Saturday, March 10, 2012

Spec Comparisons

Spec Comparison: New iPad vs. Galaxy Tab 10.1 vs. Kindle Fire, article.

I haven't actually read the article. I just mention it because it made me think of this: spec comparisons, as Apple computer well knows, are pretty meaningless. What matters is the experience. And at the very least, for direct hardware comparisons to make much sense ("double core" vs "quad core" etc), the two devices really have to run the same OS and apps.
Really well done software, as we saw on the original iPad, can make a relatively weak device seem dang fast (for instance it avoided any multitasking), and vice versa, as many people saw for instance when they updated to Windows Vista, and it turned out it needed not only new, but pretty muscular machines to run decently. And sometimes a system extension or even just a bad app can slow down a whole machine dramatically.

By the way, in a new twist, I find myself, after just one day's study, to be uninterested in reading much more about the New iPad. I researched it intensely the day it came out, I made my decision, I wanted it, I ordered it, I feel pretty certain about that it will work well for me and my purposes, I don't think there are any more data I'm missing about it, and so I'm not so interested in gathering them, or in reading up on anybody else's opinions about it. (Well, in friendly talk here, sure, but I'm not looking up any columnists or such.)

It has been that way for a few years with Macs. I guess the main turning point was when the Intel Macs came out, and for the first time it became possible to get a machine which had the speed I wanted, at the same time as it was quiet enough to not frazzle my nerves. (the G5 tower could get real dang noisy when it got hot.) Before that, I used two machines, a Power Mac tower for production (image processing etc), and a laptop or iMac for web and email. But since then it has pretty much just worked the way I wanted (since my first computer), and a lot of my interest in Mac sites faded.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

7 March new iPad

Apple has made the same odd choice as Amazon did with the latest Kindle, not calling the new model "iPad 3", but simply "iPad". They continue to sell the iPad 2, at $100 less.  So right now Apple is selling "iPad" and "iPad 2", and the first one is the latest one! (In a pinch, call it "iPad (third generation)" like the Apple store.) What is it with large companies and naming products? I had an Apple laptop once called the Powerbook G3 (bronze keyboard). Seriously.

It would have been cool with haptics (a screen where you can feel ridges and such), but nope, not this time. What we get is basically: 
  • A better screen, 2048-by-1536 resolution, 4x the pixels
  • More power (if only to drive the display)
  • A better camera, 5MP
  • 4G mobile speed (for the models with mobile connection beyond wifi)
  • Dictation
And new software to get, like iPhoto for iPad for the first time, with power and ability to handle up to 19MP images, which is way, way higher than the just-announced, otherwise great Photoshop Touch (which will surely soon be updated). Watch the keynote, iPhoto for iPad is amazingly powerful and quick, very impressive. And the price is symbolic: five bucks!

It's 50 grams heavier, which should be around "just noticeable". It's the same size, except for just 0.6mm thicker, so the iPad 2 cases should fit.
It's about the perfect form and size for the purposes, but I wish one day they'll make one at half the weight, because you really need support for this thing when using it for more than a few minutes. 

I use the iPad mostly for video and reading, and I suspect that the Retina Display, as it does on the iPhone, will make a significant difference, especially with reading. I think it may minimise eye stress quite a lot, I'm looking forward to getting one myself.

(I think I'll wait this time for the UK version to come out, hoping that the time difference will be rather less than the over two months it was with the first model.) [Update: well, times they are a-changing, it seems that in the UK it will come out about the same time as in the US! In a week or two, nice.]

Apple is also strongly stressing the powers of content-creation of this iPad, hitting the "post-PC" button many times. I am not sure how fast and for how many tasks we can get used to going without keyboard and mouse, time will tell.

The 4G networks are just starting to appear around the world, but the connection speeds should be quite a leap up, if one chooses to connect via iPad directly. I prefer to save a contract by connecting via my iPhone in the instances I need to connect outside of a wifi hotspot. The iPhone 4S is not 4G-enabled, sadly, but one supposes that the next one in the fall will be. (Whether that will be an "iPhone 5" or simply "iPhone" is a matter of tense anticipation.)

The dictation sounds wonderful, given the clumsiness of typing on a screen, but I'm not so optimistic about how well it will work for people like me, who are not native English speakers, previous systems have been less than great for many of us. It's very frustrating, you think you have said a perfectly clear English sentence, and still 95% of the time a couple of words are messed up.

Apple again decided not to stream the keynote speech live (I wonder if they have given up that), but amazingly they posted the video less than half an hour after the end. That's some fast editing there!

Sadly, despite all the HD video capabilities (creating or consuming), 64GB is still the largest memory size. I think that's a bit lame. I think the three sizes should all have been bumped up to double. Memory is dirt cheap these days.

Buying on the Apple online store is not easy after a big announcement. After trying to even get in for a couple of hours, it seemed to work, but then I was thrown out a couple of times in the middle of ordering. I did finally get the whole thing done though, in the middle of the night.

Update: Here's a mainstream media commentary, some of it is interesting, thanks to TCGirl.
The new iPad "looks the same as the old one [but] you're getting a considerably improved screen, improved camera and processor," he says. "I don't think they passed the 'wow' factor but I don't think they have to. They improved the iPad considerably over what it used to be and I think that's your 'wow' factor. If you're not happy with that, you might be a little jaded."

Within history

History never looks like history when you are living through it.
           -- John W. Gardner

I am thankful to have lived through what I think will be seen as the most important development for humankind since the industrial revolution itself, the birth and insanely rapid growth of the Internet. 
Like David Bowie said all the way back in the nineties: It will change everything, absolutely everything. 

Windows 8 why?

I'm listening to Engadget Podcast 283 - 03.02.2012, and they are interviewing a reviewer of Windows 8 Preview. As you may be aware, Windows 8 will combine a desktop interface and a tablet interface in the same OS. Apparently though, the two parts don't really work together, for example they each have an "Internet Explorer 10", but these are very different apps, and they don't share bookmarks or anything (remarkable).

These people are all, like everybody else I have read or talked to, very puzzled as to why Microsoft would combine these two things, which after all are different exactly because they are meant to be run on very different hardware, one has a big screen, keyboard and mouse, the other a small screen and nothing else. So when are you going to need them both? You may want it in specialized hardware which can switch between a small laptop and a large tablet, but I doubt very much this will ever become a mainstream thing.

What is interesting to me is that apparently nobody has any idea why Microsoft would be doing this. And keep in mind that they are investing millions of dollars and man-hours on this, and hanging a big part of the company's future on it. So who came up with this idea at Microsoft, and who are the pretty big number of people who think it'll work (unless they're all just yes-men), and based on what? Surely if there was a solid reason, somebody would know about it, if nothing else then to boost confidence in MS stock.

Orangutans use an iPad (updated)

[Thanks to TCGirl]

Here's an interesting article about it. I've made a donation for their program.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Leaked iPad 3 video.

It clearly has a better camera. And it has Siri, good news for those born into English.
Interesting that it's slightly thicker, given Apple's near-anorexic fetish for thinness, there must be a good reason for it. The camera? Power for the high-res display?

[Loud music, you may want to turn volume low.]

If the camera is as good as the one in iPhone 4S (the one in the iPad 2 is abysmal), the iPad 3 might be an interesting camera. Sure, not exactly pocketable in most outfits, but you won't find a bigger or better screen for composing those artsy photos. I've said before that I think that a screen makes for better overview of compositions of photos, and this may make a whole new game of this. Almost like Apple's 30-inch screen surprised me as being a whole 'nuther level of enjoying photos, since it's bigger than most prints people make by far, and it has a much better contrast than even the best paper print.

Introducing the Slate Book Review

Introducing the Slate Book Review, article.

A 2.5 Year-Old Has A First Encounter with An iPad

Can you say "precocious"?!
Though she had tried an iPhone before this, it is remarkable how she takes to it. I saw this video nearly two years ago when the iPad first came out, and I think it shows part of why it's not just "a big iPod touch", but important. It's a very powerful and intuitive interface.