Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The iPad Mini version 1. Don't pack up the backpacks yet!

I have not yet seen the presentation tonight for the iPad Mini, but I must say that I am a little disappointed by what I have seen on the specs page.  There is one glaring omission from the specs that I fully expected to see at the rollout:  The Retinal Display.

I suspect that it must be very difficult and indeed expensive to produce retinal displays.   This is the only reason that I can fathom for Apple not having one included on the iPad Mini. And this is a big deal!

The iPad Mini has been touted for schools and reading, with an updated version of iBooks available today on account of the iPad Mini's presence.  Further confirmation that Apple is promoting this as a reading tool to take on Amazon, Google and Barnes & Noble.  But take a look at the following Specs and we can see that this is not going to be a pleasurable long term reading experience:

Amazon Kindle Fire HD $249.00  7"   1280 x  800   (216 ppi)*   720p HD.

Google Nexus 7  $249 (16 gb) WXGA (1280 x 800) LED backlit IPS panel,  (216 ppi)

Apple iPad Mini  $329  1024-by-768 resolution at (163 ppi)

* ppi  "Pixels per inch or PPI is a measure of the number of pixels displayed in an image. A digital image is composed of samples that your screen displays in pixels. The PPI is the display resolution not the image resolution."   (http://desktoppub.about.com/od/glossary/)

(To learn more about ppi, go to About.Com (http://desktoppub.about.com/od/glossary/g/PPI-Pixels-Per-Inch.htm)

If you are looking for a comparison, look no further than the non back lit Amazon Kindle Keyboard and Kindle Touch.  Both display e-ink wonderfully in sunlight, but the display is made for this type of resolution.  Both have resolutions of 167 ppi.  A fourth generation iPad costing over $300 should not be on par in resolution with either a $69 or $139 device which are the respective prices for the Kindle Touch and Kindle Keyboard.  Granted, one will do a lot more with the iPad Mini than with a Kindle, but if you are going to tout the excellent reading experience, any PPI < 200 should not even be considered for long term casual, let alone technical reading.   It's just not a suitable device to do this.  Additional eye strain will ensue when reading as it did with the glaring screen resolution of the iPad 2, which I own.

Perhaps the advertising gurus at Apple will tout the ECO-System that Apple has, along with the automatic scaling of current apps to the new display and screen size; or  tout the iPad Mini's excellent form, relatively fast chip and convenience.  Perhaps.    But what cannot be touted with version 1 of this device is the aspect of long term reading.  This is just not the device to do that.  And for this I am afraid that I will have to pass on the iPad Mini for my own kids who were initially excited about the device, but who are now, for the reasons that I have just explained,  sad and disappointed.  You see, this device would have doubled as a textbook holder for about 3 thick textbooks which are also available online.   Add to that, the iBook store and Amazon's Kindle store having all of the books needed for their English and Drama classes and that large back pack would have been downsized.

Not to worry kids, we all know better than to buy version 1 of a Tech Product.   Version 2 may give us everything that we really want.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

iMessage - A Real Game Changer.

I always knew that iMessage was a game changer, but I never really realized how much of a game changer it was until I traveled abroad.  During my travels, I had to turn off all cellular data and essentially use the iPhone as an expensive iPod, until I realized that a few apps would save me from ridiculous phone bills upon my return.

First, you should and must download SKYPE.  It is a necessity.  Without it, my phone calls back to the United States would have been over $1 per minute after all of the overage charges were assessed.  But iMessage, with its reliance on only WiFi*, which was available at a lot of the hotels, family homes and businesses made texting to and from many of the Caribbean and Atlantic Islands a real possibility.  Not only was it a wonderful addition to my armament, it was fast and free!   Although many in the Caribbean use an app called WhatsApp to deliver text messages, I was a little queasy about giving up my 500 member Contacts list to a third party developer while outside of the U.S.  What was nice was the fact that just about all of the people that I needed to contact carried iPhones.  It meant that even in small villages, I could still communicate quite easily with friends and family, as long as I had WiFi.  For those who did not have an iPhone, WhatsApp would have sufficed as well.

The wonderful thing about iMessage is its ability to be completely non discriminatory when it came to texting data.  I sent an 80 mbyte video easily to a family member during a diving trip without a hiccup.  And when I was ready, I used Skype to communicate with folks in London and New York.

Granted, I wasn't knee deep in the Amazon rain forest, for which this whole WiFi scenario would have been moot, but the Caribbean and Atlantic islands are immersed in intermittent WiFi - the quality of which is not equal unfortunately, but it affords a few free avenues of communication if you have a smart phone - and one particularly brilliant and flawless avenue if you have an iPhone.


Interestingly, for all of the chatter about Facetime on 3G/4G, I did not use it at all during my travels.  I don't know why, but it didn't really feel necessary.  Something I found rather interesting.  Perhaps not everyone is as interested in seeing you as much as they are in just talking to you.

*  Facetime was not available on 3G when I originally penned this article in August, 2012.

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