The iPad Challenge–30 days (Day 1)

I’ve set upon a personal challenge: try 30 days with an Apple iPad. This doesn’t seem too bad, until you find out this will be my first personal Apple purchase. I don’t have anything against Apple, it’s just finding a use for the device. I’ve always had a problem that required a tool. This is the first time I’m buying a tool without having a problem.

ipad2Front-Big

I’m a lifelong Microsoft user, having used Apple products very rarely (Apple 2e, Mac Classic and recently a Hackintosh). I’ve played with other peoples Apple products (iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone 4), but never got too deep into the workings of them. So, I am a complete newbie when it comes to Apple products. I’m an IT nerd, but I am completely in the dark with iOS or Mac OSX (other than the BSD based core).

I’m coming from a modded Nook Color (using Cyanogen Mod 7.1), which has served me very well. I love Android OS and it’s openness, modability, and the plethora of options available. This is also why I was hesitant on an iPad, it’s pretty much the opposite. Windows 8 tablets aren’t available right now, not that they weren’t on the list for a future purchase. This was more of a “buy it now, ask questions later” purchase.

I bought a black 16 GB version with Wi-fi (not ready for the commitment of a 4G plan yet). Accessories are incoming via Amazon (I didn’t even consider a Kindle Fire). It’s nice and light, very simple packaging. Just minimal packaging and graphics.

So, after a day of using it, I don’t know if it’s the new gadget feelings or the actual device, but it’s a very spectacular device. I won’t go into detail on the retina display as I’m sure it’s beaten to death many, many times. It’s good. It’s excellent. I’ll leave it at that. The iPad is a lot faster and more responsive than my Android, which is expected for the specifications and that the Nook Color was designed to be an e-reader and not a tablet. Also, a huge price difference ($200 vs. $500). But, even with basic reading of PDF’s or ePub books – the iPad is much faster at rendering, and the 10” screen allows me to read a page without zooming or scrolling to view the full page. The rendering is excellent, the text is extremely easy to read and the pictures are clear.

The touchscreen is extremely accurate and responsive. It is a huge improvement from the Nook Color. It is a night and day difference.

Battery life is good so far – I charged it once yesterday when I bought it to 100%. I’m at 75% now after using it quite a bit.

iTunes. Well, I found a weakness of the iPad. iTunes on Windows crashes, locks up, becomes unresponsive, and is generally a pain in the ass. Sometimes, it takes 2 or 3 times of connecting the iPad to get iTunes to recognize it. Windows can see it fine, but iTunes just is blind to the fact that it’s there.

Another thing that I am having difficulty adjusting to is the lack of a file explorer. I would like to have folders that hold the various files I have on the iPad. I’d like to move files over and then decide which application opens the file. Instead, I use iTunes to move my books, music and files over. Some other apps require me to use Dropbox to store them and open them from there. This is something I’ll have to get used to.

Using the thing is pretty easy once you figure out how things are laid out and where to find things. I spend a good 5 minutes looking for the browser (tip: it’s not in the scrollable icons by default: it’s in the dock at the bottom). Chalk that up to a newbie problem. Other than that minor problem, I’ve had nothing but fun with this thing. I’ve downloaded a bunch of apps (any suggestions on must-have’s?), including Microsoft’s OneNote, StreamToMe, Angry Birds, Flipboard, Twitter and TeamViewer. I’d like a nice SSH/Telnet application, but I’m not paying $10 to find out that I don’t like it. My Windows Phone allows me to “try” an application before I commit to buy the full thing. I’ve been misled in the past with a crappy paid for app, and I don’t want it happening again.

So, after 1 day, I’d say I’m a fan. The iPad isn’t magical, though. It’s just a good tablet and excellent e-reader. But, I’ll report back after 15 days and again at 30. Let’s see if this satisfaction can last a month. Now, if I can just figure out how to get rid of iTunes, I’d be happy.

Also, somewhat related: can you build iPad apps using Windows, or is Objective C only available on the Mac? Can’t find much information for programming apps on Windows.

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  • Phoenixsb

    I think you Itunes/Ipad connectivity issue is just your computer.  Maybe an update is needed?  I connect to my mac and Windows computer at work and have no issues at all.  Also, you know you can move apps wherever you want right?  🙂  You can take the browser out of the dock if it is easier for you.  And don’t forget, your Ipad is also a digital picture frame!  Click your power button to lock it, then hit the little flower icon and voila!  

    •  Didn’t know that about the flower thing. I know I can move the apps around, just couldn’t find it to start… 🙂 It’s a new install on my home PC – not much installed to conflict with it and all updates are done. Not really sure. I’ve never had much luck with iTunes, though.

      Thanks for the tip on the digital picture frame. That’s cool! 🙂

  • Bill Hyman

    (not ready for the commitment of a 4G plan yet). 
    iPad data plans are month to month, you can activate or cancel anytime you want for no fee.

    •  $100 more up front, and what? $30 a month for 5 GB? I guess I wouldn’t hit the 5 GB as most of what I do is via wi-fi anyway. No major downloads… I might exchange it for a 4G model… So, other than the $100 option up front, it doesn’t seem too bad. I’ll consider that. I didn’t know you didn’t have to sign up for a contract, but thinking about it it makes sense: no subsidy on the device, so no commitment needed (similar to phones).

      There are Verizon/AT&T specific models, though, right? I’d want to go with Verizon as they have much better coverage where I’m at, and I already have a plan with them for my phones.

      • Bill Hyman

        Yeah, separate Verizon and ATT models.
        I like having the capability because too many hotels charge out the ass for in room internets now. So I just activate it when I need to. 

        Also, it can help for resale. 

  • Bill Hyman

    As for your iTunes problems, have you tried syncing via WiFi. Works so much better than USB.

    •  I saw that as an option, but I haven’t tried doing it that way. I’ll give that a try. Thanks!