You don’t need to be much of a tech geek these days to be aware of the savvy Apple iPad. The quietly released fourth generation with retina display isn’t all too different from the third generation iPad with retina display, but its new A6X processor made the 4th gen 64GB the tablet of choice for me this Black Friday.
For all its portability and fun, there have still been numerous reports of inconvenience when it comes to using an iPad as anything other than an e-reader or an oversized e-mail checker. In all technicality, it is true that an iPad is not a laptop; but given my usage needs (college and business), the iPad has become the perfect laptop replacement.
Design: the iPad is just smaller than a letter sized piece of paper. It’s lightweight at 1.44 lbs., which makes it easy to carry around like a mobile device. The buttons are simple, consisting of an on/off button, mute/rotation lock switch, a volume rocker, and a home button for navigation. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out which button does what.
Technology: The iPad 4 looks externally identical to the 3, minus the lightning connector. I’m no tech expert, so I won’t even try to understand what kind of difference this makes. All I know is that it’s smaller than the previous 30-pin dock, and charging time doesn’t seem to be too long (although never having use an iPad before, I can’t compare the two).
Internally the iPad 4 sports an A6X system chip, which the tech geeks have tested to indeed make it run more fluently in terms of touchscreen response. Again, I do not attempt to understand the geek bench numbers, but I can say that based on intuition, the response is more instantaneous than other touchscreen devices.
The back camera is a humble 5MB, but let’s be real… Who goes around using their 9.5×7.31″ iPad as a camera?? That’s just obnoxious. The more useful front-facing camera was upgraded to 1.2MB, which makes Skype video calls a bit clearer. I’ve heard of better cameras on other tablets/mobile devices though.
Retina display – it doesn’t seem much of a deal breaker since the iPad 3 also had retina. I’m going to be honest when I say that at Best Buy, I couldn’t tell the difference between retina and non-retina. Mom (and evidently the rest of the general population) can though, so I’ll take their word for it.
RAM is kept at 1GB, and storage options of 16, 32, and 64GB are retained. I bought the 64 and loaded it with productivity and business apps with no games whatsoever, so I can’t say if the iPad will slow down due to too many apps. Apps are different than computer software though, so I don’t know how it works.
The iPad 3 was notorious for its “overheating issues”. I have no idea how hot is ‘hot’, being as I have never used an iPad 3, but whatever it was about the heat, the 4 has evidently fixed it. I’ve used my iPad for hours on end (not playing games mind you, but watching YouTube), and have to yet to feel it get more than slightly warm.
The one big thing I do not like about the iPad is its lack of support for Flash. Why!? It’s such an overly-used program, I wonder why they aren’t able (or don’t want to) develop Flash support. It makes for visiting certain websites a pain in the apples.
One of the other loved aspects is Wifi + 4G. I didn’t get the 4G version, but now I wish I did. There is only a $100 difference, and the iPad can be used as a better and cheaper landline telephone than my iPhone ever was. I’ll be explaining what I mean by this in another post. However, I heard that 4G only works fast in the larger cities, which I find to be true. Using my iPhone in my rural hometown, I’ve never seen Safari load so slowly. Keep in mind that 4G access also means purchasing a micro-SIM card and paying monthly fees.
Siri… Where do I begin? It’s been available on all the recent mobile iOS devices, and its gotten its fame long before Ellen Degeneres asked it funny questions on her show… But personally I find it creepy. I’ve asked it questions that its answered almost flawlessly, and although I know it doesn’t really have a mind… *shiver, I just find it awkward to talk to a machine.
iCloud is easily my favorite Apple mobile feature. Auto-synch makes organizing everything much easier, and I can access my calendar on all Apple devices, which is indescribably beneficial as I rely on iCal like a fish relies on water.
Touchscreen: The big attraction. But also many people’s drawback when it comes to typing. Many spend an extra hundred bucks on a Bluetooth keyboard, but its really unnecessary. I’ve seen videos of supposed tech geeks typing an average of 10WPM, but they only utilize two out of ten fingers. Use them all, darn it! Having never used a touchscreen keyboard before, I am still easily able to hit 97-110WPM (I am typing this entire entry using the onscreen keyboard, FYI) without even looking at the screen. Rare and minor mistakes are also easily corrected using autocorrect. However, typing on the touchscreen will be slower than a tangible keyboard, so it really just depends on your talents for typing!
Touchscreen interface also means the capability to turn your iPad into a notebook for handwriting. I purchased the dandy (and expensive) Adonit Jot Pro. There are a lot more limitations and compromises when it comes to writing/sketching on the iPad (especially when used in unison with the recommended screen protector), but I’ll be doing a full review on this in another post.
Experience: I’m using my iPad for basic laptop replacement – because I don’t do anything fancy like video editing on it. I save all of that for my large 21″ desktop. So in those terms, the iPad is a great and lightweight alternative to paper and note-taking in lectures.
I’ve also been using it to watch YouTube, but I’m not a big fan of it since I’d rather watch movies on a large screen. The iPad is, however, an absolute perfect personal library. All of my books are in one spot without the trouble of carrying them around, and I can read with the lights off. Bonus! I also love news and RSS feeder apps, which I’ll be covering in another post as well.
Pricing: Let’s all check into reality now. Apple devices are expensive. In fact, if I didn’t sell my MacBook Pro, I would not have been able to get an iPad. Full-sized iPads come in…
$499 – 16GB / $599 – 32GB / $699 – 64GB Wifi only
$629 – 16GB / $729 – 32GB / $829 – 64GB Wifi + cellular
It appears that in Canada, universities don’t give much of a discount either. So there are really only two times a year that the iPad goes on decent sale: Boxing Day and Black Friday.
Summation: Basically, it comes down to your capabilities and needs. If you want to type a lot and can’t handle an onscreen keyboard, I would just a buy a laptop or MacBook Air instead. The same goes for if you use a laptop for heavy-duty work, or you don’t own an actual computer. Another important factor is price – you can get two Acer laptops for one wifi + cellular iPad, and the iPad won’t necessarily meet all your needs.
– Fast and efficient typing (for some)
– No more paper
– Everything is on one device
– Can study/read/watch movies in any position
– If using stylus, screen protectors are recommended, but they decrease the stylus rendering abilities
– No Flash support
– No multi-tasking