After using the iPad for two weeks, I decided to return the wifi model and order the 3g. I currently have a Verizon Mifi, and I strongly considered keeping the iPad wifi for a wifi + Mifi one-two punch. However, I ultimately decided the ipad 3g was a better fit for my needs. Here is a break down of the pro and cons of a Mifi + wifi iPad versus a 3g iPad:
Mifi plus iPad wifi:
Network diversity. Having internet access on a non-AT&T network gives me access at times when AT&T is congested, or when I am in areas with poor AT&T connectivity.
Connectivity for 5 devices. A Mifi lets 5 devices connect to the internet at the same time. One of the less known features of a Mifi is that it also works as a router. A Mifi can create a network between computers and even printers. You can share files, even print files, via a Mifi network.
Battery life. At best, a Mifi gives me a little over 3 hours of battery life. Considering the iPad’s all day battery. I do not want my internet connection to conk out before my connection device.
Two devices to carry and charge. Each day I use the Mifi, I have to remember to take it out of my case and charge it. If I do not, the next time I need to access the internet while away from the office, I risk facing an empty battery.
Expensive monthly charges. At $60 per month for 5gb, the Mifi is pricey (although comparably priced to other wireless modems). However, if I can connect to every service I need to via a 3g iPad (at present, only an aspirational goal), cutting my mobile internet charge to $15 to $25 per month would be a substantial savings.
Longer battery life. The Wifi iPad gave me all day battery life. I will test the battery life of the 3g iPad when it arrives. Currently, I expect at least 6 hours of connectivity.
Cheaper monthly charges. Since I have wifi both at the office and at home, I am going test out the lower tier internet service: $15 per month for 250mb. Apple states that you will get three warnings as you approach the bandwith cap. If 250mb is not enough, I may upgrade to the $30 unlimited connectivity plan.
Stuck with AT&T. Having one network for both my phone and iPad increases the chance of being without any network access as I travel around Colorado. When going to mountain towns, having a second carrier (whether Verizon or Sprint) can make the difference between getting online and having no connectivity.
No tethering. At present (and for the foreseeable future) there is no way to tether the iPad to other devices. This will likely change with jailbreaking and unauthorized applications. However, that adds an additional layer of complexity, the risk of service termination, and the risk of incompatibility with software.
Which iPad are you choosing and why? Tell me in the comments!
Engadget reports Microsoft has killed the courier project
At any given time, across any of our business groups, there are new ideas being investigated, tested, and incubated. It’s in Microsoft’s DNA to continually develop and incubate new technologies to foster productivity and creativity. The “Courier” project is an example of this type of effort and its technologies will be evaluated for use in future Microsoft offerings, but we have no plans to build such a device at this time.
I normally don’t bother with press announcements. However, this really burns my britches. For all the ink spilled venting about Apple not meeting fans expectations with the iPad announcement, at least Apple shipped a product! I have written before how Microsoft deserves a lot of credit for dreamingbig. Microsoft has amazing vision and I am grateful that they share these visions with us. However, time and time again, they fail to deliver.
Don’t get me wrong, while I current use mostly Apple products (both personally and professionally) Microsoft has brought a number of innovative products to market, including Media Center and Home Server. The Windows 7 Series Phone (what a mouthful) also looks to be an significant break from the iPhone UI hegemony.
Still, I can’t help but grieve the loss of the Courier.
The 30 day difference between the release of the wifi-only iPad and its 3G sibling gave me a chance for an interesting experiment. After two weeks, I packed up and returned the wifi iPad, pending the release of the 3g model. So, two weeks with an iPad; two weeks without. Would I find in iPad shaped hole in my life; or, would the reality distortion field surrounding Apple products wear off?
April 29th, is the two week point and here are my observations:
I feel disconnected. Even with a laptop and smartphone, the iPad is a better solution for keeping up to date with social networks. My twittering (which is a major marketing vector) has dropped, because it is easier to find and distribute articles via the iPad.
I am limited by battery life. I write and brainstorm from various locations: the kitchen table, sofa and easy chair — all places I do not have chargers to plug in. I hate seeing my battery meter go into the red in the middle of a writing session.
There’s portable, and then there’s portable. If the only places I worked were at a desk or table, the iPad would not be a big deal. These are the environments laptops and netbooks were made for. However, the unexpected interruptions of life tear me away from these ideal work areas. Using an iPad, I can keep working in more places.
To be sure, this is a matter of degree. Computers have been portable for more than 20 years. However, no one thinks the 10 pound behemoths of yesteryear are desirable computing experiences. While there are other portable choices available today, at 1.5 pounds with an all day battery, the iPad is more portable. And that makes it a more enjoyable device to use from the sofa. Plus the iPad is the first computer that I can reasonably prop on the magazine rack of an elliptical.
So, I will be picking up an iPad 3g tomorrow and testing how the 3g compares with the wifi version.
Without a doubt, the iPad is a device straight out of Star Trek. Just watching someone sitting holding this thin tablet, flicking pages, pinching and zooming images is exhilarating. You say to yourself, “Wow! I really am living in the future!”
The iPad an amazing toy that feeds the inner geek: surf the web, watch videos, play games, check your facebook status.
But, they’ll never let you buy it it you say you want to play games. Which brings us to…
Stage 2: “the iPad will revolutionize how we work!”
The potential uses of the iPad are simply amazing.
Picture presenting a meeting using the iPad as a display controller: zoom in with a pinch, change the perspective with a swipe, draw, highlight, add notes and arrows.
Now imagine the collaborative possibilities of the audience using their own iPads: annotating the presentation on their own screens; or, taking control of the presentation to review a section, ask questions, and annotate slides. And with the built in connectivity, your audience could be be across town or across the world.
Use the iPad to show exhibits, call outs, photographs, or videos.
Bring your treatises with you.
Carry your entire case, and every one of your cases, everywhere you go.
Show a witness their contract on an iPad. Then, zoom in on critical clauses or a signature.
Look it up to check a case cited by the opposing party. Does it really stand for the proposition cited. If it doesn’t, show the Judge right then and there.
Access your office network from anywhere. View your desktop from any location with an internet connection. Check statuses, delegate tasks, review and annotate new documents.
By now, the business manager is jumping up and down, and you are both chanting, “i-Pad, i-Pad” in every louder tones. Then you realize that he expects you to bring these pie-in-the-sky claims to fruition!
While all of the use cases described in Stage 2 are very likely to be developed over time, not all of them are available today.
Shared white board and meeting apps are just not there as of late April 2010.
While you can annotate pdf’s and images (iAnnotate PDF), and you can create and display Keynote presentations, there is no app which allows easy, on-the-fly, selection of documents with call outs and annotation to be displayed on a second monitor or projector.
Fortunately, taking your legal library is possible today. You can store .doc, .ppt, .xls, and .pdf files on your iPad either by emailing them to yourself or via apps like Readdle or Good Reader. These apps even integrate with cloud based storage like DropBox, iDisk, GoogleDocs and others. However, the integration is basic at this time. I am waiting for developers to use these services APIs to create applications which can natively and automatically read, write and synchronize content with cloud based servcies. Once that happens, the iPad can become a true window to all your web based data.
Legal research can be done right now with an iPad so long as the data can be accessed via the web. You can then, copy, paste and email that information.
Cloud based case management systems have always let access your data via the web including calendars, to-dos, and notes. As well as letting you changes and delegating tasks.
Stage 3: “the iPad is a better way to access your data”
The iPad is an amazing data access device. It is a great way to keep track of your calendar, contacts and to-dos. browse websites, check email, notes, documents, Evernote files, RSS feeds, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter. And it is a great device to share data. Unlike a laptop, the iPad lends itself to being handed to another person.
The iPad is a terrific thin client. Whether you use Windows or an Apple computer It is quick and easy to set up remote access of your desktop, either using Window’s Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) or a VNC server. You can access your systems either on the same network, or over the internet. This is great for administering computers, as well as checking pending jobs such as backup, anti-virus scans, rendering tasks, etc. It also provides a workaround to Apple’s limitations on multi-tasking. Since you are only using the iPad as a window onto another computer, you can do anything you could do if you were sitting at that computer. Desktop Connect is an iPad specific app supporting both RDP and VNC access. If you do not feel comfortable with the set up necessary, consider using the LogMeIn service along with their Ignition app.
The iPad is an all-day appliance. Unlike computers that need to be booted, or restored from sleep, the ipad is an instant-on device with battery lasts all day. You do not know how this changes your daily computing until you have it. Use it at the breakfast table. Use it on the sofa. Use it on the elliptical. Then, at the end of the day, plug it in. The iPad lets you take your office where it’s never gone before, and you don’t worry about plugging it in.
iPad protects your data:
As on an iPhone, you can select a pin code to deter unauthorized access.
You can also select the iPad to wipe all memory if an incorrect pin code is entered more than ten times.
If you use Apple’s Mobile Me service ($69 to $99/year) and your iPad is lost or stolen, you can get a map showing roughly where the device is.
If you misplace the iPad at home, you can have it play a tone to help you locate it.
You can send a message to the device (such as “please return to…”) which is displayed on the screen.
You can remotely lock the device.
If all else fails you can even remotely wipe the data on the iPad.
One of the failing points of the iPad (which is otherwise an amazing device), is the web browsing experience.
I typically do “back and forth” browsing: I am looking at the Social Security News (ok, in reality, it is probably Gizmodo or Mashable), selecting articles to open in tabs behind the browser.
On a computer this is no problem. I open a good dozen articles in tabs and then read them in turn. On an iPad though, this does not work.
I can not open articles in tabs behind the current window. While I can open article links in a new window, the selected article takes priority. Worse, when I select the originating (main) page from the page browser, the entire page reloads. In fact in my experience, the only time the iPad caches a page is if the user selects a new page and then opens a URL. So I might as well have just opened the link in the current window since I will still have to reload the originating page.
Reloading pages is still a fairly lengthy experience. Of course, this is when compared to using a computer which may be an unfair comparison. However, using the iPad is otherwise such an enjoyable experience that it is easy to think of it as a computer. Reading multiple pages though, sends you crashing back to earth.
Fortunately, this can be overcome.
RSS newsreaders redefine browsing on the iPad
Since RSS newsreaders do not have to download entire pages, they are FAST! Not only do I get a list of articles along with images, when I select an article, it pops up immediately. No more waiting for the page to load! I get the immediate gratification of being able to read the text of any article that catches my eye.
RSS readers also feed my techie A.D.D. Not only see the current article, I see what else I could be reading.
Of course, RSS readers are nothing new. However, I never found them particularly enjoyable. They are fine as a business tool to keep track of a large number of blogs, news stories, or search results to identify developments in my industry. But, they always felt like a tool. I may have to use Excel at work, but I am not going to relax with a spreadsheet in my off hours.
Offline iPad browsing with RSS readers
Refresh your newsfeed before leaving your wifi network and your articles are downloaded to your iPad and available for offline reading. There are some blogs that only provide excerpts rather than full text RSS feeds, which keep you reading the entire article if you are out of range of a wifi signal, but so far this has not been a problem with most of the sites I follow.
NewsRack ad NetNewsWire for iPad
I have used both NewsRack and NetNewsWire. Both provide nearly similar functionality and nearly identical interfaces. Additionally, both sync to Google Reader, so you can easily keep your feeds in sync and only see unread articles.
NewsRack seems to have a slight edge in terms of what you can do with articles including being able to share via Google Reader as well as sending the article to the following services
NetNewsWire seems somewhat dowdy in comparison: “only” allowing sending articles to email, twitter, and Instapaper. However, unless you specifically need one of the services NewsRack provides, NetNewsWire is an excellent choice. Also, since we are in the very early days of iPad apps, with updates flying fast and furious, I expect developers to quickly match features in competing products.
If you are feeling ham-strung by the limitations on the number of windows you can open in Safari on the iPad and slow page loads, give a RSS newsreader a try and get back to browsing at full speed.