Thoughts on the New iPad

It took a little longer than I initially had in mind, but I finally purchased the new iPad last week. I have, of course, been using it regularly, and, for example, have transferred all my study material for the ACSP OS X Lion Essentials exam.

Firstly, though, let me get a question out of the way that I frequently read on the various blind Mac and iDevice user email lists. I can’t tell you how many times this has cropped up over the last few years, and I’m always fascinated by the range of responses that are offered. That question has to do with whether someone should buy an iPad if they already own an iPhone or a laptop of some kind.

My basic philosophy is this. If you are happy with what you have, then don’t buy an iPad. Some folks can do with just an iPhone or can get tasks done with their laptop, and buying an iPad might be an expense that is too much to justify.

On the other hand, the iPad, to me, is an amazing device that simply cannot be categorized. When I am asked to explain why an iPad is more advantageous to use over a laptop, it is difficult for me to really put my comments in words. You really have to use an iPad to discover what a fantastic device it is, and then you will figure out how this little beastie cannot be accurately categorized or compared to a laptop or net book..If you own an earlier iPad model, then the choice of whether to buy the new model is even more difficult. It really comes down to what you do with it and if the improvements to the new model truly make the purchase worth the price. Again, just like the choice to even buy an iPad is not an easy question to answer, so is the matter of upgrading one. It simply comes down to the individual’s situation and the tasks that one needs to accomplish. For some folks, the iPad is either just not something necessary to own, or the original or iPad 2 is good enough for them, while for others, it is worth every dollar spent on it to purchase a new model.

For me, beyond the simple reality that I am an Apple geek, I use my iPad for a variety of tasks. It’s mobility and ease of use often makes it the tool of choice over my Mac Book Pro. Equally so, because it’s a bit larger and diverse, I will choose it over the iPhone 4S, despite the fact that the iPhone does run many of the same apps. It just has that perfect balance between size and functionality in which I find myself grabbing it to use around the house or to even take to other locations if I need to do work or some other task.

Studying is, without a doubt, my most frequent use. Besides having the OS X Lion Essentials training guide available to me in iBooks, I have all of my notes and my document of sample questions available to me in Pages. It is a simple matter to read and alternate between sources as I continue to study and internalize the information for the exam. I often just use the iPad itself, though I have an Apple Bluetooth keyboard that I will sometimes choose for more convenient operation or navigation.

Of course, I have a bunch of other third party apps I utilize for a variety of reasons. I can check my fantasy sports teams, play a bunch of different games or use the iMessage feature to chat with friends an family. I can Face Time chat and use Skype, since the new iPad has a very nice camera feature. I, of course, also can check email and web browse in between everything else all from the couch or a chair out in the backyard or my front porch.

Yeah, I could do all of that with my Mac Book Pro and have done so from time to time, but, again, the size and ease of use of the iPad simply makes it a better and more convenient option. Since just about everything syncs with iCloud, I can switch from device to device as well when necessary. I can pick it up and use it at will, and easily take it with me when I need to do so.

Overall, the “advantages” I have found to the new iPad over my original iPad are the following:

• The new iPad is definitely faster. Particularly with Safari and responsiveness with apps and VoiceOver, I have noticed a noticeable difference.

• The dictation addition simply rocks. I have used this feature all of the time on the iPhone, and it has made the iPad a device I now can easily use for messaging and emailing.

• The camera addition compared to the original provides a means for Face Time and Skype chatting. This might not be a big deal to others, but again, this is all a matter of my personal opinion.

• The new iPad is a bit smaller than the original model. I don’t know how it compares to an iPad 2, as I’ve never used one, but the new iPad is even more compact than my first one.

• In regard to the initial misinformation and basic crap spread by fans of other tablets, the new iPad does not have any heating issues. In fact, with my daily use, I notice no significant difference with long term use with the new iPad compared to the first. My Mac Book Pro probably gets hotter on my lap than the iPad.

• I like the hinged magnetic case for the new iPad Apple supplies compared to the original one. It’s just more convenient to flip open or roll up the new case. It has a nice feature in which flipping back the case from the screen will automatically wake up the iPad. I believe this case was something introduced with the iPad 2, so those who own that model are probably familiar with it.

• Not a big deal for those of us who are blind, but sighted folks are blown away by the graphics and screen of the new iPad. I’ve played some videos and used the NHL Game Center app, and have gotten impressed comments from sighted folks about the quality of the graphics.

• Not that VoiceOver wasn’t a pleasure to use on the original iPad, but just the very fact that I can utilize this device on par with a sighted person and get done what I need to do for studying, training and play makes it a great investment equal to what I made in the iPhone 4S back in October.

The bottom line, however, is you, as the potential user, must decide for yourself if the iPad is worth the money and something that you will benefit from. If you are a student or professional, though, to me, it will change your world and give you even more flexibility and mobility than you have with a laptop or net book, and more power and ease of use than with a Smart Phone. The thing is, it is not an inexpensive proposition, and is one that should be made with deliberation and thought prior to a final decision.

If you do choose to buy an iPad, there is also the matter of whether to get a model with WiFi alone or to include the 4G LTE feature. To be honest, unless you really are going to be traveling a great deal and going to places where you will not have access to a WiFi network of some kind, the additional $150 for 4G LTE is not worth the money. Where I live on Long Island, as an Optimum cable subscriber, there are WiFI hotspots all over, so I do not need to worry about a network. When I am at the houses of family or friends, again, I have WiFi access, so there was no need for a 4G expense.

Once more, these are the opinions of a user who had a need and reason for purchasing a new iPad, even as I owned an original iPad and an iPhone 4S. I had specific reasons and desires for this purchase, and it certainly may not be the same for others. Nevertheless, I will say with complete honesty and conviction that I highly recommend the new iPad. Once again, Apple has produced a fantastic product, and with the out of the box accessibility they have brought to the blind over the last seven years, it only makes the new iPad an equal temptation for both blind and sighted folks alike.

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