Thursday, October 28, 2010

The 3G experience

Back in the days of old when.dinosaurs wandered in our back yards and mobile connectivity meant tethering off your cell phone via a sync cord, it was a hassle in getting everything set up.

The 3G sim card in the iPad makes working on the Internet seamless as it is as simple as dragging out your iPad whenever you need to work and hitting the sleep button when it is time to move on. You can continue your work anywhere and anytime.

Right now I am touch typing on the iPad's on screen keyboard albeit slower then my normal keyboard but certainly quite usable.

However with 3G turned on I am automatically connected to the internet when I turn on my iPad with no cords attached; it is all self contained without having to switch on a separate device or creating a connection. It is simply a joy to use.

Right now I have 7 days remaining on my 3G monthly plan and still have 4Gb of data usage left. I have spent 2 hours at McDonald watching a movie streamed by air video from my home server, downloaded dozens of apps and surfed at least a dozen websites using a grand total of 230Mb of data. 5Gb is a lot of data if you are just generally surfing the Internet.

Having 3G on my iPad is certainly a luxury but having it may soon change my working habits as I sit at McDonald or star bucks more often.

Why Apple is doing it right!

Recently I upgraded my aging netbook with a SSD flash drive, added more memory and upgraded the OS to Windows 7. I am waiting from ebay the wifi N + bluetooth mini pci-e card so my netbook will become a whole new machine with an upgrade expenditure of less then $175.

However despite the faster flash hd drive, snappier response of windows 7, it pales in comparison to my IPad in terms of usability.

1. Internet browsing, Emailing.

The IPad does this with grace despite the missing flash. I can get my google news, BBC news, ABC news, the Vancouver Sun, check facebook, retrieve my email with a sidebar visualization similar to text messaging on my phone. In addition, free apps from the Apple Apps store personalizes certain webpages so they become an integrate part of your IPad like wiki becomes a encyclopedia of sorts in a ebook format. Ebay is an app that interfaces to ebay with your personalized account info right at your finger tips.

Internet browsing becomes a cloud type application where front ends are built on the IPad giving you the feeling that application is completely on your IPad with the back-end being the internet. It is almost like EBay on your IPad rather then browsing ebay on the net.

Lastly, the internet browser is great for old eyes like mine. When I need to bring up a section of text for reading, I simply spread my fingers over the area that I want to zoom into, and the text becomes several size larger. Zooming out is simply pinching the screen until you can see the overall page.

No matter how every company wants to emulate the Apple UI, they just don't have the smoothness of Apple. Want to move the web page around to see the hidden section, just poke your finger in the middle of the web page and drag the page around.

My htc touch with opera offers the same ability but when I poke the screen and attempt to drag the page around, it thinks I've selected a hyperlink and follows through to what-ever I had accidentally poked.

My contact scroll on my HTC touch is a good example of this almost but not quite Apple UI emulation. It is annoying as hell as I attempt to scroll down my contact list, with that famous apple single finger flick and the contacts scrolls by in an animated roledex fashion, but instead, my phone thinks that my finger poke is a selection of what-ever my finger happen to poke. So as long as I'm careful I get the apple flick scroll, but most of the time I get a random contact selection and I have to start all over from the top of my contact list.

Apple has it right. In the last two weeks playing with my IPad, a flick scroll is a flick scroll, moving web pages moves the web pages around and a firm finger poke on a selection takes me into the next web page. It is intuitive and precise. None of this half and half stylus and finger interpretation of most mobile phone pc.

2. The App store.

No matter how popular Google Android will become, the app store is Apple's biggest asset to the mobile world. At my finger tips and a joy for impulse buyers are thousands of applications ready for install on the IPad. A single click (Install) is all it takes to buy an App and since each app is priced at around 99 cents to a few dollars, you are virtually being drained a buck at a time.

This is the same for the music world of iTunes and soon to follow is the iBook store. A single click on a bored day at the office will buy you the latest spy thriller from the virtual book store without getting out of your chair.

For those who are frugal, there are thousands of free to try apps and you can even keep your credit card info out of the registration, for free apps. When bored, simply search the keyword "free" on the app store and all the free applications will be displayed. It is a gourmet sampling of some of the most interesting apps that will keep you occupied for hours.

In comparison, my HTC touch requires searching and downloading from my PC, install is through active sync that leaves a copy on my PC as well as an install copy on my phone.

Although these days, I simply copy all my needed apps to my micro SD card and I install my apps from the SD; however I cannot sample new apps easily.

Despite all the discontent of how Apple is a closed system, the Apple store does filter the malevolent apps from the good ones.

3. Battery life.

Instant on. A month of standby, 10 hours of continuous wifi web browsing, 9 hours if you are using 3g. 6 days of music playback, 10 hours of movies.

My netbook pales in comparison. Netbook has 2 or 3 days of standby or perhaps a week in hibernation but once it hibernates, it takes at least 15 seconds to recover. Max usage with Wifi on is about 1.5 hours and sometimes a max of 2 hours. Play a game or watch a movie for a max of 2 hours. Add a six cell battery to up the time and you have just added a couple of lbs to your netbook making it bulky.

4. The Apple experience.
Did you notice that despite the large number of Apple haters out there, they are all secretly waiting for Android or some other OS to emulate what Apple already has?
- multitouch which gives you the ability to play a chord on a virtual piano on the iPad, pinch to zoom out, spread your fingers to zoom in, finger flick to scroll.
- fast screen update with 3d graphics despite the low power cpu that all PC users snickers at
- accelerometer that makes all games that uses it interesting.
- add a pogo stylus and you can write on the ipad like a notepad.
- even the 3g from rogers can be bought and switched on/off/cancelled directly on the IPad without a phone call to Rogers. Add 3g when needed, cancel when not.

Within the next year or so, more IPad like devices will be out in the market running android and some even Windows 7 as their OS. However since most of the apps are designed for mouse or keyboard operation, the experience will be mixed just like my HTC touch which some apps requires the use of the stylus with small click buttons while some newer apps allows me to poke at the buttons with my fingers.

Multi touch will work on some apps and will not on others as shown on one youtube flick on an android tablet as the speaker was trying to zoom in on one app without success.

One good thing about the Android devices is that almost everything from Google is free. If in a year or so, if Android or Window 7 pads offers a better pad experience, I'll be willing to take on a mistress :) but until then, Apple has dazzled me in its reality distortion field bubble.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My First Date with the IPad

As a PC enthusiast I never really had the urgency of buying into the Apple reality distortion products such as the Mac, the Iphone, Ipod touch and now finally the swelt looking IPad. Although I would occasionally feel the need to caress an Iphone, I firmly abstained from playing with the Apple products when I am near phone retail outlets and electronic stores for fear that I would be infused with the Apple product obsession.

However my need as a photographer was a method of carrying my portfolio easily to weddings or to any functions that will allow me show off my work. Although the IPod touch was a great product, the small size was a deterrent to my photos and plus the fact that I always thought of the IPod touch as a music player more then a work tool.

It was the IPad's advertisement of its ability to display photos with relative ease and speed that baited me for the first look and subsequently my first touch at the computer store. The thinness was so alluring that I could feel my "buy me now" hormones kicking in. I did not give in to buy the product right away on my first date.

It wasn't until my 3rd date at the computer store and countless hours of researching on the internet that I finally popped the question "will you be my ipad?"

With credit card in hand, I was ready to move a Mac product into my life not knowing how my PC products would feel about a foreign OS amongst our midst of Microsoft products.

The unboxing of the IPad was unmistakable electrifying as it sat naked in the Apple box. Shimmering and thin, I had never had anything that was as sexy as this product. I quickly covered up her assets in the IPad case that was also made by Apple. Even the case hugged the Ipad's curves and almost made it look more thinner by the protruding tapered edges.

With trepidation, I searched and downloaded Apple's Itune product and installed this foreign program on my PC. Connected the IPad to the usb port and I spent the next half hour trying to create an Apple app store account. The problem being that my password could not be Apple666 since repeating numerics were not allowed.

I knew that the PC didn't like my Apple IPad immediately as the IPad refuses to charge with my PC USB ports. Thankfully syncing was relatively painless as I loaded up my IPad with photos and music.

I took my IPad to its first wedding, not knowing quite how to introduce "her" to the wedding guest. Do I say "Hey do you want to see my IPad?" or do I just casually and quietly put her on the table waiting for someone to ask for an introduction.

Thankfully, the ice was broken by a simple question "Do you do any other types of photography?"

"Why Yes I do" as I brought out my IPad...