Sunday, December 2, 2012

Stuhlman and the iPad – 2012 Follow up

Tablet or not to tablet is not the issue.  The issue is how to we want to receive or deliver content.  In December of 2011 I had a chance to use an Apple iPad and wrote two blog articles about how I felt about the computer.  This weekend I had the opportunity to try an iPad 4 with 32 GB of memory.

Some of the issues that I had last year disappeared when some readers guided me and I had a chance to experiment with the machine.  I am still disappointed with the lack of included documentation.  Sure many of the features are simple and intuitive, but why should I have to experiment with every feature/  Why should I have to guess what the settings mean and the result of one choice or another?  For example I wanted to see it I could type in Hebrew.  In the settings I tried "General"  In the first screen there are 10 choices; none were were for other languages and there is no clue that other choices exist.  Since I know this is the game Apple plays, I scrolled to find 7 more choices.  I selected "International" then "Keyboards."  Under "Keyboards" I added another keyboard from the choices that included several versions of English and several non-Latin alphabets.  Chinese, Japanese and Korean are included.  I choose to add Hebrew and German keyboards.  It was easy only if one knows what to look for.  Returning to my e-mail program to type a message I found the keyboard had an icon shaped like a globe.  Tapping this icon allows easy switching between keyboards and languages.  The iPad has voice recognition software for dictating an e-mail  Some of the results are great, but the lack of a non-destructive backspace makes editing tedious.   Voice recognition worked with German, but had more errors than English.  

Security is very tight on this machine.  One has to enter the Apple ID and/or password for  installing any app and for Facetime.  Every time I wanted to read an issue of Time Magazine, which I own a subscription, I had to enter an ID multiple times.  It was hard to tell if I made a typo or the system was having problems.

I still have questions as to whether a tablet computer of any kind is a tool or a toy.  If I wanted to walk around the library or campus and access the library catalog or databases, it would be a powerful tool.  If I wanted to make a presentation to show on a larger monitor or projector, it would be useless because there is no way to plug in another device.(However, I read that Apple iOS has the ability with a program AirPlay to transmit a signal to other devices.I did not see this option on my device.) I have seen lots of people use the iPad to take notes at a meeting.  I used it to take notes and check my e-mail during a meeting, however, that does not convince me this is more than a toy.  Some companies even market tablets for their ability to play games, view videos, read books, and other diversionary activities.

I can view video from Internet sources, but not from any plugin device.  The pictures are stunning and very clear.  When I read a magazine with pictures or see a video, it is almost like being there.  However, several video sources, such as Hulu and CBS) that I can get for free on my desktop PC are not available on mobile devices.   

Apple does seem to create an emotional connection to its users.  People stand in line to buy their new products and people feel good while using their products.  For me Apple products are over priced, over hyped, and still in search or a sweet point for serious use in the library, academia, or business..



Joe Pallas said...

You can connect the iPad 4 to most external projectors using the Lightning to VGA adapter, or the Lightning Digital AV adaptor if you have an HDMI-capable external display like an HDTV.

You didn't really just dismiss reading books as a "diversionary activity," did you? Not everybody is reading 50 Shades of Gray; some people use ebook readers for work-related information.

Daniel D. Stuhlman said...

Stuhlman: I saw that option for external projectors. It costs a lot of money for only a small benefit.

Pallas: I agree that the price is excessive. But you wrote, “there is no way to plug in another device,” not “You have to buy an expensive adapter to plug in another device.” So, I (like other readers, I suspect) didn’t realize you knew the option was available.

You didn't really just dismiss reading books as a "diversionary activity," did you? Not everybody is reading for fun.

Stuhlman: If you look at the ads for tablets and netbooks, the companies try to push the fun part of using the machines. They push recreational use such as movies and light reading. Of course one could read academic books on line. My library has 1,000's In my research I use both electronic and paper books. In a class presentation I even held up a paperback next to the same book on the screen to show readers can choose what is best for them.

Pallas: I just couldn’t resist teasing you on that one: “Librarian dismisses reading.”

Yes, tablets are mostly marketed for recreational activities, but that doesn’t stop many people from using them for real work. The marketing goes where the dollars lead. Many people didn’t expect the tablet to be so popular for games, as an example, but the market proved otherwise. And their popularity in the corporate environment also took many by surprise, although one could say the iPhone predicted that.

Stuhlman: The man-machine connection is one of feeling and emotion about the experience. It is not always logical.

Pallas: That is surely true, and some people say that was the essence of Steve Jobs’s genius. I use my iPad mostly for reading mail, news articles, some journal articles and books, and watching some old TV shows. I never fell in love with it, but I do find it quite handy when I would not bother to pull out the laptop.

(Joe Pallas and Daniel Stuhlman are cousins.)