Tobold's Blog
Monday, August 06, 2012
iPad first impressions

I am typing this blog entry on the brand new iPad I bought today, using a wireless bluetooth keyboard. Interesting combination, for applications like Blogger this feels not much different than using a small laptop. So I decided to test this to write a blog entry with my first impressions.

Setting up the iPad and getting everything up and running was relatively painless. The only problem was getting save games from the iPod Touch to the iPad, which needed a special software called iExplorer and some fiddling. I also needed to tell iTunes not to update all apps automatically, so I could have one set of apps for the iPod Touch, and one set for the iPad. Several games and apps exist in a "HD" version for the iPad, which doesn't run on the iPod Touch.

Right now I am using the iPad with WiFi and USB cable. But I already got a SIM card for cellular network connection. And the good news is that it was free! Well, pseudo-free. I am already paying for the best internet connection I could buy (30 Mbps speed, unlimited download) plus digital TV and regular telephone from the same provider. And that bundle includes a 3G mobile internet connection with a monthly volume of 250 MB, which should be enough as long as I do the heavy downloads via WiFi and just use cellular for surfing and reading mails. I just had to go to the provider's store and pick up a free SIM card, which they told me will be activated at midnight.

I got a blue "Smart Case" with the iPad, which is looking good with the white border. I wasn't picky with the color of the iPad itself, and in the store all the black ones were sold out. The smart case cover can be folded back and serve as a stand in diferent angles, although the setup isn't terribly stable. I use the steeper angle with the wireless keyboard, while the flatter angle would be better for use with the on-screen keyboard. I heard that the flatter angle with the on-screen keyboard is preferable for taking notes in meetings etc., because it creates less of a barrier between you and the other participants of the meeting.

I already played some games that were only available on the iPad, like Titan HD and Small World (both board games adaptations for the iPad). I also transferred a lot of my D&D files to the iPad, and checked that I could read the various files with applications like FileApp and Goodreader. While FileApp was running on my iPod Touch as well, reading a PDF file on a small screen wasn't really feasible. On the iPad I can read those documents just fine, and surfing the internet is also a lot more pleasant.

The one application I wasn't happy with was the DMs Tracker for running combat in 4th edition. I tried it out but found my previous system with index cards to be more practical. And a few applications are surprisingly better on the iPod Touch, like the Tiny Tower game, whose pixelated graphics just don't look good on a high-res screen. But other than that I am very happy with my new iPad and consider it a big step up from the iPod Touch.

I have found the iplay4e website amazing for our 4e campaigns but that is from a player perspective.
You should know that just because you download the HD version on your iPad does not mean it will try and download it for your iPod too. In my experience, the system is "smart", meaning if you use the cloud system to keep your two devices synced, the device will download the appropriate app for its software. I do this with my iPad/iPhone all the time where I will download the HD version of an iPad app and the iPhone will automatically download the non-HD iPhone/iPod version without any prompt from me.
Unfortunately I bought the iPod version of the games first. For most games that means that I would have to pay again to get the HD version for the iPad as well. :( I guess, I'll play the low-res version instead.
iTunes will not try to sync iPad apps on your iPod. It only syncs the ones that are dedicated or universal, and has a setting that lets you sync non-iPad apps with the iPad if you don't mind running them in a small window.

Some fun titles to check out:

Autumn Dynasty - a well done Chinese themed RTS.

Conquest Medival Realms - turn based strategy.

Summoner Wars - card game, very fun and tactical, you can unlock all decks for a reasonable price.

New World colony - a turn based startegy game that plays a bit like a board game, one of my favorite games on the iPad.

Ascension - one of the best deckbuilding games, several expansion have already come out on the iPad.

Elder Sign - iPad version of the board game, very good if you like Lovecraft mythos.

I could keep going but I probably suggested too much already.
If you haven't tried Ticket to Ride yet, it may well be worth your time. It's a modern classic.

Regarding the regular (Touch)/HD (iPad) split, it seems to have been a transition phenomenon; most new games sport universal versions. Still, the auto-download feature can be a major annoyance if you have different habits on your different units. Particularly as you get more units across the family. I'm sure the Mother Company wants you to understand that everything is Personalâ„¢, but for the rest of us it is just annoying to have stuff sync across the fleet of i-Things. Fortunately, it's pretty straightforward to turn off!
I have an iPad 1 since it became available. I like it a lot and still use it regularly but found it to be too large and heavy to be considered really mobile...I usually only use it at home (wifi). I also have an iPod which on the other hand is too small imo for reading things (maybe an age thing though), that one is used primarily for music. On the road i now use the samsung note, which for me is the ideal format (weight and size) for mobile internet and reading ebooks. That fact that you look like an idiot when actually using it to call someone is something i can live with..
I used to have a 256 Mb allowance on my phone and I found I could do a surprising amount with it. One handy trick is to use the Opera Mini browser (now in App Store) when not on wifi. It has server side caching which divides your browser data usage by about three in my experience.
Congratulations with the new device!

I am not sure if this has already been fixed and if it is relevant to iPad 3, but there was a smart cover security flaw with iPad 2:

You may want to check this to be comfortable about security.
i absolutly hate my ipad for its lack of flash and general windows unfriendliness, but you might check "highborn" (fun) and wesnoth (elaborate), both fantasy wargames. So far, my ipad is used mostly by my daughter :-)
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