Monday, December 10, 2012

Stuhlman and the iPad – 2012 Follow up – 2

Since last week’s article on the iPad I had an opportunity to attend a class given by Apple on using the iPad in the education market. While most of the consumer marketing for the iPad is aimed a making the iPad a fun computer, the educational uses for the machine are huge and generally not reported in the general or computer media. During the class we learned about many kinds of applications including, productivity (ex. KeyPoint and word processing), media (ex. Electronic books and periodicals), educational games (such as exercises and learning activities) and communications (such as e-mail, web browser, and Web-Ex)

Educational uses in the classroom from elementary school to the college include educational games and text books.  Text books could be interactive and include audio, video and Internet connections. 

There are some great  uses for the iPad.  I love reading e-mail and using other programs that only require a hand gesture or taps to navigate. This is much easier that using a mouse and a click. However, typing and sending e-mail is harder than typing on a full sized keyboard.

No machine is perfect. The reason Apple or any other company has multiple machines is that people have differing needs. Many desktop computers are made to be multipurpose machines. Portable machines from the earliest Compaq luggables to the smallest handheld computers of today, computer makers have to compromise on something. Sometimes the compromises are tradeoffs made to save space or costs. Sometimes the smaller size means the computer costs more than a similar desktop. That means the consumer has to decide what they want to live with when purchasing a machine. Computer makers decide if they offer more features, ports and buttons and hope to encourage sales or save money? Use an expensive material to make the machine more rugged or a less expensive alternative? Sometimes a company will add extras such as multiple USB ports, an Ethernet connection, or HDMI ports in hope that the consumer will be encouraged to buy their machine. I can not fault a computer for leaving out those ports, but it does make a less attractive package. I also have no idea how much adding a USB port increasing the cost. I do wonder why a $300 machine has the extra ports and the $400 or $500 Apple is missing them. Why is the Apple power cord a mere 40” in length when my mouse cord and headphone cords have much longer and convenient cord lengths? Since at retail a one meter USB cable costs less than $0.74 from a Chinese supplier, Apple should be able to double the cable length for less than 50 cents.

Consumers like to get extras. Extras help convince them to spend money and feel like they are getting a bargain. Netbooks and laptops frequently offer VGA, HDMI, USB, and Ethernet ports as well as card readers and sometime optical drives. If an iPad owner wanted to connect the iPad to an external monitor or projector there’s Apple TV, a $100 black box. The other computers come with that connectivity. Ok, I’m probably comparing unequals. Laptop computers may cost as little as  $200 to more than $1200. The $1200 computer is not in the same league as the iPad. The Samsung Galaxy, an Android operating system tablet, is in the same price range as the iPad and it has a memory card slot and one USB port. They weigh about the same. They are going to compete on the operating system features, screen size, look and feel, applications, and how well the make the consumer feel about the purchase.

In an article published online last month, “iPad Mini Reality Check: 10 Reasons to Not Buy This Tablet” Don Reisinger [fn 1] gives his reasons for not buying the iPad Mini. He could have used similar arguments to not buy any limited function machine. He did not say that the machine is poorly made or the customer service was poor. He didn’t say purchasers would regret wasting their money. I agree that for the features Apple products are overpriced and have too many proprietary connectors and features. I feel uneasy using an operating system that only runs on one company’s machines. It is as if there are no checks and balances with company specific systems and hardware. Apple’s iStore which requires Apple’s approval for applications is both a good and bad point. While approval insures the products will work, I have no idea if creativity is limited to the kinds of products that Apply wants the market to sell.

Reading e-books on the iPad is easy both as a procedure to find the book and for the eye to view. The Retina display is stunning.
The illustrations above are screen shots of books. I had to search the Internet for instructions to make the shots. The instruction book on the iPad that I downloaded for free does give instructions for saving screen shots, which is a built-in feature, but they misspelled “screen shot” making the search fail.

The bottom line is – if someone would give me an iPad to use, I would use it. If I had to buy a portable computer I would weigh the options and features that I want and need in a machine. However, I would probably buy a non-Apple product if I had to spend my own money.

Dec. 16, 2012  -->  I just discovered a serious flaw with the iPad.  I have some video files on my PC.  I wanted to transfer them to the iPad.  I can't just plug in the iPad to a USB port and copy.  The only ways to transfer the files involve uploading the files to cloud service or use a wi-fi transfer utility.  Those processes would take several hours.  With my Android based under $70 machine all I have to do is plug in the thumb drive and start viewing.  I don't even need to copy them to the computer.

1. Reisinger, Don. “iPad Mini Reality Check: 10 Reasons to Not Buy This Tablet” Posted in eWeek Nov. 15, 2012 Retrieved on Dec. 10, 2012.

1 comment:

busu said...

Just in case someone has given you an iPad to use... Here is a stunning, luminous picture book created on a backlit illustrator's tablet specifically for the retina display. Princess Ramona, Beloved of Beasts: Direct Link: 

Students seem to enjoy zooming in on all the details, looking at the critters and searching for the elusive, hidden dragons in the backgrounds. It is also a read-aloud so it helps students track as the words light up when they are spoken. A embedded dictionary allows look-up of challenging vocab words.