Friday, April 9, 2010

A Week, no Month! With My Big Ass iPod

It's Friday, which makes it one week since I became a big ass iPod user. I wanted to wait a few days to let the newness wear off so I could make some honest statements about what works great and what doesn't.

***Update*** OK, well it’s no longer Friday and its no longer April. It’s been a MONTH now. How the heck did I live without this thing? I really love this device, but now it’s weaknesses -- Printing STILL sucks, no webcam, fairly weak image editing tools -- are starting to become a bit more grating. At least the image editing is improving quickly. Photo Pad is a great program for cropping and playing with photos + it’s free. (yay!) Printing still sucks without a base system around to use as a print server (boo!). Gaming is downright great - and still draws a crowd. All in all a GREAT device, one of those things you never knew you could not live without until you had one. Just a few tweaks tho.... and it would be SOOO.... MUCH...... BETTER.....

I will also update this from time to time to cover changes and make corrections.

Basically I am thrilled with the device. It truly is an excellent "in between" product that is small enough to take places you may not want to take your laptop, but powerful enough to get some work done. I take it pretty much everywhere with me and find that my poor overworked MacBook pro can finally get a break from the constant abuse I have given it over the last couple years. Feel free to skip any paragraph you don't feel like reading, there is very little overlap between them. Again, this is a WIP.


Apple's construction is very good as usual. The iPad feels solid but is pretty light. I have heard complaints from folks online that it is difficult to hold with one hand. I have no such complaint, but then again I have big 'ol meathooks for hands and spent a few years in a gearbox factory before getting into I.T., so your mileage may well vary. I have connected to several wireless hotspots and have found generally good connectivity, but a couple of them did have the dropping problem I have heard about. in each case the wireless icon would show a very weak connection. Sometimes the connection would drop. Testing the some router with other wireless devices showed no connection problems whatsoever. In each case the problem was corrected by disabling and re-enabling the ipad's wireless system from the settings manager. This is mildly annoying ... The early white MacBooks had this same behavior which was cleared up by an update, really Apple - How did this problem make it into production? The screen is beautiful and bright. I have heard it referred to as smudge resistant, but I would call it smudge-loving. I bought a screen protecting film and recommend everyone do the same. As a side note, spend the extra money and buy a decent screen protector: The cheap Chinese ones on eBay look like crap. I tested 2 of them and the both were thick and bubbly, they also caught every single bit of lint and dust and magnified them the annoyingly huge levels. They also smudge FAR WORSE than even the unprotected iPad screen. I recommend Zagg's Invisible Shield: It looks great and is tough as nails. Just make sure to follow the directions COMPLETELY or it will make you miserable.

As far as carrying bags, avoid the Apple store and Best Buy as they are WAY overpriced. Both eBay and Amazon have better bags at half the price. I just picked up a new army messenger bag on eBay for 11 bucks delivered. Will update to let you know how that works out.

Why Apple did not include a webcam is beyond me. Stev-o just didn't think it was that important... Hundreds of thousands of people beg to differ Steve. Bad Apple. That said, I used my webcam all of 3 times on my MacBook. Not a big deal for me but a crappy misstep none the less.


Not bad. I actually prefer typing on the iPad to any of the number of net books I have had. It makes a clicky sound so you feel better about typing on a flat surface. I have not had the constant typo's that I get from the ipod touch, probably due to the bigger screen. I'm pretty sure that I can type at full speed. Not bad. Applications seem to move punctuation keys arbitrarily, and it's driving me insane. Or maybe I'm insane already and the keys are not moving at all. Best move on... I hate the spell checker, it makes me want to kill. It keeps correcting words when I purposely wish to misspell them. Annoying.

File Sharing.

Sucks. Pick up a third party file handling utility. I use GoodReader. It costs a buck and works pretty darn well.

I don't agree with all the whining about not having USB connecters. they would be thicker than the iPad and make it more bulky. This is one of those times where I think some people just don't "get it". When I need to share files I either use GoodReader to send them to a more accessible location or I email them. Not a big deal.


I thought that having no flash would be a bigger deal than it is. Facebook is certainly much faster to load. No flash also means my wife won't be stealing the iPad to go play Farmville. Yay.

Safari is amazingly quick and responsive, I really prefer browsing with the iPad to using my laptop. Every once in a while though, something important and flashy is missing.... And I curse Steve Job's turtle-necked butt for being such an arrogant ass. Fortunately 99% of the time no Flash is a good thing. Unfortunately I will NOT be winning any more free iPod Nanos. Shame.


I like the app. I like the fact that I can read in the dark. Page turning feels natural. I can get many of the books at Half Price Books for Ummm.... Half the price. Bummer. I hear there are some free books other than Winnie the Pooh out there. I will have to look them up. Honorable Mention: I do like that I can preview a pretty substantial portion of most of the books before buying. I just wish that the buying was cheaper.

Business Apps:

Pages is an adequate for basic word processing tasks. It has a spartan interface that works well with the iPad: Its closer to Microsoft Works word processor than it is to Word. I generally create a very basic document in it then do the formatting and pretties in Word. This also minimizes any compatibility issues that may creep up. I have not tried the other 2 Apps.

For file sharing I use GoodReader .. I mentioned it under File Sharing above. It's nice, easy, and clean.

WinAdmin is a basic app for connecting to computers via RDP. I connected to my Backup Exec server and played around. It works pretty darn well. I will post more as I get familiar with it.

I'm using Blogpress to write this and it works well. See that graphic up there? I posted it WITH the text of this blog entry, a feat that MacJournal cannot achieve. I still can't figure out how to format text in this thing, so no bold or italics for me for now. Arrgh.

I also like using Bloomburg's stock tracker, which is far superior to the widget on my MacBook. I can now watch myself go broke in style.

Exchange 2007:

Strangely, mail would not connect to my exchange mail server at first, even though I have exchange set up to allow auto configuration from the outside. It worked fine once I set it up inside the network, and has worked flawlessly inside and out of the network ever since.

The calendar synchs up with my Exchange/Outlook calendar and all of my contacts made the trip ok as well.

I can also switch easily from my home account to my work account by clicking the account link at the top of the mail app. Classy.


Oh yes. This thing was born to game! Monkeyball is a favorite around my house because you can set the iPad on the table and play against each other using controls on each corner of the 'pad. Nice. I have been playing a whole lot of GodFinger, a free God sim which is a cross between populous and Farmville. If you play, be a pal and add Retr0Rob to your friends list, will ya? I have been downright obsessed with Warpgate HD. It looks and plays great. Every iPod game I have tried on the 'pad has worked well, if not faster. You can double the size by tapping an icon on the bottom of the screen. I have found that most iPod games play a bit better on the iPad due to the increased real estate. I have also found that. I often accidentally hit the sizing icon at the most inopportune moments. It would be nice to have a way to choose the size before the app loads. Double sizing does hake the games grainy, but I didn't think they looked to bad. Of course I still play Atari games, so take my opinion there with a grain of salt.

03/04/2010 Update:


Sucks. for the most part you have to keep a Mac or PC around for the printing apps to work. I have tried several, and none have been able to print directly to my networked Konica Magicolor 2430 I hear networked HPs and Canons have better luck. That said, the printing programs are rather clunky. Mostly I open the thing I want to print in whatever app I created it in, copy the doc, close the app, open the printing app then paste the file into the printing app. Ouch. Supposedly printing will be improved for OS 4. Hope so!

Print quality looks good. I have not had scaling issues as some have reported. I have tried several printing apps and kept both MobileToolz pro and ePrint. I guess ePrint is my favorite.. It sucks marginally less and costs half the price. ePrint has WAY less file managing capabilities than Mobiletoolz, but I use the far superior GoodReader when I need file management. So basic recap: Printing bad, Ug. If you must do it, use ePrint. If you have a USB or obscure network printer leave your PC or Mac on and setup printer sharing.

-- Posted from my big ass iPod

Location:Wisconsin 100,Wauwatosa,United States

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