Tobold's Blog
Friday, October 25, 2013
Traveling with the iPad

I've been traveling a lot recently, and usually take my iPad with me. That turned out rather well, in spite of excessive European data roaming charges of up to 0.45€ per megabyte (used to be up to 1€) making the use of the 3G module nearly impossible. But it turns out that it is a good idea to have that 3G module anyway, because it comes with a GPS receiver (as opposed to guessing your location by the IP addresses of WiFi hotspots).  So if you are in a big city, you can usually find an app with an offline map for it, and then your iPad becomes a perfect city map: It doesn't just show you the map of the city, but also where you are and even which direction you are looking.

There are stll a lot of places that don't have free WiFi. Fortunately many games on the iPad work without an internet connection. And many media apps, from the Kindle app to the BBC iPlayer let you download content in advance, so you can read/watch it at the airport even without WiFi. And the battery life of an iPad beats a typical laptop by a huge margin. Not to mention how much less weight you lug around if your iPad is your laptop, your books, your magazines, your city maps, and your tour guides all at once.

Now I have an iPad 3, and Apple just announced the 5th generation called iPad Air. So I'm wondering whether I should upgrade, seeing how much I use it. Faster processor, lighter tablet, same battery life, sounds good to me. The only thing that annoys me is that I like to have a lot of memory: Currently 64 GB, and I'd go for a 128 GB model if available for the iPad Air. But Apple gives you only 16 GB in the base model, and then demands a full $100 more for just 16 GB more. If you compare that to the price of a 16 GB USB stick, Apple is clearly ripping us off here. There is a good reason why Apple makes it deliberately complicated to any form of external memory on an iPad, and doesn't allow you to just connect some USB stick to your device. People had some success with the camera connection kit, but that is rather limited for extending your iPads memory, and basically only works for photos and videos in the right format with strict naming conventions.

On the plus side the European Commission is working to make data roaming charges go away. They'll be lowered to 20 cents per MB in Europe in July 2014, and the commission is twisting arms to make them disappear completely. Once you have decent 3G everywhere, you can use more cloud storage and less physical storage. The future is looking bright for mobile computing. No wonder sales of standard PCs are down so much.

There are some services that mail you a local SIM for your destination country, but their pricing seems to be aimed at business travelers that must have that connectivity outside of their hotel.

I'm still on the fence on the upgrade. I too have an iPad 3, but I don't play games that much on it, so it feels fast enough as it is. I read a lot, so I could go for less weight, but that can't be the only reason to upgrade. I suppose it's just about finding the right killer app that would really benefit from those specs.
I always tethered the pad to my phone so got a wifi only model. I sold my pad (gen 3) at the end of last year and have been using galaxy note phablets since then.

I'm tempted by the 2014 Note 10.1 but would never waste money on an ipad or any other apple device again.
iPad Air 3G with 128GB $900 sells for $900. We can love Apple to death but that's not a steal, it's a rape.

I'd seriously start thinking the other way.

Think different. Really.
Depending on where you are, there may be ultracheap data-only prepaid SIM cards - in Germany it's like 15 euros for 20-30 GB data.
Hate to break the Apple haters bubble but at least in the US the 128gig IPad is the cheaper option.

I'm sure the speed and durability of the memory you have to use in a computer is a quite a bit more than the memory that gets used once in a blue moon to swap a few files around.

If I were in the same situation I'd stash the files on my laptop and take it with me, then swap files onto the IPad as needed.
If you happen to visit Italy, 3 (Tre) operator gives prepaid cards too. 8€ for 2GB.
I wouldn't even buy the ipad in the US.

2014 Note 10.1 with a memory card is a lot cheaper than the ipad (and much cheaper than the Note 10.1 in the UK) as some guys from my office are over there on business atm and are buying a couple!

I don't care much for memory though as I use dropbox with an all you can eat data tariff.

If I went abroad I'd only use Wifi and it wouldn't restrict me at all, swapping files over in the hotel each night is fine not that I'd ever have that much on it to fill it up especially with a cheap expansion card installed.

The Apple just isn't value for money and as a user I found it too restrictive and didn't give me the freedom I have with Android.

I did buy one for my parents retirement present though back in April as it is so simple and locked down. It was easy for complete novices (can't even use a PC) like them to pick up and not mess it up. Can't rate it highly enough for pensioners, they absolutely love it and rarely call me for help.

For anyone else it is too restrictive. My 7 year old nephew is like a whizzkid on his Nexus and would probably bump into restrictions on an ipad that would annoy him.
Not all memory is the same, just as not all MMO's are the same. Most people think of memory as "simple storage", how hard can that be? But in reality there are hundreds of complex factors which impact the performance of flash memory chips.

For example, look at this page measuring the speeds of USB flash drives:

On a similar note, my Windows7 PC had occasional blue screens which took me forever to debug (I upgraded and reinstalled the OS to no avail.) Finally, I replaced the RAM, and that fixed the problem. RAM is not Flash, but up until then I had never considered that memory could be faulty 0.0001% of the time. So my point is that memory comes in different qualities, at different price points.
Well, the poin is very simple. If you want value for money you do not buy an iPad. You buy it because you like it (aestethically) and can't live without all the Apple experience.

There is no other "real" reason to buy one.
Eh. Are we talking about storage space, rather than memory, aka RAM? Or are these terms interchangeable for Apple products? XD
An iPad only has 1 GB of RAM. The 16/32/64/128 GB we are talking about here are solid state storage space. So it is very much "the memory that gets used once in a blue moon to swap a few files around" and shouldn't cost $6 per GB.
Yes, this confused me too. To me, "memory" means RAM. What you're talking about is disk/storage space. I was initially wondering how you could possibly want more than 16 GB of RAM.

Nothing to contribute here, though; I've never used a mobile computer; never even owned a laptop.
I understand that.

My point still stands. Not all flash memory is the same, and the speed and reliability you would want for a hard drive is quite a bit more than what you'd want on a stick that gets used very rarely in comparison to the load on the hard drive of computer. Especially when space is a major concern.

I mean, it is Apple, so I'm sure they're making a healthy profit margin, when all the other tablets with the same memory cost as much or more than the IPad I'm going to conclude that your comparison isn't that solid.
I have an Asus Transformer pad.

It's a 64GB model which has a MicroSD card slot built in.

I also purchased the keyboard dock which further expands the storage (and other options) with a full size SD port and a USB port.
Hate to break the Apple haters bubble but at least in the US the 128gig IPad is the cheaper option.

Or you can, you know, buy a 64GB model that has superior specs along with a USB or SDcard port for 500-600$ and not have to worry about storage ever again?
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