Recumbent Review: The Plucky Apple iPad 2nd Generation

When I first booted up my new iPad I saw this logo and thought, “Hey! My apple has a crack in it!” Whatever happened to the old rainbow apple?

About the Recumbent Reviews

Welcome to the fifth Recumbent Review!

This series of articles normally examines photographic equipment and accessories from an ordinary user’s point of view but this time we’re doing something a little different… we here at the HoaiPhai Research Laboratories are going to take a look at one of Apple’s iconic tablet computers, the iPad 2nd Generation, from a real-life PC guy’s perspective. Hopefully you’ll enjoy yourself while learning a little something that might help you make an informed purchase (or make you feel all warm and tingly inside about a purchase you’ve already made).

By the way, I composed as much as I possibly could of this post using my iPad!

Intro

I got my iPad just a couple of weeks ago and have tried semi-successfully to resist temptation to read the user’s guide, which came as a link to a web page and not as a printed-on-paper book or even as a pre-installed e-book. The reason for me flying blind was to see just how “intuitive” the iPad really is for a person who is not very familiar with touch screen devices or current Apple products. In an attempt to be totally forthcoming, I am about to subject you to a general list of my computer experiences.

  • In the mid-70s, I tried to get into the computer class in high school. Due to a very limited number of students admitted due to a limited number of technologically limited computers (i.e. one) and my very limited interest in school (except for hanging around the End Exit, going to dances, and being the staff photographer for the yearbook and several of the student body’s garage bands), the school’s administration limited my admission to “not”.
  • In the early ’80s, I had a Timex-Sinclair computer (I think that’s what it was) with a whole 16 KB memory expansion module. I logged some serious computer time on the thing.
  • In the mid ’80s, I took a night class on how to use computers, the computer in question being an Apple IIc. No mouse, no hard drive, and storage was on giant floppy disks large enough to act as coasters for Dutch ovens or hubcaps for my Integra.
  • At around the same time, I began using computers running Windows DOS, a strictly command line operating system, for word processing.
  • At school in the late ’80s, I used PCs running DOS for work and played games on my neighbour’s Mac. As part of my college programme, I spent a couple of days doing CT scans on real people using computers so large they were in their own air conditioned room.
  • In the late ’90s I took a prepress/graphic design programme where we used Power Macintosh G3 Blue & Whites. I’d do my homework on a 486 DX PC clone running Windows 95, NT, or 98 — I cannot remember which (but I’ve used ’em all).
  • Since then I’ve worked in several jobs, both within the prepress/graphic design field and out, using both PC and Mac computers.
  • My current home computer is a 3.00 GHz Pentium 4 PC tower running Windows XP Professional (and the same operating system at work).
  • The only touch-screen devices I’ve ever owned are the GPS for my car and a cheap ($15, including shipping) but extremely nifty wristwatch I found on eBay.
Full Bias Disclosure

I don’t have anything major against either Macs or PCs, but that is not to say that I don’t have opinions and preferences. I tend to favour PCs over Macs for a few reasons, and some reasons are based more on the actual computers and their operation than others.

Some reasons for my liking PCs are…

  • You can run all kinds of operating systems on them, not just the ones from Microsoft.
  • I am under the impression that it’s much simpler to do hardware upgrades yourself on a PC than on a Mac. Over the years I have successfully installed memory, hard drives, CD/DVD drives, modems, etc. with no training or instructions. In contrast, every curtain rod I have personally installed in my home is either coming down right now or has long since gone to The Great Bath & Boudoir Boutique in the Sky.
  • I’m under the impression that there is a wider choice of hardware you can bolt onto a PC.
  • Operating system re-installs are nothing to sweat about if you choose all the defaults. If you like tinkering, you have the option of specifying different components you do or don’t want installed.
  • The number of software titles for Windows is staggering, with much of what you would ever want or need open source and available for free, especially if you choose certain operating systems.
  • I like being able to go into system files and settings to fiddle around.

Some things I don’t like about PCs are…

  • Microsoft is changing Windows and now it’s so bloated and memory hungry. I’m also under the impression that Digital Rights Management features in recent versions only will allow certain disk drives and monitors, for example, to be used on machines running these operating systems.
  • A lot of high-end software titles will only run on Windows (and Mac operating systems, of course) so many users are “stuck” with Microsoft.
  • Recent versions of Windows bear little resemblance to former versions, so much so that when my son asked me to find some image files he uploaded to his computer running Windows 7, I couldn’t find the actual files (in spite of being able to view them) and gave up after several minutes.
  • Because there is so much software available which is written by so many programmers, sometimes there are problems where one program might conflict with another.
  • Because Windows is so widely used, 99.9997899% of virus authors target the Windows operating system.

Bearing in mind I haven’t used a Mac in about a dozen years, some things I don’t like about Apple products are…

  • They come across to me as “black boxes”… a lot of what’s going on is behind the scenes and just happens according to factory presets.
  • On the Power Macs I’ve used, I found the hierarchical folder system, and the files contained therein, are represented in a way that’s a bit confusing. The Windows way of things is much more clear, in my mind. Maybe I just “think different”.
  • Why don’t they have Delete Buttons? The Mac Backspace Button works great, but PCs have both allowing you to attack errors from either side.
  • I don’t find that Macs are simpler to use than PCs and find these claims to be misleading and condescending. First of all, and most importantly, the way one works using a given program in Windows is virtually identical to how one uses the same program on a Mac and most of what we do on a computer is done within these certain applications. Even if a Mac is marginally simpler to learn to use than a Windows-running PC for someone with no experience at all on any computer, who cares? Within a couple of hours they’ll have all the basics no matter what operating system they’re using. Experienced PC users who deal with Macs for the first time are no less confused than Apple guys who migrate to the land of Microsoft. Besides, is ease-of-use the benchmark for quality? A Porsche 911 is supposed to be a lot harder to drive than a VW Beetle but guess which one I’d prefer to have in my driveway.
  • Intuitive? Not so much. This is another piece of Apple marketing-speak and is part of their ease-of-use mantra but deserves its own paragraph. All consumer computers these days, regardless of operating system or architecture, operate in pretty much the same way… you click on an icon and something opens up. Whether the “Recycle Bin” is factory-installed in one corner or another or how minimized-but-still-open programs and processes are represented is of little consequence. I’ll rag on “intuition” a bit more a little later.
  • The PC Guy vs The Mac Guy ads were so dumb, and I have felt that way since long before I started to resemble The PC Guy. Look, anthropomorphizing PCs vs Macs is dishonest from the very start because these ads demonize Windows under the guise of “PC”, and PCs can run many different operating systems and attributes a wide range of Windows shortcomings to all PCs and OSes. This is mudslinging marketing and immediately gets me wondering why Apple feels they have to trash their competition instead of simply promoting the merits of their own machines. Any politician who resorts to these kinds of tactics has to make up a lot of ground to get my vote. Have you ever seen Canon mean-mouthing Nikon’s cameras just to make a sale? Nope, they both just keep coming out with better and better cameras and lenses and let their customers decide which they want to buy.
  • While both the PC and Mac camps have their loyal followers, only the Mac team seems to have a class of ultra fanboys who take their praise of all things Apple to a level approaching religious cult fanaticism, which I find about as annoying as being accosted by a band of Hari Krishnas on the day their incense sales quota comes under review. I was first exposed to Mac fanboyism in graphics school in the form of one of my instructors, Mr. F. One day (true story!) I put a little sign on my Power Macintosh G3 that read “When I grow up, I want to be a PC” — I was a bit naïve to this phenomenon so I didn’t know what I was dealing with. Well, suffice it to say Mr. F didn’t take it too well and pointed to a poster on the wall advertising a major American aerospace college that featured a photo of one of the Space Shuttles blasting off. He informed me, “You just couldn’t make a poster like that on a PC!”, which was bullshit because all the standard graphic design software titles were available in Windows versions, even way back then, and I had personally made a huge poster at way higher resolution than that Shuttle poster at home on my “anemic” PC. So, what with Mr. F. being my teacher and due a certain bit of factual latitude out of respect, I conceded, “Well, maybe you’re right. Maybe you couldn’t design that poster on a PC but I have a funny feeling that the Space Shuttle on the poster was sent into orbit with the help of PCs, not Macs.” Needless to say, that day I didn’t get much in the way of one-on-one instruction, but, to Mr. F’s credit, he didn’t hold it against me and I managed to pass his course. Seriously, camping out to get into a store to buy a newly-released version of a piece of hardware you have the previous version of is a bit over the top. If you’re so anxious to get your hands on its successor, is the gadget you presently own is so wonderful that you cannot wait a few days or weeks to replace it?

If Mr. F is reading this, I’m sure he has noticed that I’m not including a “What I Like about Macs” bullet list in this section. This is not to say that there’s nothing I like about Macs, but I’ll be addressing this a little further on.

This was what my new iPad looked like before I added even more apps and moved things around.

But What about The iPad?

Enough with the history lessons already and on to talking about the iPad!

I got this iPad as a gift, and I was seriously surprised and thankful to the one who gave it to me. I don’t even know anyone with an iPad so I was really chomping at the bit to check it out.

The very first thing I thought of was “Let’s see just how intuitive and easy to use this thing is.” After a minute or two, I found the unmarked power button, pushed it, and a whole bunch of icons were sitting there on the screen just waiting to be explored. Without a mouse, and me with all kinds of experience with touch-screen devices like my car’s GPS and my cheap Chinese watch, I intuitively knew that I was supposed to poke the icon with a finger to get the program to open.

It worked! I wanted to check out the weather on the Internet so I jabbed the Safari icon. I got a bit of a shock when it began to open because there was a thingy that showed that my iPad was trying to connect to a cellular network, which I hadn’t signed up for, so I quickly got out of there and began exploring Settings in search for a way to turn the cellular access off lest I be charged real money. I don’t know if you are a fan of the Seinfeld TV series but the character George Costanza has an aversion to paying for parking and I’m the same way with cellular fees, so I was really quick to get the iPad configured to meld with my Wi-Fi. I was a little surprised that my iPad hadn’t prompted me for my preference, what with my home Wi-Fi signal strength powerful enough to cook an egg. [I have since learned that the first time you boot up an iPad, there is supposed to be a welcome screen that leads you through the process of setting the device up, but mine didn’t do that. I imagine the person who sent it to me fiddled with the iPad, setting it up for me.]

One thing I found was that while basic navigation through the various apps was very straightforward. There was a lot going on that I was unaware of so I cheated and looked up a few things in the on-line user guide. To date I have not read the guide cover-to-cover (digitally speaking), like I’ve done with every gadget I’ve ever owned including my Nikon D300 that came with a 300 page book, and I’ve gotten along quite well. I have had to look several things up and discovered that my iPad was not what I would call intuitive to use apart from the basics.

My Concise Oxford 7th Edition defines intuitive as,

of, possessing, perceived by, intuition

and defines intuition as,

immediate apprehension by the mind without reasoning; immediate apprehension by a sense; immediate insight“.

Apple’s definition seems to me to be slightly different and might be written down somewhere in Cupertino, California as something like,

memorable and kind of fun once someone has shown you how to do it or you looked it up in the on-line manual.”

One of the things that surprised me was the Home button doesn’t really close apps, it only minimizes them. I found this out by accident when I double-clicked it and every icon that was on the desktop were all lined up at the bottom of the screen. When I looked up what was going on, I found out that all these apps — every single app on the iPad I had ever opened — were running in the background but performance didn’t seem to be suffering. Major point for iPad!

This gesture probably means something to my iPad but I have yet to look it up in the manual.

Another thing about iOS that I found a lot of fun, and intuitive once I knew about it, was that dragging several fingers across the screen in various directions allows you to navigate not only within documents, but you can switch between app windows (sorry about the “W word”, Mac guys) that are running in the background and get “notifications”. It’s a little hit-and-miss, but then again I’m just a PC guy getting used to things.

Apps not what you can do for your iPad, apps what your apps can do for you!

The iPad comes with a whole whack of useful and fun apps. Right out of the box you can send e-mail, make notes and lists, listen to music, surf the internet, take pictures and videos, and schedule appointments with cool-sounding custom alarm tones. The boys down at Apple have made it super easy to get onto iTunes and The Apps Store so you can load up your iPad with all kinds of music, videos, books, and apps. Let’s take a peek at a couple of apps, both factory-installed and stuff I hunted down and actually paid for…

iTunes & The Apps Store: These two apps work flawlessly to allow the acquisition of music, videos, books, apps, and all kinds of other stuff. Ease of use is coupled with security to provide a wonderful experience. The first things I bought was a Jonathan Winters comedy album that first came out on vinyl fifty years ago and the Night Sky app (see below). Just one thing… it would be great if these apps had a bookmark function so you could return to an album or whatever at some point in the future. I can bookmark stuff on my PC-installed iTunes but not on my iPad, something I hope will be addressed and remedied by Apple’s iStaff. Price: Pre-installed

Calendar: Usually here’s nothing inherently exciting about a calendar, unless it features pin-up pictures (which the iPad calendar does not), but this one makes being busy fun. I was really impressed by the spinning tumbler method of entering dates and times and the selection of alarm sounds (found in the Settings utility). There are four calendars set up at the factory for you, Home, Work, Calendar, and Birthdays, and you can set up even more if you need them. Personally, I don’t get the need for the Calendar section of the Calendar app because Work and Home pretty much covers it. If they don’t, you’re probably too focused and driven to be wasting your time reading my lowly blog. Anyways, the odd thing about the Birthdays part is that you cannot enter people’s birthdays directly — birthdays find their way into Calendar when you enter a person’s birth date into a dedicated field in Contacts, the iPad address book. It would be nice to be able to enter dates into Birthdays regardless of whether you have the person in your contact list. Price: Pre-installed

Maps: I haven’t tried this anywhere I didn’t have access to Wi-Fi (and I’m not about to pay cellular fees for my iPad). This seems to work via the iPad’s built-in GPS and pre-loaded maps but I’m not certain what would happen if you were not connected to the internet in a location you’ve never called up a map for. Still, it works like Google Maps does on my PC but with a nifty pulsating pushpin to indicate my current location. Price: Pre-installed

Camera: Actually, there are two of them… one pointing at you as you look at the screen and the other pointing in the opposite direction. On my 2nd Generation model, the cameras are not serious photographic equipment in that they are very low resolution (720 x 960 px, that’s 0.7 megapixel for the backside camera, and 480 x 640 px or 0.3 megapixel for the “self-portrait camera”) and the image quality is very noisy, but that’s what you’d expect from a camera with a tiny lens and sensor. I’m a bit disappointed that the camera’s resolution is less than that of the screen, 768 x 1024 px (0.8 megapixels). But that’s not to say that you won’t find the iPad’s camera(s) useful or fun. I can imagine situations where I’m using my iPad and a photo-op comes up suddenly and I don’t have time to get my digital SLR. I really like seeing what I’m photographing on the large screen… it’s sort of like seeing your photo in a picture frame as you’re taking it or looking at the focusing glass of a view camera, except the image is not upside down and flipped left-to-right (I would buy a view camera app where you could set tilt, swing, and shift movements, in case any app developers out there are looking for a project). There are some well thought-out features, like you can select what part of the scene you want the camera to focus and base the exposure settings on with a touch to the display plus it will record video. Price: Pre-installed

Using the camera that is on the same side as the display and standing in front of a mirror, you can create an “endless tunnel of mirrors image” and show the world that you really couldn’t care less about putting wet towels neatly on the shower curtain bar.

Photo Booth: This is a very cool app! It uses the iPad’s cameras and adds special effects, i.e. Thermal Camera, Mirror, X-Ray, Kaleidoscope, Light Tunnel, Squeeze, Twirl, and Stretch, to photos taken with this app. My $2000 Nikon didn’t come with fun stuff like that! Price: Pre-installed

Normally I don’t like people taking my picture and I don’t think I’ve ever taken my own photo just for fun… until now. The titles of these self portraits are: (clockwise starting in upper left corner) The Skeptic, The Nuclear War Survivor, The Smart Aleck, The Blockhead, Monsters Inc., and The Alien.

WordPress: Want to do a little blogging on your iPad? This could be the app for you. It brings your blog(s) to your iPad in a very organized way. The only problems I have with it is that you have to edit posts in “HTML View” so you see the codes and not the effect. Even when you choose to review your work, what you see does not necessarily match what will actually be published. So for working on my blog I prefer using Safari (on my PC I prefer Google Chrome). Price: Free

DOFViewer: This is a great tool for photographers who want to get the most control they possibly can get out of depth of field. You set up what camera you have and all kinds of nit-picky parameters and after you look up the focal length of your lens, aperture, and distance to subject, DOFViewer will tell you what will be in focus. I have some lenses capable of seriously shallow depth-of-field and I really needed this app. Price: $1.99

The Night Sky: This one is incredible. What you do with this is hold your iPad out in front of you toward the sky and Night Sky will show you the stars and constellations all labelled. Ever look up and see something moving and wonder if there’s an alien invasion happening that nobody told you about? This app will help you sleep better because it will also show you the real time location of a whole bunch of satellites and space junk — including The International Space Station, The Orbiting Astronomical Observatory (Copernicus), and The Hubble Space Telescope — allowing you to rule out that the pilots of that light you see moving across the sky are just looking for a parking spot in anticipation of giving you a deep and generous probing. Price: 99¢

Night Sky is a dream come true for a guy like me who has always marvelled at the night sky but is too dumb or lazy to actually learn about the stars and stuff.

Moon Globe: Another astronomy app, this one shows the Moon’s phase as seen on a specific date from a given location. It can also display the Moon’s apparent size, so you can compare a “Super Moon” to what a regular Moon by spinning the date selector. It will automatically go to your present location and today’s date on start-up. You can choose to have this app display labels for various geographic features and it will even show you the locations of a bunch of space vehicles abandoned there (at least the ones the government is willing to let us know about). Price: Free

An actual screen capture of the Moon Globe app. The image is gorgeous and the app shades it to show what phase the Moon is in at any given point in time.

Numatron 2: This is nothing more than a clock that mimics a nixie tube display but I love clocks and I’ve wanted to get my hands on a real nixie since the ’60s, but they’re quite expensive. While not quite as nice as having a real nixie clock, this app is much cheaper so you’ll have something to look at while saving up for the real thing. Price: 99¢

The Numatron is just one fun way to see what time it is on your iPad.

Clock Pro HD: As pretty as Numatron 2 is, Clock Pro HD is functional. As you can see from the screen capture below, you get a dozen different time-oriented utilities for what works out as 25¢ each and many of them are customizable. I find the World Clock especially useful… you can set up a bunch of clocks in time zones you select so you always know whether you’ll be waking your friends and family when you call them. Another great feature is the Project Clock with which you can set up different tasks and keep track of how long you take to realize them even if you work on them in instalments over a period of time. There are a bunch of different alarms you can set.  Price: $2.99

Apparently the only thing Clock Pro HD cannot do is reduce the time it will take you to get through this rather lengthy post.

Battle By Ships 20×20: This is essentially a solitaire version of the old Battleships board game where you play against your iPad’s silicone chips. The sounds and interface are great fun and since your opponent is the iPad, you get no kvetching if you take a good long time to plan your shots. Other Battleships-inspired apps are available that support two human player games. Price: $1.99

Mahjong!!: The age-old computer game (yes, you read that right) brought to the iPad, this one comes with six different layouts and, for a couple of bucks, the same developer has a version with 200 board layouts. Price: Free

Minesweeper Q: When I feel a little homesick for my PC and have a few moments on my hands, I can always open up Minesweeper. This version is a bit of a compromise if you are looking to better your best times because you have to hold the little squares for a certain amount of time to flag it. Still, great fun. Price: Free

Plasma Globe: I have wanted a real plug-in plasma globe for a long, long time but never got one. This app is not only a very cool screensaver type of thing that just sits there throwing sparks but is also a game where you defend the discharge terminal against attacking glowing blobs. You can even choose between three colour schemes.  Price: Free

Plasma Globe not only great to look at in non-game mode but if you touch the globe your finger conducts the sparks and makes realistic electrical zapping noises just like the real thing. It’s so realistic Mrs. HoaiPhai is worried that this app will damage the iPad she has grown to love and depend on.

Angry Birds HD Free: I had heard about this game for months but never even saw it being played until yesterday when I downloaded it. Let me sum it up in two words… “productivity killer” or perhaps “digital crack”. I blew almost an entire day off playing this game and was so taken with it I shelled out $2.99 in real money for the non-free extended version, but I am trying desperately to not play it or I’ll get nothing done. Price: Free (or $2.99 for the full make-your-wife-angrier-than-the-birds-because-you-did-nothing-around-the-house-all-day edition)

Stuff I Don’t Like about The iPad
  • High purchase price.
  • Awkward to enter and edit text, especially with the spell-check feature that sometimes suggests an unintended correctly-spelled word which automatically replaces the correctly spelled word you wanted unless you stop what you’re doing and dismiss the suggestion. It would also also be nice to have arrow cursor buttons, or something like them, to move the cursor around and a delete button.
  • Limited Number of Glyphs: I learned all about typography on a Mac and am surprised that the characters and fonts available on the iPad are so limited. For example, there are no em-dashes (one of these “—”, as opposed to a hyphen which is this “-“) on my iPad. I know space is limited on the screen but maybe they could have put some more of the most used glyphs, like apostrophes, hyphens, and quotation marks, on the main keyboard.
  • Apple Mystery Box Syndrome: Cannot directly access files in the iPad either on the iPad or on another computer via a USB connection.
  • I’m not always certain whether a given app is getting input over the internet or if it is running completely autonomously with all data stored on the iPad itself. This has not been a huge problem so far because I have always used my iPad within areas where I have access to Wi-Fi.
  • Deleting files is a bit too easy. I once deleted something thinking I was just deactivating it.
  • There’s no “undo” feature, like Ctrl+Z, that I know of.
  • It’s a bit too easy to rack up a huge bill on iTunes. It would be nice if there were an option that would automatically display your total purchases within a user-set period before you finalize a purchase.
  • It would be nice if you could set up multiple user accounts so different family members could have their own parental controls, apps, media libraries, bookmarks, etc. when they log on.
  • “Find My iPad” only works if the iPad in question connects to the internet, which doesn’t happen if you’ve set up a passcode lock and if the person who “finds” your iPad doesn’t know or crack your code.
  • I’ve had a couple of apps crash. This doesn’t really bother me but I was surprised that it happened after hearing Apple ads over the years talking about how their wares don’t do things like that.
  • Every time I want to manage files using iTunes on my PC I have to re-install the Apple Mobile Device USB Driver. Maybe it’s my computer’s fault but there was nothing in the iPad Support website that deals with a permanent resolution. To Apple’s credit, their site is where I found out what the problem was and how to correct it each time I want iTunes to recognize my iPad.
  • Syncing with iTunes is a bit scary. On other devices I’ve had you could select automatic syncing that sends all fines to one device or another or populate both devices with all files. While with iTunes you can set up auto syncing, it’s a little confusing and not as full-featured.
  • The Sleep/Awake, Side Switch, and Volume Buttons Are plastic (nylon?). While they work well, stainless steel would be a nice touch, especially on an item at this price point.
Stuff I Love about The iPad
  • Boots quickly!
  • The 132 pixels-per-inch display is absolutely beautiful and not at all fatiguing to stare at for hours on end. The 3rd generation iPads have screens with twice the resolution and must be stunning — 264 ppi is right in the printed photo neighbourhood… I print at 320 or 360 ppi, depending on which of my printers I’m using.
  • Retina Display, a feature thatmagnifies a portion of the screen to allow you to place the cursor accurately, does a good job making up for the difficultis in placing a tiny cursor between tint characters using a relatively large finger as a pointer.
  • Apple claims about 10 hours of use on a full recharge. I haven’t tested that figure but you’ll get plenty of use out of your tablet between charges.
  • Amazing selection of apps and music at The Apps Store and iTunes.
  • Extremely useful for a wide range of applications.
  • Great trade-off between portability and ergonomics.
  • Integrates seamlessly with other devices in the Apple Ecosystem (iPods, iPhones, Macs, iTunes, App Store, etc.).
  • Fabulous build quality and user interface.
The Verdict

First of all, suffice it to say I love my iPad. My wife and I have adopted it as part of the family and have put it to work with various chores. Some of the things we use our iPad for almost daily are…

  • To check the status of the various lift bridges, ensuring us uninterrupted commutes to work. I wish someone would come up with an app for this but checking the Seaway’s website is not at all difficult using Safari.
  • To make lists of photos I want to print on my PC. My printed photos are not kept in my Computer Cloister so what I can do is look through the prints using my iPad to take notes and then bring the iPad, or send an e-mail, to the big computer where all the actual image files are stored.
  • To verify that an actor my wife spots in a movie is really the same person who appeared in another film or TV show. She has an almost 100% hit rate!
  • To check the weather.
  • To get recipes and dinner ideas.
  • To plan my wife’s assaults on local commercial establishments.
  • To jot down gift ideas, mark down appointments, look up songs we hear in movie soundtracks, do a little light blogging, consolidate notes written on scraps of paper and saved in my pocket, do metric conversions, compose to-do lists and set up reminders for same, etc.
  • To allow me to surf the internet or do other light computer work while sitting beside my wife while watching TV, avoiding making my wife feel ignored and neglected like when I go upstairs into my Computer Cloister.

But the iPad is not a full-fledged computer that you can do everything on, like store and edit images uploaded from your digital camera or do serious word-processing. Even if there is an app available for a certain task, it may be more difficult and time consuming to do it on an iPad so this tablet is no replacement for a “real” computer, in my mind. It’s also quite pricey so before you run out and get one you have to take a few things into consideration, unless you have Kardashian bucks and are not worried about money.

  • A tablet might not meet your needs even as a complement to a full-scale computer. There are a lot of great compact netbooks out there at a fraction of the price of an iPad that offer lots of quick-to-boot-up flash memory and a keyboard for a fraction of the price.
  • If you really have your heart set on a tablet but are not a married to the idea of buying Apple, look into other brands. They might be able to do what you want and save you hundreds of dollars.
  • If extreme portability and ultra compact size are not high on your list of requirements, consider a laptop. Really good ones can be had for about the same price as an iPad.

So to really sum things up, I am extremely happy with my iPad and now that I have gotten to know it, it’s hard to imagine life before I got it when all we had was a single desktop computer. The iPad inspires a feeling of confidence that’s hard to put my finger on. Even if the iPad cannot do everything a PC (and by “PC” I mean any personal computer, including Macs) can do, I use the iPad to get onto the internet quickly or make notes and then I’ll e-mail myself so when I’m ready to sit down at the PC for some heavy work, I have a lot of of the preliminary work done.

The iPad is what it is, and does what it does it magnificently. Provided you are aware of its limitations, I highly recommend you picking up an iPad!

If you liked this Recumbent Review, please check out the others in the series.

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About HoaiPhai

I'm up late digging up the dirt. View all posts by HoaiPhai

5 responses to “Recumbent Review: The Plucky Apple iPad 2nd Generation

  • Ape No. 1

    You are right in terms of it not being a replacement for a PC. My twenty cents worth for you HoaiPhai is in terms of blogging on your iPad I have found only one app that is functional enough to do a reasonable job, and believe me I have tried a whole stack of them, but even it needs me to sometimes hand craft HTML to get the page looking just right. It does though provide a view of your post before it is uploaded. Look for Blogsy in the AppStore.

    • HoaiPhai

      Thanks for the tip… I’ll be checking it out next time I iLog in. I’m under the impression that apes love Apples so I’m grateful for your advice and hope you didn’t take offence to my Mac Guy stereotyping.

      • Ape No. 1

        I am more a PC guy than a MAC guy but it is hard to not end up owning one of the many iThingo devices at some point. To be honest I am more a retro arcade gamer guy than either PC or MAC guy. Ape loves old school pixelated fun from the 70s and 80s.

      • HoaiPhai

        Oops, sorry! I seem to remember something about iPhones you might (or might not) have written. Wanna come over and play with my Atari? I have an original model and a couple of games as well as a Nintendo first edition!

  • Yanira

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