Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The iPad2 review.

I mentioned, on Twitter, that Little Oil Co. decided to give everyone iPad 2's for Christmas, as a way of saying thanks for a good year. I've had around a month to play with it and these are my thoughts....

2 important caveats.

1. I'm not a tech-writer or IT guy, I know just enough about computers to install most software without wiping out the hard drive. So there's that.

2. I'm NOT an Apple fan. I work on a PC, have PC's at home, a Droid 2 Global phone and a Sansa mp3 player. There are a lot of things about Apple that I dislike.

That being said, I like the iPad2. Granted, I'm not sure I'd pay the price for it on the open market, but now that I have it I'm finding it to be a useful little toy. And it is a toy, despite people trying to tell you that it's a productivity enhancer. It's a fun toy, that has very interesting possibilities for travel, but it's absolutely useless for work. For typing? Well, if it's any indication I'm typing this blog post on my PC, not on my iPad.

What I do like are that there are several free apps that make it useful. I've downloaded the Chron.com app, and enjoy reading the "paper" on it. That said, if I didn't already have a Wed-Sunday subscription (which gives me the iPad version on Mon-Tues) I don't think I'd pay for the paper in this format. For me, the benefit of a newspaper subscription are the Sunday coupons. I can get news anywhere, quicker and for way less money. This is not the lifesaver that the print media thinks it's going to be. Again, on the road (with wi-fi available, so you can read the articles - or with the pretty expensive data plan) it has potential, but not as a daily read. I've also downloaded HootSuite for Twitter, which I really like. It's a slick interface that's easy to read and has a lot of flexibility. It's not TweetDeck, but it's pretty good.

This brings us to the major shortcoming that I find with the iPad2, typing. It's not that bad on Twitter, where you can only type 140 characters at a time, but when typing something that takes some work (say, a blog post) it's very time consuming. It's possible that I just have fat fingers, but I find the keyboard on the screen pretty poorly laid out. Copy and paste is also a chore, mostly because you have to close down, open the browser, drag copy the line, close the browser, open what you were working on, and paste. Call it me but Alt+Tab click and CTRL+C is much easier, and more practical.

To sum up I see me using the iPad, in place of my netbook, on plane trips etc, but I'll still use my netbook for times when I go somewhere and plan to do some typing. It will be interesting to see, on upcoming trips, how it connects to different wi-fi signals in the field, and whether it will work in Europe at all.

I do see why Apple fans like it though, it's got all of the styling and bells and whistles that they crave, iApple swagger if you will. It is a useful little toy that has good graphics, is easy to use, and has a wide variety of apps that work really well. One major drawback, and don't let apple fanbois tell you it's not, is the lack of Flash. It's frustrating to click on something and find a white page staring back at you. You miss an awful lot of the Internet without it.

Verdict: Good, sturdily built, useful (at some things) tablet, but not sure if I find it worth the high price. To be fair, if I wasn't so reliant on Windows and Office for most of my work I might like it better.

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