Category Archives: apple

New iPad: Worth the upgrade?

I’ve bought each generation iPad: iPad (AT&T), iPad 2 (Verizon), and now the 3rd generation iPad with Verizon LTE.

For those on the fence, is it worth upgrading? Here’s my take: YES

  • Fantastic high-definition screen (must been seen to appreciate)
  • Faster cellular data options (Verizon LTE & AT&T LTE) than the iPad 2
  • Upgraded rear camera / camcorder

I’ve found the new iPad especially useful now that I’ve added a zagg folio keyboard case. It’s protective while not adding alot of bulk and weight. And perhaps best of all? The keyboard isn’t cramped and I can actually type accurately using it. Aside from the great quality the zagg folio offers, it also comes in great color combinations: I have the blue cover with white keyboard on ordeThe 3rd generation iPad feels like the iPad I’ve always wanted, and I’m thrilled to have it. If you’re near an Apple Store, highly recommend visiting to see the new iPad for yourself.

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iPad vs. Galaxy Tab: Which tablet is right for you?

Recently, a new tablet was released that finally seems a worthy competitor to the iPad: The Samsung Galaxy Tab. Up until now, the iPad was the tablet to get — partly due to its inherent quality and great user experience but also due to lack of competition.

So, choosing a tablet has become more difficult… which is right for you: Apple’s  iPad (size: 9.56” x 7.47” x .5”; weight: 1.5 pounds) or the Samsung Galaxy Tab (size: 7.48” x 4.74” x .47”; weight: .08 pounds)?

Let’s walk through questions you’ll want to consider:

Do you have a mobile OS preference: Android (Galaxy Tab) or iOS ( iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch)?

  • iOS (iPad)ipad_image
    • Apple is legendary for product ease of use, and the iPad continues that tradition.
    • If you (or the person you’re buying for) currently use an iPhone or iPod Touch, they’ll immediately feel right at home with the iPad.
    • Even if the prospective tablet user hasn’t used iOs previously, they should be able to pick up the iPad and quickly feel comfortable.
  • Android (Galaxy Tab)samsung-galaxy-tab
    • OS doesn’t require a degree in rocket science but is more complex than iOS.
    • I have non-techie friends who’ve bought Android phones and then felt overwhelmed, confused.
    • If you consider yourself (or the person you’re buying for) a geek who likes to try new things, you’ll feel comfortable mounting the Android OS learning curve.

How important is a large catalogue of apps available for download?

  • iPad is the clear winner if
    • You’ve owned other iOS devices and invested a lot of money on iOS apps
    • You want the largest possible catalogue of apps available to download to your iPad. See my post listing favorite iPad apps here.
  • Galaxy Tab is worth considering if
    • You like the ability to obtain apps from the official Android Market as well as downloading apps directly from web sites. NOTE: AT&T Galaxy Tab doesn’t currently support installing apps from non-Market sources; all other carrier Galaxy Tabs allow you to install apps from a variety of sources as long as you go to Settings > Applications and select the option for “Unknown Sources”.
    • You prefer to download free apps. Not sure why, while many apps I’ve installed for iOS were paid apps, it seems many more (although not all) Android apps are free. See my posting listing favorite Android / Galaxy apps (so far) here.

How do you plan to use your tablet?

Caveat: The best way to determine which is best for you (or the person you’re buying for) is to go to a local store. No amount of reading can replace checking out a device hands on.

  • Viewing movies: Supported by both devices
    • iPad users can buy and download movies from iTunes
    • Galaxy Tab users can download movies from the Samsung Media Hub app, or load the movie onto their SD card.
  • Watching Hulu / Hulu Plus: iPad is clear winner as Android does not yet have a Hulu Plus app, and you cannot successfully view Hulu / Hulu Plus video content via Android browser.
  • Watching Netflix: Again, iPad is clear winner as Android does not yet have an app supporting Netflix streaming video.
  • Watching TV shows on web sites using Flash: Galaxy Tab is the clear winner here as iPad does not support Flash in the iPad Safari browser.
  • Reading eBooks: Both the iPad and Galaxy Tab offer ebook software (e.g., apps for Kindle, Barnes & Noble nook) but where do you plan to read?
    • At a desk with tablet in stand: Both the iPad and Galaxy Tab work well in this scenario.
    • Lounging on the sofa: I’ve found the Galaxy Tab to be more comfortable to use in this scenario since it’s the size of a Trade paperback book.  The iPad is simply a bit big and heavy, and I wind up feeling distracted by having to hold / balance it.
  • Browsing / web surfing: See eBook reading scenarios, above.
  • Information at a glance: While the iPad offers many more apps, Android (Galaxy Tab) offers the ability to add widgets to your home screens. I find the ability to get information “at a glance” to be extremely handy, especially when I have limited time.
  • Games: Both devices are great for game play and have a variety of good games available.
    • Flash games: If you like to play flash games on the web, Galaxy Tab is the clear choice (Flash not supported by iPad).
  • Mobile use:
    • Tablet as laptop replacement / netbook: iPad
    • Tablet as mobile device to slip into your handbag: Galaxy Tab
      • As they say with cameras, the best mobile device is the one you have with you. I found that I left the iPad at home frequently just because it didn’t fit in my handbag.

Do you want to avoid wireless carrier charges?

  • iPad: You can buy either a WIFI-only iPad or an iPad that offers both WIFI + 3G connectivity (3G data provided by AT&T, with multiple price tiers). If you buy the WIFI only iPad, you will not need wireless carrier data access (and thus will not incur any related charges).
  • Galaxy Tab: Currently in the U.S., the Galaxy Tab is tied to wireless carriers and can be purchased at a discount with wireless contract, or at a higher price without contract. It’s a little confusing to describe, and I recommend reviewing PCWorld’s pricing comparison here. Note: A WIFI only Tab is set to become available via Best Buy but its release has been delayed – my guess is Samsung will release it after the holidays, to ensure the WIFI only version doesn’t cannibalize wireless carrier sales.

There you have it… questions I suggest considering before making your tablet purchase. Did I miss a usage scenario that you’d like to see covered? Leave a comment to let me know.

My favorite iPad apps (so far)

ipad I love my iPad 3G, it’s a pleasure to use. While iPad apps aren’t as numerous as  those for iPhone/iPod Touch (yet), I’ve found some worth recommending. Note: Links point to iTunes.

News –

Thomson Reuters Pro: I respect Reuters as a news organization, and their iPad app doesn’t disappoint. Wide range of topics and elegant presentation. (Free)

France 24: Excellent news content and easy to use app. (Free)

SkyGrid: Interesting new app that presents 10 “Featured Streams” based on current newsworthiness. App also provides ability to subscribe to specific news categories. (Free)

npr: Nice content presentation and all the news you’ve come to expect from npr. (Free)

WSJ: Love it for the dead tree newspaper-like experience. I have a WSJ Online subscription and so far using this app has been free. Will I recommend it when I’m paying ~$18 per month? Not sure. (Free app. WSJ subscription required after trial)

NY Times Editors Choice: Not the full newspaper content, thus the “Editors Choice” label. Nonetheless, I enjoy it for the dead tree newspaper experience similar to WSJ app. (Free)

USA Today: If you like the USA Today newspaper or iPhone app, you’ll like the iPad app as well. ‘Nuff said. (Free)

Finance –

Bloomberg for iPad: Think Bloomberg app for iPhone, on steroids. Track your portfolio, monitor Finance news and watch the markets. (Free)

Thomson Reuters MarketBoard: A different presentation than Bloomberg app, with a cool animated market board. Also features news, corporate call information, and ability to monitor your stocks. (Free)

Books –

Kindle: LOVE it! Offers the reading experience I’d hoped for from Kindle hardware. Tip: Want cool iBooks-like page turn animations? On Home screen, tap “i” (lower right of screen), then Settings, and then set “Basic Reading Mode” to OFF. (Free app. Kindle books can be had at a variety of prices, including free)

iBooks: Apple’s own eBook Reader. I think the Bookshelf UI is a bit tired but, nonetheless, easy to use and beautiful interface. (Free app. Lots of books available and many free offerings)

Alice for the iPad – Lite: A great example of what’s possible with eBooks. Beautiful graphics and cool interactive animations. (Free)

Marvel: Gorgeous comic book graphics – even if you’re not into comic books, worth downloading just to check out. (Free app. There are a few free comics available, but most are paid.)

Twitter –

I haven’t found an iPad twitter app that knocks my socks off yet, but here are the frontrunners at this point…

Tweetings: Makes good use of iPad screen real estate and fairly robust. Also offers notifications, which is a plus. ($2.99)

HelTweetica for iPad: Similar UI to Tweetings, but also includes retweet, fav, @ and DM commands on main twitter list. I like how clicking a link drops you directly into the web page. (Free)

Weather & Traffic –

As with Twitter apps, I have found some good options but am hoping there continue to be improvements in this space.

Weatherbug Elite for iPad: A very useful “at a glance” view — main screen is 3/4 map with weather details squeezed into the right-most 1/4 of the screen. (Free)

The Weather Channel Max for iPad: Select from six screens: Maps, Local, Video, Severe, Social, & On TV. Great for when you want more detail than Weatherbug provides.  (Free)

Beat the Traffic: Uses GPS to show your location on large map, along with real-time traffic info and slowdowns. (Free. US & Canada only)

Productivity & Reference –

I’ve purchased Numbers, Keynote, and Pages but haven’t used them much yet. Here are some noteworthy productivity apps…

MaxJournal: Great journaling / note-taking app with a beautiful “Day-Timer” interface. Can be password-protected. ($2.99)

Dragon Dictation: Amazingly accurate voice to text capability. (Free)

MindNode: I’ve tried both MindNode and iThoughtsHD but prefer MindNode for ease of use and its clean, easy to read diagrams. MindNode also supports exporting your maps. ($5.99)

WolframAlpha: The fantastic reference app that used to be $50 is now affordable and should be on everyone’s iPad/iPhone. ($1.99)

Dictionary.com Dictionary & Thesaurus: Straightforward dictionary and thesaurus reference. The price is right. (Free)

Entertainment –

Cartoons HD: MSNBC political/news cartoons. (Free)

Yahoo! Entertainment: Yahoo’s contribution to the iPad – news, book reviews, fashion, comics, and more. (Free)

ABC Player: Love being able to catch up on some great TV on my iPad: LOST!
:-)   (Free)

Netflix: For Netflix fans, this is a must have. Manage your queue, browse DVDs, and watch streaming video via “Watch Instantly.” (Free app. Requires Netflix subscription)

IMDB: Needs no further explanation – perfect app for serious movie fans. (Free)

Audio –

WunderRadio: I like WunderRadio for its flexibility. A great iPhone app is now an equally good app for iPad. ($6.99)

Pandora: Gotta have it. Love Pandora’s Spa Radio Channel. (Free)

Relaxation –

iZen Garden for iPad: Beautiful graphics and soothing sounds. Great for unwinding after a hectic day. ($5.99)

Magic Window: Gorgeous animated scenes with soothing ambient sounds. Love to open this app and then just leave the iPad standing on a desk. ($2.99)

Marine Aquarium: A colorful aquarium available anywhere, anytime. ($.99)

Games –

Scrabble: Disclosure – if there were a 12-step program for Scrabble addicts, I’d be first in line. Familiar scrabble board and tiles. Just wish the board were a bit bigger. ($9.99)

Shanghai Mahjong: Beautiful mahjong game, with a wide variety of tile graphics, board layouts, and backgrounds. ($2.99)

Pinball HD: Beautiful images and fun game play. ($2.99)

Angry Birds HD: I don’t know what got these birds so P.O.d, but this game rocks! Very fun and addictive. ($4.99)

Honorable Mention –

The Elements: A stunning display of periodic table elements. ($13.99)

What cool iPad apps have you found? Add a comment to share your recommendations.

I <3 Zephyr

Zephyr

Reading Venturebeat earlier today, I learned of a cool iPhone app that I downloaded & like alot: Zephyr

While Zephyr isn’t quite as cool as Ocarina [iTunes] — there’s no blowing into iPhone’s microphone to create music this time — it adds another element: Messages. You see, you create music on Zephyr by touching the screen. While you could just draw gibberish, the point is to send a holiday message (the writing is in snow flakes) to someone elsewhere in the world. For example, in testing out the app, I’ve already gotten the messages “Peace” and “Happy Holidays,” accompanied by the music produced from writing those statements (see video below).

via Ocarina maker Smule back with a holiday iPhone app, Zephyr » VentureBeat.

IPhone App Review: NatsuLion

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I recently ran across a new Twitter app: NatsuLion for iPhone. It has a cute little icon, but don’t underestimate this app – it’s well-designed, fast, and full-featured. And did I mention… free?

 

 photo

Like every other Twitter app for iPhone, NatsuLion displays “tweets” from your friends. What sets NatsuLion apart is how much information it packs into each screen: Until I view a tweet directed to me in the main stream, NatsuLion displays the number of replies, direct messages, etc. as a number on the Replies badge at the bottom of the screen.

 photo2

It also color-codes tweets directed to me within the main twitter stream:

Red = Reply

Blue = Direct Message

Yellow = Auto-search on my username

 photo3

Aside from enabling quick “at a glance” viewing of my Twitter stream, NatsuLion provides a variety of settings to enable a personalized experience. For example, “Use Safari” means that NatsuLion opens web sites within the app rather than in Safari (something I find very handy). I like having the ability to fetch 200 messages, and then have NatsuLion fetch even more messages (by enabling “Autopagerize”) if I get to the bottom of the 200 message list. There are 2 themes: Dark and Light – I prefer Light, but Dark is also attractive.

I’ve tried all the major Twitter apps for Iphone (both free & paid), and consider NatsuLion a significant find. It loads fast, helps me identify messages I need to review quickly via color-coding and unread count, and has an attractive, easy to use interface.

Highly recommended. Get it at the iPhone app store here.

Woe is me, MobileMe

I love the MobileMe concept. Really, I do.

It’s the execution that worries me, with email outages occurring even now, 30+ days following rollout.

While Apple works on MobileMe stability, I’m using my old fusemail email aggregator (IMAP) account and forwarding to MobileMe. That way I don’t need to worry while Apple irons out the bugs.