifully – so slick and futuristic, you feel like someone out of Star Trek. Apple have put a lot of money into making it light and thin (so much so, at launch the iPad 2 was worth more than it’s weight in silver). The build is thin, which may excite some people, but the general size is still too big to easily carry around for long periods, which means you have to get a bag (may I recommend the Cool Bananas 24Seven).

But, as said, it does look very nice, and if that’s your thing, this is perfect. The build quality it top notch: solid, thin, light and sturdy – not a millimetre of bending if you lift it up from one corner. The only definite complaint is that the curved back forces the volume buttons and the cable socket round quite an awkward corner, and it’s hard to plug in the charger cable.

The screen looks great, with viewing angles as close to 180° as makes no difference, and the colours are solid. The gloss finish feels very nice, and the screen is bright enough to prevent the majority of glare. Videos looks amazing. The sound quality is surprisingly deep considering how thin the speakers have to be, and Jobs’s claim of a month of standby battery charge seems to be very accurate.

Software

The operating system is great and really is very intuitive, if restrictive. If you’re used to an iPhone or iPod touch, then this is no different, there are a few quirks which really could and should be ported to the smaller Apple devices (for example the brightness can be adjusted from the multitasking bar).

But for the most part, Apple’s control of both hardware and the software works really well in the mobile market. There’s very few times where it slows down noticeably, and there are enough well thought out tricks that Apple have put in to make using it a little easier.

In a recent update they allowed the keyboard to be split, meaning that if you are holding the device in two hands you can type fairly effectively with your thumbs. However, the keyboard can be moved up the screen which means that it can block whatever you’re typing into and having this happen sometimes seems to be the best compromise.

Sadly, I found that typing for any period of time really makes your hands ache – I’ve heard a lot of people mention that buying a bluetooth keyboard sorts out this problem. But with a tablet this expensive should you have to buy more kit to make it work…?

Cameras

Nick holding an iPad

The cameras are adequate, although the outward facing camera is higher quality than the one facing the the user. While this seems pretty understandable, the only time I used the camera was to take photos of myself, or to use Facetime, so it would be better if the user-facing camera was of a higher quality.

It’s also important to remember that you look like the idiot on the right (me) every time you take a photo. The lack of a flash also ruins a lot of perfectly good photos, unless you’re standing in bright sunlight.

Ultimately, with flash enabled camera phones producing such high quality pictures in comparison, there’s practically no point in using the iPad 2 for this purpose.

Useability

All the above is irrelevant without asking the question – how is it to use? The answer is that it’s really nice to use, initially. I would come home and plop on the sofa and pick up my iPad and check my facebook, load up some news websites, no problems.

But within a few minutes, I would get frustrated having to switch apps, tired of clunkily changing between sites. I inevitably ended up switching to my laptop after about 10 minutes.

The bottom line is that in no way can the iPad replace even a basic laptop or netbook. It makes a very good companion but it can’t compete. So… anyone want to buy an iPad?

Blog redesign

Why Not Actually Finish Something You Have Started?I’ve been planning on a blog redesign for at least 6 months now: probably more.

Not much has happened.

A kick up the bum

I got all excited, I made a design, and then I did about a day’s work on the CSS. And then nothing. In order to nag myself into getting more done, I have decided to launch the unfinished theme. This is it. As you can see, its a little rough round the edges.

Shamed into action

The hope is that I will actually want to have a working site, and will thus push on with, well, finishing it.

“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.”

Paul J Meyer

Multiple header sizes…

Are an important part of website design

Even though I never…

…use ones this small!

Things I could do

As you may realise, I’m also using this post to throw a variety of elements into the blog, so I can check I have styling for them all. I also need to display some numbered and bulleted lists, but I can’t think of a relevant list to write. So, instead…

My favourite colours:

  • Blue
  • Purple
  • Golden Yellow
  • Black

Least favourite books ever:

  1. Granddad with Snails
  2. The Go Between
  3. Not really got any others.

The end of the post

Thanks for reading! Keep nagging me to finish this!

Five places to waste your time

Have you got a list of a million items on your to do list? Welcome to my world…

The internet is a wonderful invention, but it can be used for good or evil. In the midst of trying to get stuff done, I’m constantly distracted by other things to click on, to read, to learn about.

“It’s a job that’s never started that takes the longest to finish.”
~J. R. R. Tolkien

Twitter is my absolute No 1 stop for distraction, but its such an amazing/terrible invention that I’ll give it a post all its own at some another time. For now (and as a further piece of procrastination) here is a list of five of my favourite sites for wasting my time:

Lifehacker

Lifehacker is a fantastic place to read interesting articles about becoming more productive. It’s hacking your life: literally trying to reset how we function, and find more efficient ways of living life. Of course, if you mostly just read Lifehacker when you should be working, its going to be, rather depressingly ironically, totally counterproductive.

Favourite bits:  Why Coffee May Not Be HelpingWallpaper WednesdaysAlways Up To Date Guide For Rooting Any Android Phone, The Headphone Cable Hack

Slashdot

Slashdot logo

Slashdot was named specifically to be annoying to pronounce. Try saying ” HTTP colon slash slash WWW dot SLASH DOT dot ORG” – fun, eh? That’s pretty geeky, and a perfect introduction to the site, which gives news about tech, web and geekdom, with a slant towards open source. I find it a great place to fantasise about having the tech chops to be a true sysadmin – even if I suspect I’ll never get further than running my own home server.  The comments are also always detailed, informative and entertaining.

Favourite bits: Ask Slashdot - users post their own technical challenges for community help, Slashdot Polls – see large scale responses to tech questions that relate to life. Also, check out the Quotes right at the bottom of each page.

Engadget

Engadget logo

A lot more polished than Slashdot, Engadget is my place to learn about all the exciting new shiny gadgets that are coming to the world over the next few months. Despite the fact I never buy any of them, and generally have no desire to own one, I still read in depth reviews of new phones, laptops and gizmos frequently, when I could be better spending my time.

Favourite bits: Generally just enjoying reading the latest articles, but the Reviews are my favourite, regardless of the item. Engadget is also my preferred source of Liveblog when there’s a new Apple/Google/Palm/etc launch event.

BBC News & Timeslive

BBC & Times live logosAs a little bit of a news addict, I tend to visit two main sites: BBC News for my UK hit, and Timeslive for South African snippets. The BBC are blatantly the best news organisation in the world, and their site is a testament to that – its currently the fifth most visited site in the UK. Whilst less well written, I enjoy visiting the SA Times website to get an inside flavour of how things are going in South Africa: since we are planning to move there, its good to know when a government department can’t account for £100 million of its budget.

Favourite bits: The front page of each is my main port of call, but I also rather enjoy the BBC’s Science & Environment section, and Times Live coverage of SA Politics. When I want to feel especially low, BBC Sport are always there for me with the latest Orient scores

Reddit

Of all the sites mentioned here, Reddit is the only one I’m slightly ashamed of. The self styled “front page of the internet”, it is a community, much like Slashdot, where articles and links are upvoted to gain precedence on the site. However, it has a much more puerile mix of images, links and comments. I’m a recent convert from Digg to Reddit, and whilst I spend less time on reddit than on the others above, it’s definitely a good destination if you urgently need to put off doing something. I refuse to register an account or I’ll never get anything done again!

Favourite bits: The never ending stream of irrelevance that is the front page, but also AskReddit, where people present their real world problems and are *generally* supported, encouraged and helped, with a sprinkling of sarcasm and trolling.

 

So, there we go. I hope this list helps you to not achieve something in your life quite soon. Just reading this post has probably been a good start!

Safety first

Think about all the documents, photos and other computer vitals you would lose if your hard drive died now. Wouldn’t that be a massive, massive pain in the bum?

Backup using Syncrify

In honour of World Backup Day, I am running a backup on my desktop – it’s been far too long – using my purpose built home file server and a sexy little program called “Syncrify“.

At some point, I hope to actually finish the tutorial I’ve written on setting up a home backup server. For now though, read Part One which details building the machine itself.

Until then, I thoroughly recommend you backup your own machine. Its easy to do, there’s many low tech options:

  • Copy your documents and images onto a portable hard drive.
  • Burn them onto a few DVDs.
  • Or, if they are less than 2Gig total, sign up to Dropbox, and put them there, accessible on all your computers.

Remember guys, it takes a few minutes each week/month/year (if you are as useless as me), but can save a world of heartache!

Enjoying the snow

This week, as I’m sure you’ve heard, there has been rather a lot of snow in the UK. On Wednesday, I had a long walk to the station, and took my camera out for a trip. See the results below.

Day Eight – Continuing Frenzied Activity

The following post is from a series of emails I wrote to my girlfriend at the time, whilst on a trip to Africa. She is now my wife, so I did something right.

So I’m trying to do everything at once, and it’s stressing me out! So today, I am going to go camp up a mountain. Unfortunately we haven’t left yet (Mohau is late, surprise surprise, the South African isn’t on time), and it gets dark soon.

Oh well. Sorry we couldn’t talk earlier, and sorry that I was so distracted. I love you anyway, I just need to do loads of stuff here, and talking to people gets in the way. I’m not as bad as when I’m in my house, but it’s also not far off.

Anyway, with that I’m going to love you and leave you. I am enjoying it here, it’s just that I have responsibilities too. Responsibilities suck.

“The Master did not give explicit direction regarding virgins, but as one much experienced in the mercy of the Master and loyal to him all the way, you can trust my counsel. Because of the current pressures on us from all sides, I think it would probably be best to stay just as you are. Are you married? Stay married. Are you unmarried? Don’t get married. But there’s certainly no sin in getting married, whether you’re a virgin or not. All I am saying is that when you marry, you take on additional stress in an already stressful time, and I want to spare you if possible.”

1 Corinthians 7:25

I searched ‘stress’ in The Message, and this came up. Rather apt, eh?

Blessings and love,
Christopholus