iPad review

I’ve had my iPad for about 9 months now and it has truly changed my life. I’m not a person that gets every single gadget on the planet and I’m not an Apple fan either. The iPad was my first Apple gadget, and I, overall, I have to say that I have been very impressed.

Design: 5/5
You don’t need me to tell you that the iPad is really a piece of art.

Quality of built: 2/5
Not great. I display issues with the first device, returned it after a few months (as it was getting worse); the replacement unit only lasted one week and I’m now on the 3rd device. I guess they need to spend more time on QC.

Apple Customer Service: 5/5
GREAT! I had no problems returning the faulty units. During these unit swaps, I lost a few videos that I had bought from iTunes. You are only officially allowed to download movies once. I contacted the iTunes helpdesk and I was allowed to download the videos I had lost.

Apple App Store: 4/5
It’s really a piece of cake to buy apps. I know that many have complained about the way Apple keep under tight control the apps that get published and we are not allowed to access alternative app markets (unless the iPad is jailbroken of course). I don’t agree with them. I actually like the fact that I can buy a £0.59 app (or even download a free one) without having to worry about possible viruses, exploits and other nasty things.

Apple iBooks: 4/5
The app is great but the selection of books is not as good as I’d expect. On the bright side, I love the fact that I can buy books on pdf from oReilly and Apress and read them on iBooks. I even got a Safari Online subscription, something I hadn’t done before as I didn’t like the idea of reading textbooks on my laptop.

Apple iTunes: 3/5
I love the on-demand service, but I’m not very happy with the frequency TV episodes are added and the fact that you are not allowed to download twice something you’ve already paid for. This is for me a major flaw in the iTunes business model and the only thing that stops me from buying an Apple TV.

Overall, I’m very happy with the device, the apps and the service I have received from Apple. I wished the built quality was better, but I wouldn’t consider getting a different tablet.

Using dropbox at work

With the arrival of the iPads, we’ve been changing many of our processes in order to put information on the fingertips of our senior mgmt team. Our key app right now is Dropbox and we convert most of the files to pdf.

Dropbox is a great little tool, as it enables us to update files on the fly. As it stands right now though, it is not suitable for wide corporate use for 3 reasons.

The first reason is that it doesn’t have a central admin point. For example, I can share folders with my contacts, and my contacts can share folders with others. Ideally, you need a service where access management is controlled centrally. If an employee leaves, we don’t want him/her to be able to access confidential data.

The second reason is that you cannot save the dropbox folder on the company network. To bypass the access mgmt control issue, my original plan was to set up a pc with dropbox and save the dropbox folder in one of our network drives. That would allow our colleagues to save files directly in specific folders (within the dropbox folder, saved in our network). This problem was solved by writing a simple sync script in python that synchronises various folders and files from our network with the dropbox folder which is located on a single machine. This solution turned up to be a better solution in the end as I managed to pick up a lot of files from their original network locations and sync them with the local dropbox folder, meaning that most of my colleagues kept saving their files as normal and minutes later these files would appear on the various ipads. A simple python script allowed us to avoid installing dropbox on every pc and creating an administrative nightmare for ourselves!

The third reason is that, due to the way dropbox saves files in a remote cloud, we don’t quite control our files. This can be addressed with a corporate company-owned dropbox server.

By having a single pc with drobox installed and a python script that syncs the files every couple of minutes, we created a practical configuration that allows our senior mgmt team to access the files they need on their ipads, without having to install dropbox on various machines, create accounts, share folders and create an admin nightmare for ourselves.

More gadgets: iPad & 3G WiFi modem

Yesterday, I got an iPad at work (I love my job!), to replace my overweight and ageing A5 Filofax. It’s a US import, with only 16GB and no 3G, but hey, I got it for free, so I’m definitely not complaining!

ipad_500

Web browsing is fantastic and the usual apple gestures make surfing very easy.
001_w500

002_w500

Today, to rectify the “no 3G” issue, I bought a 3G WiFi modem, Huawei E5830, aka MiFi, from 3:

3g_modem

This little 3G modem creates a hotspot around it, which allows my WiFi-only iPad to get online.

It’s quite small, smaller than my blackberry:
3gmodem_vs_bbery

In a few days, I’ll report on whether the iPad/MiFi combination works well.

Right now I’m busy loading the iPad with apps. These are the ones I’ve loaded so far:
1. Dropbox – great app for the iPad, and the reason I got it in the first place.
2. GoodReader – because every iPad should have it!
3. IMDb
4. Now Playing – showtimes and info on films in release.
5. Skype
6. Google App – personal email, calendar, rss reader, etc, etc.
7. TouchOSC – which I’m planning on using it with Processing.
8. iSSH – SSH and VNC app.
9. Various news apps – AP News, FT, USA Today, Reuters, NPR, Boomberg.
10. Sony Pictures – great app for the Ipad, kudos to the guys at Sony.
11. Iron Man app – I was just curious.
Amazon Kindle app – not working in the UK though…
Amazon UK app – iPhone app really, looks horrible when x2…

The App Store is not working directly from the iPad, I have to download all the apps on the PC and sync them. Hopefully that won’t be a problem for too long, as the iPad gets released in the UK in a week’s time or so.

I’m really looking forward to see the ebooks that will eventually become available on the iPad as I really think that the iPad can do for books what the iPod did for music. I’d really love to see all my IT book collection saved in there!

One of the things I noticed is that the WiFi connection is a bit temperamental. Basically, to save battery, you lose the connection every time you don’t connect to the internet for a while. What I did at home and it seems to be working very well (for the past few hours) is that I allocated an IP address to the iPad, instead of relying on the DHCP server to allocate a new IP address every time the iPad needs to go online.

By the way, skype works great on the iPad, but a headset is probably recommended as it’s not exactly the smallest handset around :), quite the opposite actually!

003_w500

Anyway, enough said! I’m going to play with my new toys now and report back in a few days.