Friday, December 23, 2011

Stuhlman and the iPad – Follow up

Many people wrote comments to concerns that I wrote in my Dec. 18th review of the iPad. I was not trying to make a comprehensive scientific study of the iPad. I was just delivering my opinion based on how I would use the device in my computing environment. I changed part of the text of the blog to reflect these comments. Today I received from Jacquie Henry these comments. (It is reprinted here with permission and edited for clarity)

I found this [guide book] after our recent conversation on your blog about iPads. An iPad certainly is a different animal than a desktop or a laptop -- PC OR Mac. This [guide] helped me find some of the annoying "missing" elements. It is not free, and it should be since the user has already paid plenty for the iPad. The tips I got from it were worth the price.

I am most puzzled by the problems you have experienced with the touch screen. Mine never has a blip. I wonder if an Apple technician should have a look to see if there is a flaw.

Check out this application on the App Store: Tips &  Tricks - iPad Secrets (iOS 5 Edition)

I acknowledge that the iPad is a different class than desktop of laptop computers. The iPad is a limited function machine compared to the general function machines. As a limited function machine, it cuts corners for size and function. It is an addicting machine, but not a replacement for a full service computer. The screen image is breath taking compared to the much bigger LCD and CRT screens attached to my desktop computers. The touch screen has its strengths and limitations. The instant on feature is a great time and aggravation saver.

Apple claims the battery life is 10 hours, but I did not test this.
The iPad price starts at $499, which is more than similar machines from other companies with other operating systems. Apple wants you to spend another $30 or $70 for a protective cover. Even with the cover carrying positions of the iPad are limited. One may also purchase a blue-tooth keyboard.

Unless one has a grip larger than 7.5 inches you can not hold the iPad without the support of your write or arm. I can grip the iPad because I have a larger than normal (9 inch) grip. This feature makes the device hard to carry from room to room with one hand. I wonder how resistant to dropping, falling or heavy use Apple has designed the iPad.

This is illustrated by the following two pictures. In the picture on the left my fingers are at the top and bottom. My son who has a smaller grip can not hold the iPad in one hand. He owns a larger netbook and if he walks around the house with it while in use he uses two hands.

Jacquie probably has smaller and more delicate fingers than I do. This probably explains why she has never had problems with the tactile response of the iPad screen. Also the correct touch zones for web pages or programs vary. My email web client has a very small area for a touch to open a message.

Every machine has a learning curve. I help people with software all the time. I have more than 35 years experience using computers. I should not have to use trial and error to find all the answers concerning everyday use of a new device. Part of learning is figuring out not only the right question, but knowing that a question should be asked. I was trying to attend a class via WebEx. The tech people for the class had no idea that the iPad wouldn’t connect. WebEx did not give any helpful error messages. I knew that Apple does not allow Adobe Flash 10 to work on the iPad. I knew that WebEx required Adobe Flash. What no one told me until a week later was that WebEx has an app that allows the iPad to work with WebEx sessions. While this is not entirely an Apple problem, I do find a problem with a system that does not even tell you an error message so that you can ask the right questions to solve the problem.

Playing with the iPad taught me what I really wanted in a small portable computer. It should be a device that I can carry when traveling or commuting, allow me to check e-mail, let me check the library catalog or databases, do research on the Web, and act a portable entertainment device. It should easily connect to my other devices and share files. I ordered an Android based computer that includes Wi-Fi connectivity, a keyboard, USB ports, memory card port, an ethernet port, and other connection options. The cost including shipping, a detachable camera and extra memory cost less than $100. I will review it in about a month.

1 comment:

Joe Pallas said...

I agree that you should not have to use trial and error to learn a new device. But your remark about the headphone jack strongly suggests that you did not look very closely at Chapter 1 of the iPad user guide. (Likewise for the rotation lock.)

I doubt anyone intended the iPad to be held the way you show. “Ow.” For carrying from room to room, I find thumb in front and palm in back works fine. It just isn’t comfortable for prolonged periods. But, again, this will be a property of any tablet this size, and if you have “fat fingers” you probably don’t want a smaller tablet.

If your web email client has not been tuned to run on a touch-screen tablet, then it is unlikely that any tablet will work well with it. The native email client may be a better choice, although it has some flaws.

The iPad is far from perfect, in many cases “uncompromising” in both the positive and negative senses. It will be interesting to hear what you think of the tradeoffs made by other products.