Friday, March 23, 2012

New iPad - Week One

So I've had a week with my New iPad (64GB black w/ Verizon 4G LTE). I wish I could say that it's rocked my world, but the truth is, New iPad is more "evolutionary" than "revolutionary". I hope that doesn't sound negative, because it's certainly not meant that way: fitting 4x as many pixels into the screen and not raising the price or diminishing the battery life is a pretty darned amazing feat. It's just that the higher resolution in and of itself is probably not going to significantly raise your pulse rate. Maybe an app or apps will appear that truly take advantage of the resolution, but I haven't seen one yet.

My family's reception to the New iPad was pretty much what I expected: they all think it's pretty but the kids are still in love with their new iPhone 4S's and R wants to wait for the smaller form factor iPad rumored to be released later this year.

I was somewhat surprised that the high resolution display -- the one thing I'd really been waiting for -- didn't just amaze and astonish me. I thought it would have me huddled on the couch, speechless save for uttering the occasional Neo-like "woah!", for at least a week. But no.

Don't get me wrong, I like the high resolution, but the new processor is perhaps the most noticable improvement over my original iPad. The device is simply a lot more responsive, and while I used to suffer occasional "stutters" when streaming video, that's no longer an issue.

The 4G LTE / Wifi hotspot is nice, too: I dropped $50 on some bandwidth this weekend while R was driving the family around. Setup was painless (well, the $50 hurt a bit) and the kids were able to connect easily and surf the web on their iPhones as we drove around town. Data speed varied quite a lot (1.0 Mbps to 10Mbps) as we drove around; just sitting here at home I ran a set of speed tests and got latencies running from 57 to 70ms, downloads of 9.3 to 18.0Mbps, and uploads of 1.0 to 4.0Mbps. All in all, better than my home Wifi. I just wish it weren't so darned expensive. I hate metered plans. It reminds me of when I was a kid, and long distance telephone calls were charged by the minute.

(People have asked me why I don't just get a dedicated mobile Wifi hotspot. YMMV, but when my family travels, we tend to carry waaay to much electronic stuff around: computers, phones, games, etc, and of course each device has at least one cable or charger associated with it. So a combo iPad / Wifi hotspot equates to two or three fewer things to carry around and possibly lose or leave in the hotel room)

I'm also pretty happy about going with the 64GB model -- I can always find more stuff to load onto the device. Perhaps my one major unhappiness with New iPad is that they didn't offer 128GB or 256GB models.

The voice dictation feature (also available on the iPhone 4S and maybe elsewhere) is surprisingly nice. I'm beginning to get into the habit of using it for web searches, and I like it a lot.

I've been seeing numerous articles about "consumer complaints" about the New iPad, and perhaps I'm biased, but most of them are really stretching:

  • "It breaks more easily than previous iPads" -- Until someone does a rigorous test and drops 10 or 20 of each model, I consider this complete BS.
  • "It gets hot" -- Well, yeah, quad-core GPUs will do that. As long as it's within tolerances and doesn't cause thermal shutdowns and / or damage the device, I don't see the problem. And, frankly, every serious iPad user I know has a case wrapped around theirs, which acts as an insulator and also protects the device when you drop it. Not "if" -- "when".
  • "It takes longer to charge" -- Debatable, and even if it's true, you can still get 10+ hours of battery life on a full charge, which is pretty freaking amazing.
  • "My Wifi doesn't work right" -- The only legitimate complaint I've heard so far. Personally I've had no problem with it, but if people have Wifi issues, they need to exchange their devices and Apple needs to address the issue.
  • "I use up too much data streaming movies through 4G" -- Well, *duh*!
  • "It's heavier than previous iPads" -- Yes, by 0.1lbs. Give me a break.

I could go on, but I won't. With the exception of the possible Wifi issue, these all remind me of a whining spoiled child: "... but I wanted a white pony, daddy! This one is tan!" A real "consumer complaint" is "the device won't turn on" or "I've got a bunch of dead pixels" or "the touchscreen doesn't work".

My final verdict: it's a definite win. I mean, they added all this new stuff and kept the price the same. That's pretty frikkin' awesome. Realistically, though: it was a pretty easy "buy" decision for me as an original iPad owner. But if I'd had an iPad 2 ... unless I saw New iPad in person and just fell head-over-heels in love with the display, I'd probably wait for "iPad 4".

Any regrets? Just one: I wish I'd gone for white instead of black. I'll live.

(So what will I do with my original iPad? I'm not sure, but I'm thinking that I might hook it up to my synthesizer rig and use it as a dedicated music device).

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