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iPad Update

I’ve been using a tablet since I got my iPad 2 for a Christmas a few years back. I eventually upgraded that to an iPad Mini which I’ve then had for almost the past two years.

I’ve briefly experimented with an Android tablet (the Tesco Hudl and Hudl 2) but I haven’t been impressed with them. I just don’t get on with Android it seems.

However, I’d been debating if I wanted to upgrade the iPad. I have a laptop provided to me by my office, so I had a fully working laptop at home, as well as my iMac. I recently hadn’t seemed to be using the tablet to the best of it’s ability. I’d got an iPhone and that seemed to be my go to item for looking stuff up whilst on the sofa. However, a number of things were coming up that made me upgrade (and I’m currently glad I did).

Apps

Apps are what make the iPad great. The hardware is decent but then some of the Android tablets are good as well. However, iOS still has an advantage in productivity apps in my opinion, as well as overall better polished apps.

I’m now a monthly reader of the Judge Dredd Megazine from 2000 AD – dark and gritty. None of this US awesomeness that Marvel and DC seem to promote (though I do like the latest Marvel films).

Whilst reading them on the iPad Mini was fine, reading them on the Hudl 2 was odd. The screen ratio didn’t suit the comics and the app didn’t seem to zoom in well enough and the whole experience was a mess. I missed Chunky. This was the best PDF/CBZ reader I’d found on the iPad (though I use it for eBooks and comics only, as I use PDF Expert for reading documents as I can make notes in this) and I very quickly updated to the paid for upgrade to let me access documents in Dropbox. Useful, as that’s where my Calibre content is kept.

The bookshelf view automatically groups together items of the same time into bookshelves and these can be manually changed if required.

Chunky bookshelf

The comics themselves look fantastic on the retina screen. Hats off to both Apple and 2000AD.

Chunky Comic View

I also found that I missed Editorial and Byword. There were Android equvilants but I wasn’t happy with either of them in comparison to the iOS versions. Whilst I could move everything into Evernote and have that sync between devices, I’ve slowly moved away from Evernote for some reason – having my own notes in markdown format seems easier, though admittly searching isn’t as good on Windows systems (on the Mac, it’s fine, as I use nValt.)

Because of this app ecosystem, I felt that this detracted from my Android experience and so I decided it was time to move back.

In addition, I got the following video sent to me via Youtube’s subscribe function from Ironhide Studios…

Kingdom Rush is back! Whilst this didn’t effect my decision to get another iPad, it’s nice to see that I’ll have a tablet I can play it on. Was quite happy with the first and second one, so I’m looking forward to this version. Maybe I’ll try and complete the previous two again before this one arrives.

Hardware

The iPad is one of the best tablets on the market in my mind. I know it isn’t really fair to compare the Hudl and the iPad as they’re about £300 difference in price. However, the iPad is still one of the best tablets I’ve used. Comparing it to the Nexus 10, which my brother owns, the iPad stomps all over it in my mind. iOS and Android aside, the quality of the iPad is much nicer.

I’m yet to acquire myself a Bluetooth keyboard for it, but this is something that I’m stuck on. Whilst I can type on the Apple keyboard, it’s not really a pleasent experience in my mind – I much prefer keys with more travel. The best bluetooth keyboard I’ve ever owned is the Matias Laptop Pro, however, it’s not cheap and its not particularly easy to carry. I think I’ll need to keep an eye out on a new bluetooth keyboard to use on the go. Mind, in fairness, I have to question how often I would need the keyboard (though it is the intention to write more on the iPad in the future).

I went for the 64GB version of the iPad and I’m extremely happy I did – its made it a much more useful device. The iPad Mini I had was 16GB and it meant I could never really use it for what I wanted it for – I would keep having to delete data from it to make room for something else. With 64GB, I can happily download papers from my Zotero library (stored on Dropbox) to read as and when, I can store all my graphic novels and comics within Chunky and I don’t have to worry about deleting an old game to play a new one.

Backup

Whilst Android has instigated this, it’s a lot more transparent in iOS. Plugging in and connected to wifi, my iPad backs up itself up to the iCloud servers. This happens automatically over night. Likewise, most of the apps sync with Dropbox, so I can sync across whatever I need to from my iMac.

I’ve not yet upgraded from my free 5GB, but I imagine in the future, I’ll be upgrading to 20GB, as the backup function is excellent and extremely handy. It’s part of the reason I prefer the iPad to getting a Macbook Air, as I don’t have to run any additional programs – it’s all done in the background without me doing anything. This is in addition to a lot of the apps built in Dropbox integration. However, I note that my dad managed to lose almost a years worth of photos when it didn’t back up properly, so it’s something I need to double check occasionally. Also, because of the battery life of the iPad, it might go a day or two without being charged and it only backs up when connected to the power.

Portability

The iPad is a lot more portable than my work laptop. This makes it easier to just drop it in a bag and disappear somewhere with it. My intention is to spend some time writing magazine articles, journal articles and other items on the iPad. And I would do this outside of the house and the office. To this end, I looked at the iPad as a laptop replacement. As I use plain text for writing and I can pretty much do almost everything else I need to do on the iPad, this made sense.

Conclusions

Overall, I’m happy with the purchase. I think it already sees more use than a laptop would have done in the same situation and it’s carried around with me where I go. It manages to do almost all the tasks I need it to do, but only falls short on a few specialised tasks. The biggest one I wish that could be done is to upload and download from my Garmin 800 to Strava – however, this might be possible using a camera connection kit and a file manager app, but I’ve not fully investigated that possibility.

It’s extremely handy, and I’m finding that I’ll often sit on the sofa with the iPad rather than boot the iMac up (though this is potentially down to catching up with Lost on Amazon Instant Prime at the same time…). Even posting this to my blog is easy from the iPad.

The speed increase from the iPad Mini is well worth it. I’m going to try and use it to go more paperless in the office – the intention being to take notes whilst I’m in meetings on the iPad, rather than on paper. I’ll see how this goes (I imagine it’ll come down to my typing speed).

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