My iPad 2 arrives in Hong Kong

iPad 2 arrived today in Hong Kong. Well mine at least… [caption id="attachment_3334" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Someone's little hands are already trying to take my new toy."][/caption] My mom bought it in her hometown in South Carolina. She went to a Best Buy about three hours after it went on sale. I pressed her and pressed her to go earlier but she replied “the people in this podunk town are too poor to buy anything”. Guess what? she was right. She walked into the store, back to the iPad section, and was second in line behind a guy who walked in just before her. The clerks told her earlier they had a long line, but she timed it just right to get there when no one was around. Fast forward a week and a few and it has arrived in Hong Kong. The post office made me go fetch and now I’m back starting the rather time consuming task of moving over all my stuff to the new device. First quandary was how to set it up–either as a “new iPad” or “restore from the backup of the old one”. I wasn’t quite sure so I went with the restore option, though in retrospect (i.e. the 20 minutes it took to do the restore) I discovered I could probably do it either way, syncing the apps and whatnot later on. First impressions is that it’s quite a bit thinner than the older one. The ‘scuba suit’ cover that was on the older version folds back and makes the entire iPad 1 look quite a bit ‘fatter’ than it really is. I’m still impressed when I see one of the originals without a cover (which is rare) as it looks so much smaller than mine which is wrapped in the Apple black latex. I got the ‘smart’ cover (black leather) that I’ll be setting up as soon as the sync is done (god it takes awhile). The new screen, sans fingerprint smudges and cracker crumbs and whatever else a year of use has puts on it, looks gorgeous. Of course it is basically the same as the old one, but it’s clean. I’m not going to sell the old one. While that’s normally my standard procedure as I’ve sold every iPhone I’ve ever owned right after buying a new one, this iPad had the secondary market take a hit with Apple’s price reduction, and we actually have a need for it in the house. The wife can’t use my computer usually as this room is too tiny, but she needs access to her email and celebrity gossip sites so iPad 1 becomes “hers” along with one of the boys, and iPad 2 is mine with the other kid. So, let’s see…time to start the sync…and… Apps transferring…(giving kids a bath) Now to the music…(made a sandwich) Now the pictures…(browsing the Internet) and a bunch of other stuff for about an hour and a half now…. We’re done. Some hints for your first install: Do a backup of your existing iPad before you start this process. Nuke any podcasts / videos / songs you don’t want to sync (saves time) I sync’d 2000 photos faster than 1,100 songs, fwiw Consider doing your first sync overnight when you don’t have to sit and watch the slow process. Ok, now to play with it. The magnetic screen cover works as advertised. Open it and it comes on, close it and close it and it shuts down. I’ve already noticed that I’m still hitting the power button to turn things off rather than just close the screen. Old habits will take a bit to slow down. The home screen now has two new icons. One is Photobooth, which you can use if you are feeling like self portraits with the rather grainy camera. The other is Facetime, which I’ve yet to check out. I showed the wife and let her hold both of them. “The new one is heavier” she wrongly observed (iPad 2 is .2lbs lighter). It definitely is thinner. You can feel that holding it. It also feels ‘faster’. Some apps like Flipboard were really loading quite quickly, and I look forward to playing Infinity Blade later today. But now for the most important test: how much gloating can I do with this? I’ll be heading over to a few of my haunts today to be “that guy” who has the newest toy. Feel free to call me a jerk later if you see me.]]>

iPad v. Kindle v. Nook

I sent out an email the other day about the very important piece that ran in Engadget following the iPad 2 launch. This article really recognized the seminal shift that is underway in technology as it relates to tablets, and correctly identified that the new arguments for which machine to buy or not buy will be based not so much on silly specifications but on overall user experience. I sent this to some friends and one replied asking about whether to buy an iPad or a Kindle for their kid. Because I was up in the middle of the night I actually took some time to write a pretty detailed response. Hi, I was thinking of a line from the movie Contact earlier today for some reason, and now that I see your email I guess I must be psychic. In the film, Jodie Foster is basically an astronaut put into a space ship to travel through time and space and hang with some aliens. She’s handed a cyanide pill and her boss states: “There are a thousand reasons we can think of why you should have this thing with you, but mostly it’s for the reasons we can’t think of” The same is true of the iPad. No it won’t cause you to kill yourself, but the usage of the iPad is something that is being governed by the things you cannot think of just yet, not the ones you already understand. Buying an e-reader would be great for your son. It’s an awesome problem to have that he is consuming too many books, and the e-reader would certainly save some money in the long run and on trips to the library. But everything an e-reader can do an iPad can do better. You can read the ‘epub’ digital books that you download from the store, but you can also read PDF files “like a book” or a magazine, swiping from page to page as you go. And that is just the beginning. We bought “Green Eggs and Ham” for the iPad. I hemmed and hawed for awhile saying “why buy a $5 book online when I can get it cheaper somewhere else in paper”. But then I did it and wow was I wrong. Seeing the book on the iPad was a world of difference than just “reading” a book. First the ‘app’ will read to you. It has a voice over that goes through the book and reads the story to the kids. They can then use their finger and touch each and every word and the narrator pronounces it for them: “Ham!” “Green Eggs” “Sam I am”. Or the kids can click on the pictures items in the book and the narrator announces them: “Car, Train, Boat” whenever they click. And the apps go into an amazing world from there. Our youngest has an app that shows him each letter with “–” dashes so he can run his finger along them and draw the letters himself. He has another app that is basically a coloring book, letting him free draw ‘outside the lines’ with digital crayons or dump into pre-laid out shapes bulk colors. Youtube movies are also a favorite, allowing their insatiable hunger for Japanese Bullet Trains to be fed daily (seriously–you can show the oldest a photo of any Japanese bullet train and he spews out the name and model number–“Nozomi 500!” “Shinkasen E5!”). We have never purchased a children’s DVD or video in our life, and probably never will. There simply is no need. He also is playing with a visual periodic table of elements, though generally he just likes the large letters. “H! C! Au!” There are also math apps that drill the kids in numbers, and astronomy programs to learn the stars. It is making huge inroads amongst educators who are reporting that the iPad is really getting to a number of kids in ways books never could. (Watch the Video here) Unfortunately, as you pointed out, you are talking a $139 vs. $399 price difference between Kindle and an iPad (they dropped the price on the existing iPad last week to $399). Basically you are talking two Kindles for the price of one iPad. I think one thing you should factor is your wife’s technology usage patterns. Mine simply no longer has time for a computer, nor do we even have space for her to have a computer in this tiny place. My iPad has become her computer for email, occasional web browsing, etc. She takes it to bed with the kids some nights and catches up on her digital life while lying in bed, etc. I’ve more than paid for the iPad with magazines. Here in Hong Kong a single issue of Wired costs $10 US imported. I buy or obtain copies of digital magazines for a fraction of the paper cost. I have literally saved hundreds of dollars on magazine purchases alone over the last 12 months. So for now you might want to save the money and consider the Kindle, especially since 3/4 of the child users in the house you have now might not be as ‘delicate’ in protecting something they probably regard as little more than a remote control (and I’m sure you have stories of how the remote flies around the house). But I also think that in the next five years, you’ll be buying a tablet for your kids that is far more capable. There will likely be no pure e-readers left on the market in the next few years. Anyway, long answer to a short question.]]>

Why Android v. Apple isn't like Microsoft vs. Apple

I was up in Sham Shui Po today, looking to buy an Android tablet.  The reason I didn’t buy one was kind of interesting.

Sham Shui Po is basically Shenzhen’s outlet in Hong Kong.  The Golden Computer arcade is a collection of “China Generic” computers and parts, and you can pick up pretty much anything technically related from the iPad down to things like cables, iPhone cases, and other tiny computer parts (what we referred to as the “pocket lint of the tech industry”).  In the street markets around there you have dead ducks hanging from a hook next to a hook full of HDMI cables.  It’s pretty wild.
I’m not really in the market for another tablet, but if I saw one I liked I was ready to shell out to buy an Android tablet primarily for some projects I’m working on.  But I’d have to see the right one before I’d buy as I wasn’t out to just get any Android tablet–I wanted the best I could buy (and one that I could eventually run Honeycomb on safely).  So what did I see?

There were dozens, and not a single one was even remotely worth buying, let alone being an iPad killer.  They were brands I had barely heard of, and, of course, the dozens of China generics still selling themselves based solely on the ‘specs’ of the hardware rather than the overall experience.  In the end I just couldn’t justify buying one of these things that would likely become a coaster in the next few months when something better came along.

I keep hearing that Android will due to the iPad/iPhone (iOS) what Microsoft did to Apple.

Do you really think so?

People tend to forget that Microsoft did not succeed because there were dozens of computer makers pushing it.  There were several competing OS standards back during that time all of which could have become “the standard” if they had the ace up their sleeve.  IBM.  Microsoft got their biggest boost because IBM was using it.

At the time, IBM was the be all, end all of computers.  No one would go wrong buying an IBM system and when they introduced their PC it was by far the market leader in the enterprise purchases. Commodore and Compaq and HP and Dell and all the assorted others were but a mere sideshow to the big boy on the block that was giving Microsoft cachet into the tech industry.  Within 3 years, IBM PCs were nearly 50% of the computer industry, and their use of the Microsoft OS went along for the ride.  It wasn’t necessarily Windows that beat Apple, it was the IBM-compatible that beat Apple back then.

So who is Android’s IBM?  What company out there today making Android tablets is the “big boy”–the flagship for the fleet of Android tablets that are going to be coming out?  Is there any hardware company that could possibly get to 50% of the tablet market share?  Nokia? (nope).  Dell?  Wait and see.  HP? Samsung?  Anyone?  Bueller?

Who is the 800 lb gorilla in the room this time?  Apple, to be honest.

What would have happened in the early 1980s if IBM had launched the IBM PC with their own (licensable) operating system?  If IBM was selling machines with an OS that they were licensing to clone manufacturers, do you really think Microsoft would have stood a chance?  They would have just been some company that made a few BASIC games and then went poof.

Apple, of course, is not licensing out there iOS behind the tablet, and this may prove problematic one day, but Android is not being used by any company that is a “MUST HAVE” in the technology industry either.  There is no IBM tablet on the horizon, and the best of the best of the best that you see today (Samsungs, HP) are being dwarfed, by an order of magnitude, by sales of new iPads and holdouts waiting for iPad2.

So next time you hear tale of Apple’s demise due to the power of Android don’t necessarily think history is about to repeat itself again.

Downloading FIFA 11 for the iPad

FIFA ’11 onto the iPad. FIFA ’96 was a hidden joy I discovered back in law school and now the fact I can start playing again is pretty exciting (I gave up the Playstation when the kids were born). Take a look at the trailer. Note that they don’t even both showing Spurs on the trailer. That would make people not buy the game if they knew they were going to lose everytime. ]]>

Macbook Air vs. iPad? Which should you buy?

With the arrival of the Mac Book Air, a debate has arisen amongst my geeky friends, and some more serious questions have likely emerged by potential purchasers of those two machines.

First the silly question:  Which is cooler?  Geeks always go for the new new thing, and the Mac Book Air is an incredibly beautiful device, but is, after all, still a laptop (which is very old school).  The iPad, also an incredibly cool device, is now a geek trend age of 7 months, which is pushing it a bit, and there are rumors of a new iPad sometime next Spring.  So if you are trying to decide which machine you should by to impress the crowds, I’m afraid I don’t have an answer–they are both pretty impressive.  The iPad can be used on a subway train to wow non-geeks, so maybe that’s point extra in the iPads favor.
But now for the more serious question:  Do I need a laptop or can I get by with an iPad?
Really it comes down to your Internet usage patterns:  Creation vs. Consumption.
The iPad is a great consumption device. Checking emails, reading books and magazines, surfing the web and Facebook. Add watching videos and Youtube and even listening to music. The iPad is simply amazing for these functions. Some of the apps are an experience in their own right.  I’ve spent way too much time on some apps and my kids are addicted to some as well (Dr. Seuss is a nightly ritual it seems).
You can do some creative stuff on an iPad, but it’s not easy given the keyboard issues.  The keyboard is not necessarily small but there are definitely problems in typing certain words (the ‘ mark for example is not as easy as on a full keyboard, nor are other common punctuation marks).  The lack of a tactile feel on a keyboard is difficult for some to master, and the spell checker becomes really an essential function as it guesses what you should have been typing had you been pounding the keys.  My accuracy rate for typing is say 99% on a real keyboard and probably 90% on the iPad.  In more simple terms, I’ve never typed more than two paragraphs on an iPad without having a spelling error.  This can be eased by carrying around Apples sexy bluetooth keyboard, but that’s another device that you have to schlep with you.
But if you are more into creating stuff, such as writing multi-paragraph emails or a spreadsheet or a word document, or editing some photos and emailing them to friends, than you really want a tactile keyboard and something with a little more power like a laptop or desktop.  The Mac Book Air is powerful enough for most events that the average computer user would endure.  I would probably recommend an external disk drive or a home server in conjunction with the Mac Book Air for storage of photos, docs and other items that will quickly tax the relatively small storage capabilities of the MBA.  I also would be hesitant about an MBA if I was editing videos, primarily because I want the most powerful machine I can find to handle that relatively complex task.
I have a desktop I use for most of my creation (and a laptop as well for when I’m away from my home and need to do something major). I have the iPad for most other things. If it is an either or thing with you–either a laptop OR an iPad (and no other computer in the house) than you probably would want the increased functionality of a full computer/laptop. If this is a second device in your house, say you already have a PC in the house and this is a second machine, than the iPad would be a great option.
I only recommend the iPad as an “only” machine if you are an extremely limited net user, just checking email, browsing the web, etc. We bought one for my mother-in-law just for this purpose–so she could see pics from the kids without having to boot up a bit complicated computer.
Since I got my iPad, I haven’t used my laptop at all. It’s sitting here collecting dust waiting for that time when I need to do something more powerful away from my desk. I do carry my laptop to some business meetings but generally I use it around the house for entertainment purposes. It’s great in bed for reading a book without disturbing the other person or even for watching a movie when someone is sleeping.
So in the end, how do you plan on using whatever you want to buy? Answer that question and you’ll know which machine to pick.
FWIW, if I had the need for a traveling desktop (i.e. I had a job that put me on a plane for extended periods of time, I would probably buy the MBA for those events.  But right now, with little travel > 3 days long, I just can’t justify it with the desktop and iPad at home).

Setting up my iPad

(scroll down for updates) 10:00 am — I was number 8 in the store and about number 1 to come out.  I then spent about 5 minutes taunting others in line who didn’t have an iPad just yet and then drove home at a relatively reasonable rate of speed to plug in the new new shiny thing. Apple Store Annapolis had an “all hands on deck” day.  There were literally 50+ employees that came streaming out the door at 9:00 clapping, high-fiving, and singing the Steve Jobs chants (joking about that last bit). First impressions of the iPad?  It feels a bit smaller than I thought.  I was expecting something about the size of a magazine but it’s more like the size of a hardcover book.  It’s not as heavy as I had thought, but might be a little tricky for my boys to play with as they are not that big. The iPad comes with a power adapter (like the iPhone’s little two-prong thingy) that connects to a USB cable.  There are NO headphones included, so you’ll have to make due with some of the others you might have lying around. It does work with my existing iPhone USB cable, which means I don’t have to unpack the other one from the iPad box nor go under my desk and set up something new, which is nice.   However, while in the sync mode I noticed it said “Not Charging” so I’m not sure if that is because of the sync process or whether it is a cable thing. (update:  the iPad cable does charge, so maybe it is a cable thing).  iPad comes fully charged btw.   Will check that out after the sync.  I purchased the official iPad case (it looks pretty slim) and the stand (not the keyboard stand, but the regular stand).  I’m planning to use the Bluetooth keyboard with this so I don’t need to be ‘docked’ into the thing physically.  I thought about passing on the stand (I may return it) as the case folds over and can hold up the machine, but only in the horizontal mode, not vertically.  Not sure how that will work when typing / working. When I plugged the iPad into the computer, iTunes booted up.  There were a few screens of setup and then it gave me a rather odd option:  “An iPad has been previously synced with this computer.”  Well, no, it hasn’t.  But apparently it saw my iPhone backups and was debating whether to rebuild from the old iPhone backups or whether or not to set up a “New iPad”.  As new iPad was defaulted, I went with that rather than the option “Restore from the backup of” my iPhone. 10:15 — The next screen was the start of the sync process.  Which is taking a few minutes so far.  I’m moving probably 32gb of data (apps and pics and videos) over to the iPad so I’m kind of in the middle of that adventure.  Note:  it seems to be syncing all the applications on my iTunes, not necessarily the ones I sync to my iPhone (I have a limited subset that I put on the phone). 10:25 — As it is the first sync, it ended up taking about 10 minutes for just the Applications (I have about 150 apps I think).  Now it is starting about 900 songs and podcasts.  Maybe time to get some donuts. 10:28 — The next step is “Optimizing photos” for the iPad.  As I have 36000 photos, I have a really bad feeling about this.  It’s at 218 of 36,038.  This could be a bit time consuming. 10:29 — 380 of 36,038. 10:30–I click the stop button as I’m not waiting for this many pictures. NOTE:  By default, it seems the iPad is set to sync “All photos, albums, events and faces”.  Unselect that to save some time. 10:32 — Resync’ing, this time with only 1,624 photos syncing. 10:37 — 1294 of 1624. 10:38–1,624 of 1,624 photos optimized.  Now waiting for them to sync. Now updating podcasts, files, etc. 10:40–114 of 931 audio / video podcasts.  I listen to too many podcasts. 10:47 — 200 of 931.  This could be another hour.  Back to the magic stop button. 10:48.  Have deselected sync’ing all movies and podcasts.  Will get to that later.  Taking way too long. 10:50 Now syncing songs.  Going much faster just song.  70 of 660. 10:52–319 of 660.  Sigh.  Delayed gratification is supposed to be more enjoyable.  We’ll see about that. 10:55.  Finished all the music.  Not it is doing the photos (drastically reduced numbers of photos). 10:59.  The sync is done.  Time to disconnect and start playing!!!!!!!!!!!! 11:09.  Ok, it synced everything but the personal stuff like email, etc.  Back to itunes…]]>