Saturday, March 17, 2012

Rant: Why I am holding out on "The new" iPad

I remember months, and I mean like sometime October last year, wifey has been inquiring me whether I plan to get an "iPad 3". Not that she used it often, she actually use it only to play Doodle Jump and that's like about once or twice a month at most. However, she noticed I have been carrying it every time we'll go on lunch outside or getting a long drive. It's because iPad is easy for the kids to use (no mouse, power cord, small enough) while I normally use my Samsung Galaxy Mini Android Phone for music. Anyway, the way I have been reading into the rumors is that, iPad 3 is going to be a killer device. But I already burned myself once when I got iPad 1 and was severely underwhelmed.

That experience also pushed me back getting an iPad 2. I just can't justify getting a companion device just because it looks pretty (white color), has nice features (FaceTime, Cameras) and better specs (Dual Core CPU, 512MB ram). Sure, the iDevice has long improved and those I loathe the most seems fixed by recent iOS developments such as clunky syncing/updating of Apps (now it can be done wirelessly like Android devices), stupid notifications (again, like Android, notification messages can be accessed and "queues" up), and non-easy access to stored files (now, Apple allows accessing "Photo" folder, still not the full access but acceptable). Through the years, iPad has actually improved a lot, and wifey hears me complain less and less about the device. And as such, when she pressed if I would like to get one, I thought about what I wanted for an iPad to have to make me "want" it. I gave two answers:

  1. Better Display, 1080p capable and can play HD videos
  2. Better Battery Life, 10hrs - 12hrs heavy usage (think travel without time to charge, without extra batteries)
So imagine when I read the launch news. Seems like my "wants" are fulfilled, very simple. However, there's just something that holds me back. At first, I can't really recall why I am reluctant. After all, the kinks I hated have been fixed. But as I re-analyze my usage model, and what I need, turns out "The new iPad" is just not what I really need, not even wanted. Let me share a quick table for comparison:

What I really want is for "The new" iPad to be able to play 1080p movies - checked. Battery life to be improved - partially checked. But I also like "The new" iPad to have HotSpot, checked. I know the limitation of HotSpot to Verizon only, but still, "The new" iPad has it so it's checked. 

Then I also wanted for "The new" iPad to have better stereo speakers (not checked), better PC support, that is, I can transfer files easily without iTunes (not checked), and App multi-tasking.

That last part is a deal breaker for me. While I can live with limited PC access and mono speakers, the lack of multitasking is what I can't accept. If "The new" iPad is the same as the iPad 1 because they ran the same OS, even if "The new" iPad has better hardware, it just didn't cut it for me. I don't use the iPad as my primary device, and that's because of this lacking capability. If I wanted to check something with a browser, I have to "minimize" the currently running application and open the browser. Or say, if I wanted to use "The new" iPad as media player beaming movies to my bigger display thru the HDMI connector, I still can't use the device because as soon as I try a different application, it will cancel out what's being displayed on the screen. 

Sure, iOS 4.2 (or probably later iteration) did indeed introduced some sort of multi-tasking, but from the way I used it, it's just suspending the application and not really multitasking. I know the "music" continues to play even when doing other things on iPad, and that's what I wanted it to do. Background application running still. Why would I want that? For example, I opened up YouTube either thru Safari or with the built-in App and watching/listening to something. Then I need to check something because I find something interesting on the YouTube. Now instead of the music/video continuously playing, as soon as I go on another browser tab, the YouTube becomes suspended *ugh*...

I know the RAM is pretty limited, but heck, I can multi-task much better with my Intel Pentium 4 way back when so RAM is really not an excuse. If anything, the CPU and the OS accounts for such limitation. Apple has provided a stable OS, but one that is not flexible enough for my usage.

"The new" iPad offers great improvements over the previous versions, and that's a great feat. However, as great as they come, my old iPad will still serve me well. I know that the display alone is enough to overshadow the older iPad, but if I think like a developer, I won't target "The new" iPad when making a new apps. This will leave a lot of potential buyers out if developers only target "The new" iPad market, and that's not good missing out on millions of iPad 1 owners. Considering iPad 2 shares the same screen resolution as iPad 1, developers should think about supporting this resolution.

In time, iPad 1 will cease to be supported, but as long as Apple continue to provide iOS updates to it, developers should still consider providing support to iPad 1. If anything, "The new" iPad provided developers a greater challenge much like when iPad 1 launch for the first time, and much like when iPhone 4/Retina were introduced: backwards compatibility.

If I have to predict, iPad 1 will continually be supported until the next generation of iPad 4 is released next year. By then, the hardware gap might be too stretched out (i.e. quad core CPU, quad core GPU, 2GB RAM) and newer applications that wants to harness those capability will only run on at least iPad 2 (and heaven forbid, iPad 3)....

So there, I'll skip getting "The new" iPad, unless I have spare money, my iPad 1 got lost/stolen/broken, or I got really bored and have nothing else to do. But till then, I am on the lookout for a Windows 8 x86 tablet and PC. This might be post PC era, but that doesn't mean PC's dead, there's just more tablet running around everywhere than it used to be....

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