Tag Archives: ipad

The iPad mini is Not a Nexus 7

And it doesn’t need to be, either.

I really wish I wasn’t constantly asked to compare the two (which I will do), since each seems to be serving a different type of user. Is one better than the other? Yes.

But not outright.

One is a device that works “well enough” for $200, and the other is a device that works “well enough” at a different level for $329.

Comparing hardware-to-hardware or software-to-software specifications is disingenuous, at best.

One thing to keep in mind with either tablet: we’re no longer living in a world where individual devices are one-offs. A single product is designed to interoperate with others, coupled with a series of supported services.

Which, then, works better within the construct of the other choices you’ve made?

Favorite iPad Apps?

I wanted an iPad before I knew I wanted an iPad. It was probably the first product from Apple that I purchased without hesitation – not because I needed one, but because the iPad was so radically different from anything else in the industry that I was drawn to it (magnetically, perhaps).

Years later, I’m sitting on top of hundreds of installed iPad applications. I get many of them for free not because I’m reviewing them, but because I watch for iPad software discounts to float across my social media radar. I tend to share and reshare the good ones, too.

The community constantly asks me: what are my favorite iPad apps? I don’t even know if I have a favorite iPad app (singular)! There are just so many of ’em out there, and each one of those applications does a great job independent of any other iPad app. That’s what makes the iPad work, ya know? It’s not some kind of complex computing tool that allows you to see dozens of open programs at any given time. No, instead, the iPad excels at providing a near-perfect platform for today’s various needs.

Each iPad app has the potential of being my favorite app – depending on what it is that I’m wanting to do. In many cases, I can likely find an app that will do what I’d like to have done. Doesn’t that make it a favorite for the task at hand? I believe so.

Mind you, I don’t use every single iPad app every single day. I don’t even use a single app regularly (beyond the web browser and email clients)! I know: you still want to know what I’m using on my own iPad this year. It’s for that reason we decided to do a live walkthrough via YouTube earlier this week (in conjunction with an iPad 2 giveaway, courtesy of a sponsor):

By the time the third-generation iPad rolls off the assembly lines and into my hands, I’m sure I’ll have hundreds more apps to show you. Maybe we’ll do this again next year? If you have the patience to sit through this hour-long video iPad tour and you noticed I have a few missing apps, please make your Favorite recommendations in the comments thread.

Motorola Xoom vs iPad: Which one Lost?

How do you know your product has failed?

When it’s sitting at the top of Woot – after Not Selling anywhere else. [EDIT: for the sake of Varun’s sanity, a very spirited commenter in the thread below, I amended this paragraph to help him better understand.]

I don’t know about you, but I hate buying something (new or used) only to know that it’s not going to be around (or supported) for much longer. Not to say that the Motorola Xoom tablet is a failure, but… normally, you wouldn’t find successes sitting in the digital equivalent of a bargain bin.

If you would still love to get your hands on this tablet computer, you’re better off looking for people who are more-than-willing to sell their remorse to you. I’m guessing you can get a Xoom for even less than what this web site is selling it for.

I might also mention that I’ve never touched a Motorola Xoom – but why would I? Why would you? Five years ago, the Xoom may have made for one interesting portable device. Five years ago.

And, for clarification’s sake: I have absolutely nothing against the Motorola Xoom for what it is! Unfortunately, it fell short of expectations in just about every way – and when you’re trying to compete with the iPad, you’d better have one amazing story to tell at a no-brainer price point.

Some people hate Apple so much that they’re trying to prove a point by buying something else. Stupid, but I guess it’s admirable. If you’re really itching to spend money on anything that isn’t an iPad at this point, you’re better off looking at HP’s TouchPad – if only because you know a single company is controlling the experience (hardware AND software).

I think it’s fair to say that the Xoom lost – but it didn’t go down without a fight!

Dear Fanboys: Go Away

Do you have any idea how much I loathe the fanboy mentality? I honestly don’t care if you’re an Apple lover, a Microsoft admirer or an Android proponent – you’re all equally insane! Being a fanboy does not mean you enjoy or believe in one product more than another these days. It means that you are so insanely narrow-sighted that you cannot possibly understand that a different brand may just work better for another person – or even yourself.

Hat tip to Chu Chu for this fantastic fanboy depiction!

I had an eye on Twitter a few moments ago, and noticed that a friend was sad to realize that her three-year-old HP TouchSmart is slowly starting to fade. This has been her primary machine since August of 2008, y’all. She works from home and spends about ten hours per day – seven days each week – using the heck out of this beast. I’d say it has held up pretty well, wouldn’t you? Through blogging, Tweeting, video editing and even gaming, this setup has never let her down. Not once in nearly three years has she complained about this piece of equipment being bad, wrong, cheap or poorly made.

Wouldn’t you know it – an Apple fanboy was quick to jump down her throat in a Tweet response. His response? “That’s what you get for buying cheap crap. You should have gotten an iPad.” Fanboysaywhat? Are you serious here? Any computer that holds up for three years under intense usage – with NO upgrades or hardware changes at all – is obviously not “cheap crap” as you claim.

This is what I’m talking about. This person is so blinded by his lust for all things Apple that he has failed to realize his beloved product wouldn’t even work for what she needs. (Let’s also not forget that the iPad didn’t even exist when this particular computer became hers in August, 2008!) Would you honestly attempt to use an iPad as your main computer? If you can then kudos to you. As much as I adore my iPad 2, there is no way in hell I am going to get rid of my desktop. I’m willing to bet most of you wouldn’t, either.

Here’s a tip, fanboys: lighten up. Learn to embrace the fact that other people have different needs, wants and likes than you do. Stop harassing them and shoving your favorites down their throat each time there’s a problem with their favorite product. Guess what? Yours isn’t perfect, either.

iOS 4.3.1 Jailbreak Available

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Resident jailbreak expert Reza is ready to help you upgrade your current jailbreak for 4.3.1. The untethered jailbreak tools for iOS are ready and in the wild. If you’ve been waiting to upgrade your jailbroken iPad, iPod touch or iPhone, you can grab several of the new features by grabbing 4.3.1.

redsn0w is one of the tools you can use to perform your upgrade – or new jailbreak. redsn0w is a multi-platform jailbreak and unlock tool created by the iPhone Dev Team. redsn0w is simple to use, and supports all current iPhone and iPod touch devices which use at least firmware 3.0.

ultrasn0w is another tool that can be used to accomplish the same task. This unlock will work on iPhone4 baseband 01.59 and 3G/3GS basebands 04.26.08, 05.11.07, 05.12.01 and 05.13.04. If you have trouble finding ultrasn0w within Cydia, add this repo: repo666.ultrasn0w.com.

So why would you want to unlock your device to begin with? Many people enjoy the Apple hardware but prefer a more open software experience. They want to change the way things are done on their iDevice and even add some functionality that may not have already been there. It’s important to note that doing this is NOT illegal, but it does void your Apple warranty. You should always unlock or jailbreak at your own risk, and realize that no one can be held liable if you receive less-than-desirable results.

If you have an unlocked iPhone, you’re going to want to stay away from doing a straight upgrade. There are alternate update methods you can find in order to help you do some custom patching of the iOS before updating. Or, you can also use Tiny Umbrella to block your baseband and allow this upgrade.

If you’re ready to upgrade, 4.3.1 is great due to the hotspot features alone. It allows you to share your 3G signal with your iPad and other devices. With the iPad, it’s super cool because the GPS functionality from your phone will carry over into your iPad.

Have you updated your jailbroken device yet? What has your experience been like?

Bing for iPad

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The new Bing app for the iPad is actually better than Bing in the browser. No, I’m not joking. It is absolutely beautiful, and one of THE best overall iPad apps I’ve ever used. The first time I opened it up, I was drawn in for about fifteen minutes, just exploring everything it has to offer. If I were Apple, I’d be selling the device with this as a default app. It’s honestly THAT good.

The entire touch experience is right there. You can play around with everything on the screen. Anything you could possibly want – or need – is literally at your fingertips:

  • Find what’s important near you: tell Bing what you’re looking for using voice-activated search – even addresses. Find a restaurant or reserve a table. Use the Plans feature to explore nightlife options, Likes and comments on Facebook. Grab onto the social feature to see updates from Facebook and Twitter in your search results.
  • Find stores, photos, movie times and reviews, iPhone apps, travel deals, airline promotions, local weather forecasts and directions.
  • Use the real-time transit features to figure out if your bus will be on time or check the status of any flight.
  • Add information for a business or location on the map and Bing will let you know when you’re close to it.
  • Try using the Bing Vision to search using the device camera. Bring text into close view, and the app will recognize it. Select which words you want to search.
  • Scan a barcode and Bing will give you product results. It can also detect product information from QR code, Microsoft Tag, UPC codes and cover art from books, CD, DVDs, and video games.
  • Check into your favorite social sites without having to leave the app.
  • Always find the lowest rates and hottest deals on everything from dinner to movies to travel options using Bing.

I absolutely love that I can clear all of my history in about two seconds with one tap. The same can be said about turning Safe Search off and on. The setup and customization options are fantastic in this application.

Another awesome thing is that the app will keep a history of all of the places I have searched for. I can quickly scroll through and find something I’ve already looked up without having to type it out again or scrolling through results to find the correct one.

Want to see a movie tonight? Don’t just find a local theater and show times. Watch the movie trailers right within Bing. I can also get movie ratings and reviews and links to news articles written about each flick and their various actors and actresses.

This is what an app should be – something that draws you and and makes you want to explore the world around you. It’s not only functional, it’s fun. There are a lot of news and search apps out there, but this one just get it right.

iPad 2 Screen Protector

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Protecting your iPad screen is a good way to ensure that it doesn’t get scratched. iPad screen protectors reduce glare and cut down on fingerprints. A good iPad screen protector also ensures the device won’t suffer other damage. If you’re anything like me… then you have the best screen protector you can possibly find.

One of the best I’ve found happens to be from Steinheil. I’m already using protection made by them on my iPhone, and have been very happy with the results.

The number one reason I choose to use a screen protector is because I cannot stand fingerprints. The Steinheil Ultra Fine Anti-Fingerprint is very high quality, and has a hard protective surface. It protects the LCD Screen from scratches and features an advanced optical enhancement layer that eliminates fingerprints while providing a good light transmittance – without any silly-looking rainbow effects that you get with other brands.

One drawback with the Smart Cover from Apple is the fact that when removed, three lines are left running across the screen. This has been covered all over the Internet – people don’t think they should have to wipe those off. This screen protector unfortunately doesn’t get rid of this annoying issue, but it does cut down how prominent the lines are.

The company sent me the glossy version they have for sale. I found, however, that it collects just as many fingerprints as if nothing was on the device screen. If you’re looking to keep fingerprints and scuffs at bay, then you definitely want to choose the matte version.

I’m not an expert by any means. I know what works – and what sucks. Unfortunately, many of the screen protectors on the market suck hard core. This is why I’m so happy with the Steinheil. It just works. At the end of the day, that’s the only thing that matters.

If you have screen protectors on your device that you feel work even better than the Steinheil, I’d be happy to hear about them – and take a look! I’m always on the hunt for the best of the best – both for my own personal use and to pass on to all of you.

iPad Vs. Netbook: Does a Physical Keyboard Really Matter?

While his email is original, the question from community member “Tamloo” is an all-too-familiar one for me (unedited):

Hey Chris, I have been a really big fan of yous over the past couple of years. You are one of the main sources I get my technology news from. One thing I really like about you is that yes, you can be an “Apple Fanboy” at sometimes, but for the most part, you do reviews fairly and over a wide range of products and software. Unlike other tech reviews, you don’t just focus on one specific platform or company.

Well, the main reason why I am emailing you is because I recently purchased an Asus Netbook computer last year. It worked great for traveling since I travel very frequently; however I accidentally dropped my computer one week after the warranty expired and the screen completely shattered (huge crack down the middle, and I can’t see a thing on the screen). Sadly, during these rough economic times, I don’t know what kind of small-easy-to-use computer I could invest in at the moment.

Right now, all I have to use when I travel is my new iPhone4 (which I have grew to love over a month). I have not been much of an Apple fan, however I think it is actually coming out of me at the moment just like WilsonTech1 has lately. My main dilemma is what kind of computer should I get? Right now, I am extremely happy with my iPhone, and I am considering getting an iPad. But I don’t know if it is worth getting since I don’t know if the price is really right to me. If I get an iPad, I will most likely be getting the original as seeing the price has been dropped.

Now, the thing I like about a netbook is that it has a physical keyboard, but watching you videos, you state that the virtual keyboard isn’t that bad on the iPad. Is that really true? I like the iPhone’s keyboard and find it easy to use and normally don’t miss a key when typing. But does the iPad’s keyboard have that same easy and fluent functionality and can I type fast enough to have it replace a netbook?

What is your stance on this, should I go the extra $200 and buy an iPad or would a new netbook be worth it? Thanks for your opinion.

I appreciate that you’re asking for my opinion, but I can’t really tell you what to buy. It’s your money, and you need to be the one who makes the decision that works best for you. I’m only here to provide a good amount of perspective; I really have no horse in this race.

What I find most uplifting about the phrasing of your question is how you’re referring to an iPad as a computer — which it absolutely is. Few people have made this distinction, but I can tell you that the iPad can certainly do more than my first “home computer” could. The iPad is a computer.

Now, on to the crux of your quandary.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always found super-compact notebook / netbook computers to have super-scrunched, unusable-for-anything-but-infant-hand keyboards — and this flat fact, to me, defeats the purpose of having a keyboard in the first place. If your WPM on an average netbook is half of what it is on a standard keyboard, I’d be shocked.

So, are you in love with the keyboard, or merely the idea of the keyboard?

If the lack of a physical keyboard is what’s keeping you from buying an iPad, rest assured that there are countless iPad cases that accommodate workable keyboards that couple with the iPad (AND iPhone) via Bluetooth. You could also pick up an Apple Wireless Keyboard and use that in a similar fashion.

Moreover, iOS typo correction kicks the shot out of anything I’ve ever seen as a default in Windows (outright, third-party tools notwithstanding). Doesn’t that count for something in relation to keyboarding?

So, if that doesn’t help you decide, you should also be considering battery life. I’ve yet to find a single netbook computer that came close to 10-hour battery life after any amount of usage. You’d be lucky to find one that lasted 5 hours when doing nothing. If you’re never more than three hours from an electrical outlet, this may be less of an issue for you.

I think you may be better off comparing the iPad against other tablet computers (no, not Tablet PCs). There are quite a few Android devices on the market that weigh in at the same price point as a netbook, although you’re more than likely sacrificing quality if you go that direction – not just in terms of construction, but in absolute hardware features (resistive screen, no multi-touch, et al).

You can always save money — but at what cost?

It’s this phrase alone that continues to poke holes in the “too expensive” theory. Ask any owner of a faulty product how much more they would have paid to have something that just worked.

Either way, if you’re looking to save money on your impending purchase, we have a coupon site for you to use that includes savings on Apple computers.

Why Are You Still Paying for Unlimited Data?

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Pretty much since the beginning of time, I’ve had an unlimited data plan on my iPhones. That feature costs me about thirty bucks each month. I also have an unlimited plan on my iPad 3G, which costs another thirty smackers. You do the math – that’s sixty dollars each month, folks. There has to be a better solution, right?

I killed off my no-subscription-needed iPad plan. I’m going to enabling tethering via my iPhone. That plan will cost me $45.00 per month. Instead of playing $60.00 each month for two separate services, I am attempting to find a new solution that will work better for me.

I took a good look at my usage models on both devices. I hit 4 to 5GB of data combined over the course of several months. It just makes sense to pay for 4GB per month, right? The math shows that there’s just no way I should ever hit that cap.

Theoretically, I’m saving fifteen bucks each month. Keep in mind, if you switch from your old unlimited AT&T plan to a usage-based plan, you will not be able to go back – ever. It took me a moment to click that button. I know I’m saving money, but what if I do end up needing that data later? That’s something that each of you will have to consider before making this same choice.

Isn’t this a geek’s worst nightmare – losing unlimited data? But think about it for a moment… do you honestly NEED an unlimited plan? Why are you paying for that which you never use? Are you throwing your money out the window at the moment just in case you might one day need to utilize more than 4GB in any one month?

I was able to turn on the Personal Hot Spot instantly upon enabling it on my account. It was very simple to flip on and even easier to connect with. Within a matter of seconds, I was surfing the web on the iPad by using my iPhone 4.

Yes, it was slightly depressing to get rid of my unlimited plan. However, it is very cool to know I now have a Personal Hot Spot anywhere I may go.

What are the Differences Between the iPad 1 and iPad 2?

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Apple’s new iPad 2 takes the original iPad design and improves on it in a number of key ways. But in a head-to-head comparison, which tablet is better? Do your research, and make a more informed iPad purchase decision as you weigh the options of a first gen vs the newest iteration.

The differences are certainly noticeable. One of the biggest differences is the case. The second generation is certainly shorter and squatter. It’s about half as much so as the original iPad. It makes the first one look a tad clunky in comparision. This is largely due to the fact that you can hardly see the aluminum on the edges of the iPad 2. It’s just sleeker. It weighs roughly the same. I know it IS lighter, but you honestly can’t tell the difference by holding it in your hands.

Another advantage of the iPad 2 hardware is the speaker. Even though the first gen speaker is louder than this new one, it doesn’t produce as rich of a sound. Your ears will definitely hear the difference, but the sound is just so much better this time around. You’ll enjoy the clear quality when playing music and videos.

There was a slight change made to the port where you plug your charge/sync cable in on the device. The connector for the original iPad was flat whereas this new one is more rounded. I haven’t had any trouble plugging it in as of yet, but I would have chosen the flatter area if I could have. Even though I’m not a fan of this new style of cable opening, I do much prefer the overall design ethos of the iPad 2. It just FEELS nicer in my hands.

Another difference is that the mic on the iPad 2nd gen is right about the area where the front-facing camera sits. On the WiFi only version you’ll find it in the same position. The sim card slot is in a different area. The bezel seems to be roughly the same thickness and I don’t notice any difference in the screens. They both collect way too many fingerprints. I can’t wait to get a good screen protector.

The iPad 2 comes with two cameras. Keep in mind that this device is not “A” camera. It has a camera built in as an added feature. I’ve published my thoughts on the whole camera debate already. They aren’t that great – and it doesn’t really matter. If you’re slagging Apple for having low-quality cameras, then you’re missing out.

The position of the Home button seems to be the same. Size-wise, the profile is pretty much the same. As I’ve said, the first gen iPad seems to be just a smidgen larger and more of a kluge. I can’t get over how much I love the rounded edges on the new version!

If people were to pick up the two devices and choose between them, they’re more likely to want the second version. It just looks – and feels – so much smoother.

What differences are important to you when shopping for a device? How do you decide between an older (and cheaper) model and the newest one on the market?