Product Type: Apple Tablet PCs / eBook Readers
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Everyone should have one!
Apple iPad Wi-Fi + 3G 64 GB
Member Name: tlmartin
Apple iPad Wi-Fi + 3G 64 GB
Advantages: A mobile easy to carry multipurpose device
Disadvantages: No memory upgradeability
I received my iPad on Wednesday 9th June. It was ordered in the second batch of pre-orders, so it was a 'ship before 7th june'. It shipped itself from china to Bangkok to Mumbai to east midlands to telford, leaving on the 5th June.
Luckily when I received it I also received the Apple case, reviewed separately and luckily I also received a screen protector from amazon, this is definitely needed as I will explain later.
Just like the delivery route having a huge carbon footprint, so does the box it comes in. The outer packaging of a brown box is about 33% bigger than the iPad box, which is supported in the middle of the box using buffers, I take to minimise any shock. After removing the lush white Apple box, ( you have to admit they have style). I lifted the lid to reveal my iPad, covered in plastic film. As I took the iPad out I noticed a small flat rectangular slip of a case that contained a basic 5 step guide to turning on and activating your iPad and the MicroSIM eject tool.
Activating requires access to a PC or a Mac where iTunes is installed and it has Internet access. This also means you need an iTunes account. Now whether this is a good or bad thing I have mixed feelings about. By having to register it, it ensures that you activate your warranty, which for a user means you don't need to prove you purchase date. For the business it allows them to keep track of the equipment for sales info. It also means your purchases can be immediately placed on the iPad whether it is music, apps you use on the iPhone etc, as apple allows you to authorise 6 devices. To be honest this is pretty good as it's not too many devices but not very restrictive, (it would be nice if Microsoft did this for this for the xbox so I have to use one for downloads, and if you upgrade you can only move your stuff once a year. ) the reason DRM fails is due to the restrictions only allowing 1 device when so many of us have more, 1 with the tv, in study, portable etc.
As stated the problem with needing to activate via iTunes is that you need a computer, however I have seen number of stores willing to activate and set you up an account so you can get up and running. Most functions don't require a PC, as you can get apps throughout the App Store through 3G or WiFi straight from the iPad, this is also the same with the iTunes store and Book Store. However the PC does come in useful for backing up you iPad settings and configurations, plus internally created documents. It is also useful to moving apps offline that you own but may not wish to currently use, swell as putting on personal movies and music. The other main benefit of a PC is that it allows for the iPhone OS (iOS) to be upgraded and version 4 will be awesome, when it comes out at the end of June, especially for business users allowing multiple Exchange accounts to be used. (If they had announced that 4 months ago I wouldn't have taken a Blackberry, I would have waited for the iPhone as I use 3 Exchange accounts.)
Before I activated the iPad I thought "let's get the screen protector on" and it was a good move. Just a few hours usage and swipe ends up covering your screen in smears. As I mentioned i'll review the protector I chose another time. After I had gone through the very quick activation I put the Apple case on it, it fitted nicely and hid the few bubbles of the screen protector right at the edge of the iPad screen. This doesn't obstruct the screen as the 9.7" screen has a 1" black border. Again I will review this in a future post.
Finally I could turn it on. I was first impressed that it came fully charged, and I mean fully charged as I thought, i'll run the battery down to get a full charge in it, and it took about 36hours to get it down to charge it up. During this time I had played music, video, wifi was on constantly viewing the web and downloading applications. The battery is very impressive, I only charge this iPad (yes I am using the iPad to write this) every 2 days. During that time I use iWork, wifi and 3G always are on, I play pod and vodcasts, and even a few games. The only annoying thing is that when you decide to hook it up you have to think, sync or charge, it can't do both for normal users. The iPad requires a 10w input, this is only available through the proper charge or through newer Apple Mac computers, typical PC usb ports can not provide that kind power. So for myself normally every 2 nights I put this on charge over night, but every morning as I shower I connect it to my PC to sync. This then leads me to my next discussion point, syncing.
As a user if you don't sync you will really miss out on some of the safety and easy features of the iPad. You sync your iPad for the main reason of updates, this sis so that when Apple release operating system updates you can apply them to your iPad. This is definitely important with iOS4 on our door steps. The other reason for synching is to get a backup. The backup isn't of the synched items like music, photos, apps, etc it is for the important things like settings and internally stored files that you create using the applications. Now ts has been reported that it can take up some time, I haven't experienced this yet but I have only occupied about 10gb of my storage so ace on a 64gb model. (this shows a high capacity is needed as I only have a few podcasts, midcoasts and 5 music albums on here and about 500mb of apps). The suggestions to fix this are to always use the cable supplied with the ipad, for some reason it works quicker than using the iPhone or a generic iPad cable and try to connect directly to the PC rather than through a hub.
Once you have turned your iPad on and activated it you would be best to go into the settings and configure the usage. I will talk about the settings here instead of the app section due to the fact it is a controller app of how the iPad and the other apps work.
In settings you have the following settings
Airplane - this is just a simple switch that I assume will just disable all wifi and mobile communications. I would also assume it would just disable all push notifications, as naturally on a plane you can't use these wireless functions otherwise you'll probably crash. As I haven't taken this on holiday yet I can only assume, but it is bound to work just like on a mobile phone. The manual states it actually stops you being able to use the applications using the defined features that are disabled with that option, and that you then have the ability to activate specific parts of the iPad depending on the rules of the airline and laws of the country.
Wifi - in this area you can turn you wifi device on or off. Mine is continually left on and it really doesn't make any usable impact on the battery, and a lot of it's time is spent searching for a network, rather than being connected. The iPad automatically searches for all networks in the area to allow you to join them, once you authorised a network you have the chance to type in any specific settings, ip, dns, etc obviously for those with BT hubs you can also configure a network manually, specifying the name and settings etc. The iPad remembers all of the networks you have joined, but only shows them when they are detected, so you don't have a huge list to go through, especially bearing in mind most mobile companies give free unlimited access to wifi base stations so you don't use their 3G. The final option here is that you can allow or disallow the iPad to automatically connect to known networks. If a network is not known or you have disallowed it will always ask you. This can be annoying slightly, due to the fact it will inform you it detects a network, when u may well just want to u 3G. I.e. I don't want to use my schools wifi as there are too many restrictions I want to use 3G due to me being able to do what I like, however each day I have to tell it I don't want to join that wifi network. The only other bad point about this is there is no easy way to delete a network from your authorised listing, well not that i've come across yet.
Carrier - my iPad is the 3G version so it can accept a micro sim. This area shows which network you're connected to. It also tells you the detected networks in the area, so while automatically deals with connecting to the designated network of the sim, you can manually connect to other networks, obviously this depends on what you're sim will allow, but I suspect this is the way to choose the right/cheapest network when roaming. The iPad detects all networks, as I had a complete list of the UK companies show up. This clearly shows the way forward of non-network-locked devices.
Notifications - this setting clearly shows the full customisability of the iPad. On this menu you can set whether or not you wish for notifications from your push applications. These are the things telling you, you have new message or your crops are ready (in We Rule and most likely the future coming Farmville App). Well so far we'd expect something like that, however we have full control. Each app that uses push notifications will end up being listed in here for you to customise the settings. There are three settings, Sound. Where the iPad will make a noise to alert you, Alerts where you get a flash up telling you something has happen.d or needs your attention and badges which put a number on top of the App icon alerting you to how many things that App has had happen. For practical use, I know Facebook gets a lot of notifications that drain the battery so I have turned tho off but I leave my We Rule game notifications on to tell me when I need to go into the game and do something.
Cellular data - why they didn't group this with carrier I don't know, but here is where you can setup the settings for connecting to your 3G provider. The APN, username and password, not all companies use these, or certainly don't tell you they use these. I use Orange network at the moment, and I connected yet I couldn't access the Internet, when I called them a second time after activation thy asked if I had entered 'orange data' in the APN, which of cause I hadn't due to the micro sim guide not telling me to. Well that solved the problem and had me up and running. Orange don't u a username and password so they were left blank. So any sim configuration you need to do is done here.
Brightness and wallpapers - brightness allows you to adjust the standard brightness of the device using a simple slide bar. It also has a switch for auto brightness that dims the background light after no use to conserve battery. On the iPad you have two wallpapers. One for the lock screen which is shown while the device is locked, and one for the menu screens which show you your Apps. The iPad comes with some ready available HD wallpapers you can choose from or you can take them from your camera roll from pictures you have synced or saved. This is good and allows some nice personalisation of your device. What would be nicer would be the ability to have a different wallpaper on each screen, hey who knows an Apple developer may read this and add the option.
Picture frame - this setting allows you to configure you £700 iPad into a good quality picture frame. It allows you to setup the picture transitions between dissolve and origami. Dissolve just fades in and out of each picture it displays. Origami is where the true skill in the iPad is. With origami it puts more than one photo on the screen at a time, two perhaps three maybe four. The pictures fold out of each other to be displayed, but what is really good is it crops the images to ensure it all fits, what is even better is the software identifies the key focus of the picture so it is always shown. I had this running through 900 pictures for an hour and not once did it focus on the wrong thing. The picture frame tool can only be run from the lock screen, so you can set this going as your iPad is locked, but if you iPad is locked anyone can start this going so you might need to be careful about some of the pictures on you iPad if left unattended. The final option in the settings is for you to either setup to view all photos on the iPad or to select specific albums to be shown.
General - this contains tho general options and allows you to view the general info about your iPad. The first one About shows you the capacity, usage of the iPad, what wifi is connected, the Mac address, the cell provider and phone number of your micro sim, etc. The usage option tells you about how much data you have not and received, useful for ensuring you don't go over any limits. The only problem here is you have to reset it manually each month, as it is accumulative. In this option you can turn on or off the sounds for the various default actions of the iPad, receiving mail, locking, calendar alerts etc. The next part is about network options, including setting up a VPN if your a company user. I must admit this is a good feature, Apple have realised businesses love their devices. The next option is Bluetooth, to allow you to find devices to link to, I have left this off due to Bluetooth having a reputation for draining battery life. The next is location services. This activates the GPS that is inbuilt in the wifi+3G version. This is used by a number of Apps, maps being the better one for using this.
Mail, contacts and calendar - this allows for you to set up your email including gmail, hotmail, pop, and exchange accounts. Since iOS 4.2 you can also have multiple exchange accounts, this is very useful if you do work at multiple places or have a home and work exchange server. Contacts can be set where to sync from and to. I find this part easier to sync to my outlook using iTunes. However the most important one to me is the calendar sync. I use google calendar, my wife has a calendar and I have 2, one for work and one for personal. Syncing the google calendar uses an exchange account connection as it uses ActiveSync, which is no longer a problem since iOS 4.2. The calendar app on the iPad gets all of the data and colour codes it, unfortunately you do not have a choice of colours, but at least you can see all three or more calendars in one program, you can edit al if you have that allowed access and you can add appointments. We use it because I can add to my personal or work calendar, and my wife can see where I am and she can make bookings for me if we're going out for a meal etc, so it becomes an excellent organisation tool.
Safari - this gives you full control of the web browser, as in access to cache, clearing it, etc, the default browser, java, etc so you can truly customise your web experience. T be honest I haven't had much need to use this as the defaults are just fie
iPod - this gives you control of iPod settings, like the volume levels, whether to show lyrics etc, so general settings you'd get on the iPod.
Videos - this allows you to set up your videos, do they remember where you paused them so you can continue where you left off or always redraft from beginning, it also controls about the TV output and let's you set that up in case you wish to watch your movie or vodcast on the tv instead of the iPad
Photos - this area let's you set up the slide show as I mentioned previously. How long each picture stays on screen, the settings for the animation, whether to collage the pics or have them individual.
App Store - this controls e log into to the app store where you go to buy your apps for your iPad.
Any app that has any special settings will also get listed here. It allows you to configure all of your settings under one screen, with a very nice and neat layout. I think having one icon for settings is perfect as all the configuration is easy to find. To many times on a computer have I found that each programs settings are hidden in different places. Some under menus on screen, some in different programs to the main program, but here under one icon, all in one area just makes it so much more user friendly.
There are a number of standard included Apps on the iPad that allow you to start playing before you have to download anything
Safari - this is a good web browser it will show you everything you need to see on a website, it allows for quick searching with an integrated search area by an area where you can just type in e web address. It contains bookmarks so you can store sites you visit often as well as allowing you to use folders all pages can be easily zoomed in and out by expanding or pinching your fingers on the screen. The obvious down side is the fact it does not support flash. There has been much debate about this being good or bad, as an IT professional flash has it's uses, but the only time I have ever been infected with a virus on a pc was through a flash security hole, so I can understand Apple not wanting Flash on their system if they won't properly build it for the iPad. (Apple set up rules for all application developers and Flash is the only group that don't want to abide by those rules, go Steve Jobs for sticking top your convictions and not allowing the big Adobe to try and bully you) overall I think I have only been to 2 sites in 7 months that required flash for some content I wished to see, so it probably won't make that big an impact.
Mail - a nice simple email software. Once set up in settings it allows you to view your email by mailbox, or you can view all your email in one combined mailbox. Saving attachments is simple enough if you have an app that supports the file type. Sending emails is also quite simple, linking directly into your contacts to get the email address. Overall the software is easy to use and does all it needs to.
Calendar - as mentioned previously you can sync is to other calendars if you wish and all can live along died each other. There is also a calendar built into the device which doesn't get synced, so iPad only invade you need any no synced notes. The only thing that would truly improve this would be the ability to integrate tasks/todo lists, for instance I have a todo list on my google calendar by that doesn't sync to the iPad calendar, another app is needed for that.
Contacts - this has a lovely design to it. Like a traditional paper based contact book you have the letters down the side from a-z and you choose what you want, but there is also a search facility and it neatly lays out all individuals by name alphabetically. Iside each name there is all the information you wish to store about them. If you don't store information the heading doesn't appear so you're not even having to see a list of heading even if you only store the person and their phone number. If however you have the iPad turned landscape the design is still there however you have a 2 page book. The name you select on the left and their details appear on the right so you can view both at the same time. It is a lovely book design and makes finding people so easy.
Notes - is a small notepad app. You get pages in simple yellow lined paper design. Very easy to quickly make notes on and make multiple pages. However all pages are within the same notebook, so for instance I have one page with notes of a room code, but I have to scroll past that to get to a shopping list, so it is not very secure, and the more note pages you make the more flipping through your book you have to do. However it is great for quick and easy notes before you type up elsewhere ( or copy and paste ).
Videos - is what managed your movies, it splits them into 2 categories, videos and vodcasts. This is useful as any main feature movie you have put on your iPad is easily differentiated between all the very useful vodcasts you will find yourself subscribing to. For videos you upload through iTunes in an idevice compatible format, obviously on an iPad you have a bigger screen to work to. However if you have not been a vodcasts listener before you will now find you are. Go to the podcast area of the iStore and you will find lots of great podcasts, further more you will find them with video, there are numerous ones for cooking, training, entertainment, and reviewing apps for the iPad. I found very quickly I subscribed to quite a few and as I exercise I just let them play through. Having the iPad means you are more likely to be somewhere where you have 5 mins with nothing to do and a vodcasts will fill that nicely, while letting you know something new. Before the iPad I never bothered with them, but I am regularly watching them now to find good apps and new video games I want.
YouTube - the YouTube website hosts a huge variety of videos that are excellent to watch, this app is the iPads doorway into the YouTube world, it allows for quick and easy account management as well as finding and watching new videos, while taking away the website element and giving you a much more well designed and nicer looking interface into this world. It doesn't do anything more that give access to YouTube, but it does so in a stylish way.
ITunes - this app is for all of your iTunes store needs, downloading music, videos, podcasts and vodcasts. The idea is that while you need a pc to activate you iPad and most apple shops will do that, and a pc is useful for you to backup your iPad, it is not essential for your general use. iTunes store allows you to buy the song you want and download it over the net directly to your iPad, no longer will a pc required as a go between. This does present some risks as iTunes doesn't store what you've downloaded so if you loose your device you've lost your purchase, however it does present a useful part that if you are away from your pc you can still buy a song or a video, or subscribe to a pod/vidcast while on the move.
AppStore - this is the heart of all the exciting things you can do on the iPad. All of the apps for the iPad and iPhone are listed here. All iPhone apps will load and work on the iPad, however just be weary of things like SMS apps because you don't have an SMS service on the iPad, so use your common sense. The AppStore has some main sections. The first is a nice presentation of what's new and what is being promoted, it's good for a quick look at anything apple wants you to know about. On here you can search for any app you wish to know about and it will give you results grouped by iPad and iPhone so you can choose what you like and see how much they are.
The next section is a ranking of apps split into two categories of paid and free. This initially shows the top 25 but it can be expanded to show more.
The next section is Genius, this is where the store will recommend apps you may like based upon apps you have already purchased and kept installed on your iPad. I have found a few good apps through this, however there can still be some totally irrelevant apps. I guess I may confuse it is as I use my iPad for education, consultancy work, videos, personal, general business and entertainment.
The next section is where all apps are sorted into categories so you can look for the type of apps you may want, games, productivity, etc. There is a lot of rubbish in here as a loads of apps are released daily, I very rarely use this.
The final section is the updater, the iPad keeps a note of the apps you have and tells you when any updates are available so you can authorise the installation. This is great as you don't have to watch out for updates yourself. These can sometimes be bug fixes, new features added, new levels for a game or anything.
Overall the iPad is a fantastic device. I am extremely pleased with it. I have previously bought net books, ereaders, pc's macs, iPods etc, and this device is used everyday just like my main computer. My net book was great when I first had it, but a month in it was a pain and I stopped using it, my mac book I only use for creative purposes, my ereader I only use when on holiday, my iPod I only use in the car,(I also used to take into class to play music, but now I can do that with my iPad so it stays in my car). My main pc I do use every day for email, browsing, work, web development, etc, and that I could not live without. My iPad I have owned for over 7 months now and I still use it every day, it certainly isn't a fad, it's a very productive device. It is great with all the other apps I have for entertainment, for productivity, for writing reviews, for reading, for having reference material when I go to do it support jobs, for planning, keeping notes on, and just having fun. This device is something I would not want to live without, to me it is just as important as my pc, every other gizmo comes well after those devices.
A couple of apps well worth getting and will be reviewed after are game centre (it gives an achievement system to your games, like on the xbox360) and iBooks as this allows you to buy books, get free books, and add your own PDFs to build up wire a huge library to carry with you.
Buy this device! But definitely go for the larger capacity as there is so much you can do with it, and lots of content you will want to do that with. The only choice left is then wifi or wifi+3G, I preferred wifi+3G as I can do whatever I want, when I want.
Summary: Everyone should have one!!!!
|Ease of use:|
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