Tobold's Blog
Friday, August 03, 2012
Considering buying an iPad

How useful or useless any gadget turns out to be is hard to predict. Thus I certainly don't regret having gone for the poor man's iOS solution of buying an iPod Touch. There are a lot of things I enjoy about the iPod Touch, from playing games to watching YouTube videos to quickly looking something up on the internet. But I am also very aware of its limitations. Now if you want to buy something better than an iPod Touch, you have two major options: An iPhone or an iPad. Compared to my WiFi-only iPod Touch, the iPhone would have the advantage of being always connected, and being usable as a phone. Neither of which are really important to me. Up to now I could get WiFi nearly everywhere, and I already have a mobile phone I'm not actually using all that often.

The iPad on the other hand also has this always connected option (unless you take a WiFi only version), and combines that with a much bigger screen. And as it turns out by using my iPod Touch, the bigger screen is what I would really need. The small iPod Touch is fine for some games with easy controls, like Tiny Towers, and for watching low-res YouTube videos. But for surfing it already far from ideal on most sites. And many games are either fiddly to control with my big fingers on a small touch screen, or don't run on the iPhone/iPod Touch at all.

That is why after extended use of my iPod Touch, I am now considering buying an iPad. It turns out that one local carrier has a pre-paid 4G plan on offer, which would allow me to use it mostly on WiFi, but still have the internet everywhere option when needed without having to pay a monthly subscription. So I was thinking of going all out and buying the most expensive iPad available, iPad3 with WiFi and 4G connectivity, and 64 GB of memory. Having the iPod Touch taught me how quickly you run out of memory, and I checked that while the iPad3 (while needing longer to recharge) has about the same battery life as the iPad2, or better if you turn down screen brightness. You might call that expensive, but it is still less than what I typically pay for a laptop.

One thing I hope to get out of this is being able to play some games not available for the smaller iOS devices.  Like one of my favorite board games: Titan. And some other iOS board games that have been recommended to me lately and are only available for the big screen. I also hope to be able to use the iPad more for my pen & paper roleplaying. I need to find the best application to display PDF and Word files on the iPad, and that in combination with Evernote should enable me to run my adventures directly from the iPad instead of having to search through printed out notes.

Has anyone of you experience with going from a smaller iOS device to the iPad? Or do you have any hints what I should look out for when using an iPad? Any special accessories and apps I should look for (I was thinking of one of those covers that turn into an iPad stand)?

I have a cover that also contains a bluetooth keyboard. This combination (iPad/keyboard) has replaced my laptop completely. If you do a decent amount of typing I highly recommend it. I got my from
Buying all the memory is a bad idea -- that's where they gouge you. If you're making use of Apple's iCloud service, then you keep all your stuff there and stream it anyway, not keep it on the device itself, so there's no need for anything more than the minimum amount of memory.
I prefer an actual stand for use while at the house and a cover and temporary stand for travel.

I am going to buy something with speakers in it because it is still so much simpler/quicker to go from powered off to listening to a podcast on the iPad than a Mac or Windows machine.

Depending on how the map design is going and how visual you are, you might want a stylus for design work.

"There is an ap for that" If you had a retina display iPad beside you when you are DMing, what would you want it to do? Why not have some programmer write you a DM assist ap for iPad - ITobold? iDMTobold?

There is no point in buying a new iPhone atm. The new version is coming soon. (I find helpful. ) But several decades ago I cam up with the XXXXX algorithm - the best answer to an either or question is both: cake or pie? smart or good looking? rich or famous? You clearly "need", in the first world sense of the word, an iPad3. I just don't see why that would impact when you buy an iPhone.
I take my iPad everywhere. I find the screens of the iPod or iPhone much too small for my poor eyes.

Besides the many games, it is excellent at both always-connected surfing, and as an electronic book reader (pick up such apps as GoodReader and Bluefire Reader for pdf and epub/mobi formats respectively.)

It can also be used as a comic book reader, there are apps for CBR or CBZ files. Or for subscriptions to comics or magazines.

The built-in iBooks app is okay for PDFs, but the problem with PDFs is that most are in portrait orientation, and the Smart Cover is only designed to work as an iPad stand in landscape orientation.

Word files can be repaginated, so they should be fine in landscape orientation as well. I tend to use the Kindle app for those.

Also, ask your mobile ISP about that 4G support; Apple got in trouble in Finland for advertising it as an 4G device, even though it doesn't work with Finnish 4G providers. Enough said?
That is why I am upgrading from an ipod touch to ipad3 in the near future. Play good games, while glancing at Mrs Dwisms tv-shows.
Autumn Dynasty. RTS done right on the ipad.

As for 4G: with that your ipad is a full functional internet device anywhere and can replace your notebook as a consumer device (read internet or mail).

As for 64GB: think twice if you really need that. If you carry around your music and movies yes, otherwise no
I definitely recommend iPad (retina version, duh). It is the most amazing screen and even the lowliest free RPG on the appstore comes to life.

The cover is a must, the additional connection options depend on your lifestyle (I use it primarily at home or at cafes where wifi is plentiful).

As to the extra memory, it's all about your budget - if you have the extra money, get it. I do fine with 16GB plus a Dropbox but I'm not a heavy media user on my iPad. I have 20 books (D&D & Pathfinder pdfs) and a bunch of photos.
I am on the Android side of things, so I can't tell you much about the iOS specifics. I know there are a bunch of cool boardgames available (Smallworld, Settlers of Catan and Carcassonne).

However I can relate my tablet experience. When I first got my tablet it was quite exciting because new devices always are.

Then I was disappointed because after playing a few games, I found it best for consuming information and I had wanted something to be used also for photo storage on vacations (didn't work so well) and writing emails etc. But without an additional keyboard, producing content on the tablet is quite tedious.

I already own a smartphone, a big and a small laptop and an ebook-reader. So among that bunch the (WiFi-only) tablet feels kind of redundant.

After having had it for a year, I use it to read news - sometimes, check but rarely answer email, play games and read pdf-ebooks that don't look good on the ebook-reader.

Since I am not GM on gaming night, I have not checked how usable it is for that. My character sheet is still in paper and for keeping track of hitpoints for my character I prefer my smartphone as it is smaller.

For Evernote I find the tablet experience very nice.

All in all if you do not already own "too many devices"(tm), a tablet is a good addition and especially for gamemasters.

If you are using music for your adventures you could maybe use a tablet as a kind of remote control also (the android app for our entertainment center software is not working so well, so for us that one did not work out - but iOS integrates very nicely with other Apple stuff or so I've heard so you might have better luck)
I set up my phone as a portable WiFi point whenever I'm out of reach of a 'normal' WiFi point. No need for 4G that only works in the US.

I don't like to be dependant on Internet whenever my kids 'need' to see a movie. Neither do I like to throw things away whenever I run out of space for apps. (There are games up to 1 GB.) Go for the biggest :D
Did you name-drop the board game in an attempt to create the "Blizzard's new Titan mmo to be iPad exclusive" rumour?
Interesting that you ran out of memory on your iPod Touch. I've had a 32GB Ipod Touch for over two years, use it every day and still have 12GB unused.

While I like my iPod Touch a lot, I decided long ago that it's likely to be not just my first Apple device but my only one. I really want a full-size Tablet but I'm waiting for the Win8 ones. I might get an Android device in the meantime, since they are so cheap.

No reason not to have several.
I got the ipad2 over a year ago.
I dont know if you have a wife/gf or not, but if so, expect not to be able to use your ipad as much as you would like :(
The wife uses the ipad constantly. The 8 hour battery life isnt even enough most days...
64 Gb of flash is probably overkill if you're mostly playing games and reading the web on the machine and don't need to carry your entire mp3 or photo collection. Most games are around a few dozen megabytes. I just checked my computer and my entire folder with apps for both iPhone and iPad is slightly less than 4 gB (108 items). I could have more but I tend to trash apps that I no longer use (I can always re-dowload them if needed). I have the middle iPad 3 version with only WiFi (previously had an iPad 1 with only WiFi and never missed the 3G, but your mileage may vary).

Games you might like to check out are Enigmo, Carcassonne, Civilization Revolution, Simcity DLX, Swordigo, SPYmouseHD and the usual suspects such as the Angry Birds incarnations, Bejeweled, Cut the Rope. NASA has several free and awesome apps as well and don't forget IMDB, DropBox and TED. If you like streaming video from your computer harddrive I highly recommend Air Video (needs a free lightweight server installed on computer).

I gave some friends my old iPad and told them to check out sites like regularly so I'll give you the same advice. Many developers make apps freely available for short periods to boost their iTunes store ranking.

My only regret so far is that I haven't found a really good Pinball simulator. Most seem to be way too twitchy and/or clunky with unrealistic simulated physics.
Don't forget DOTP 2013; runs exactly as the Steam version but you can play it anywhere.

I've had 16k for several years and am only now near the limit. I think 32k would be fine.
I've had 16k for several years and am only now near the limit. I think 32k would be fine.

The last computer I had with 16k memory was my ZX81 (1k base, the 16k was with an extension), and that was 30 years ago. :)

Six orders of magnitude later, my thought about "needing" 64GB is the following: The bloody thing can't be upgraded later! You basically get the choice of overpaying for memory now, or risk having to buy a new iPad later. So I prefer to be on the safe side.
Don't forget that there's the cloud for additional storage. Like what other posters said, unless you're carrying movies and music around, you'll find even 16gb ample for games and documents. With the short product life cycle these days, you're more likely to upgrade for speed and other features than disk space.
Don't forget that there's the cloud for additional storage. Like what other posters said, unless you're carrying movies and music around, you'll find even 16gb ample for games and documents. With the short product life cycle these days, you're more likely to upgrade for speed and other features than disk space.
As Thorsten says, if you have a smartphone with a data allowance that allows tethering already you can set this as a portable wifi-hotspot and tether the iPad to it when out of range of a wifi hotspot. Works a treat. No need to pay for a second data plan.

Other than that, go nuts! Tablets are great fun.
Buying my 64GB iPad was a decision I don't regret, even though I'm locked into a two year contract.

I'm a college student so I originally bought it for note-taking (I use a stylus or BT keyboard and the app "Notability"), but it was a lot more useful than I thought it'd be. I already had an iPhone 4 so I didn't think having a bigger screen-ed version would be *that* amazing, but actually it's improved the way I surf the web and game on iOS.

I'd say go for the memory so you don't need to delete things off your iPad.
I'm very happy with my iPad (3) in general. Although it can take a long time to recharge its huge battery, it lasts quite a long time on a charge. The screen is amazing and performance is much better than the (now getting quite old, and likely to soon be updated) iPod Touch.

Storage requirements really depend heavily on how you use it. 16 GB might work with no music/movie storage at all, and only a few big games. But I would suggest 32 or 64 GB are viable for most people. It's nice not having to worry about running out of space, but you pay for the privilege.

I would consider waiting until the rumored September Apple event if you have any interest in the 7-8 inch form factor. There has been a lot of speculation that Apple may introduce a smaller iPad soon. But if you would want 10 inches anyway, then there is probably no reason to wait.

The Smart Cover isn't very good as a stand imo, but it does fine for screen protection if you don't need any side/back coverage. The more vertical position as a stand is quite precarious, and always makes me nervous. The Apple iPad dock works quite well though, and provides charging (in portrait) and an audio out, although it's a bit overpriced for what it is. I don't have a good recommendation for a different case/cover. I usually just keep mine bare. If you're interested in an external keyboard, the Logitech Ultrathin is well regarded, but I haven't tried one myself. I've been able to get pretty fast on the on-screen keyboard in landscape mode, but it has obvious limitations for any extensive writing.
Don't forget you can also stream video from your PC to your iPad. Playing Civ 5 on the couch with iPad is a blast!
I'm not sure that the 4G will work in your country, so you will only get normal data speed.
Android! Go for Android! There is a very special modding community around android phones, something you won't get on apple. Also YOU can modify your android however you want, even install completely different version, whenever you want.

I am sorry I just recently bought android phone and I am amazed what people around androids do... Amazingly inventive, nice and helpful community you wont get around Apple.
We bought the iPad 2 with WiFi only and it works great for us. It gets more use than my desktop. 4G seems like a bit of a waste to me, but if you have the extra money for it, enjoy.

Also, if you're going to go with the retina display, keep in mind most websites with images will look fuzzy. The text will look amazing though. I don't our network providers are ready for everyone using retina displays since graphic files will have to be served at a higher resolution and will increase file sizes across the board.
I have a 1st generation iPad with 64GB, half full. You'll eventually run out of disk space so go to the max. Especially if you plan to shoot video with the new iPad.

95 % of the usage time goes for web surfing, the rest is gaming, reading books, drawing, making music, playing music. The thing usually sits on the kitchen table and has replaced my morning newspaper totally. Virtual keyboard takes some time to learn. I sometimes watch movies on this thing when on the road.

It is true what has been said, watch out for your wife/gf, if you have one, they are likely to snatch the device for their own use.
If you have a smartphone, with an internet flat and tethering, there is no need for the 3G thingie. I used my Ipad during a 14-day vacation along my smartphone providing the Wifi Hotspot. worked perfectly.
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