iPad 3 Woes: Where Is The Practicality?

Geek Culture
The New iPad © Apple
The New iPad © Apple

I’m afraid I may receive some hate for this post, but I am in desperate need for some insight and some help. I, like a few others here at GeekMom, stepped into the world of the iPad with the release of Apple’s third generation tablet. I also had my own expectations as, three weeks ago, I anticipated the arrival of my iPad 3. However, my expectations were different in that I was hoping that it would offer more practical work applications. That is where my priority lies; with practical applications, and not with the great entertainment and toy factor.

I suppose before I start listing my woes and ask for your suggestions, I should list some of the things I really like about having an iPad.

I like that the built-in sound is much better than the built-in sound of my laptop. I have to spend a good amount of time listening to music, and it makes that experience much better. I like that when I have time to take a quick 15 minute break from the mountain of work that is always in my face, a bunch of Draw Something games are waiting for me to spend some mindless fun with. I like that when I’m watching something, I can check and respond to Twitter without interrupting my viewing–my laptop serves as the source of all my movie and television viewing.

When my partner finally receives his iPad next week, we are looking forward to being able to share media from our respective laptops with greater ease. We are also looking forward to the fact that all apps will be shared and we don’t have to pay for them more than once.

My boys are happy with the iPad, but only because it allows them to use my Kobo Vox.

It is a fun toy. Unfortunately, that is all that it is. I value practicality over entertainment value. And if more money is spent on a tablet than was spent purchasing my laptop, there better be good practical value. I’m satisfied with the entertainment value of this toy. I’m extremely dissatisfied with the iPad 3 due to the severe lack of practicality.

Outside of monitoring chat during my radio shows, and reviewing apps for my Geeky Pleasures website, I’ve been unable to discover any practical use for it. For years, I’ve heard people go on and on about all these nifty ways they’ve been able to integrate the iPad into their work day. For me, these nifty ways are the stuff of myth and legend.

To top this all off, I become really incensed when I’m listening to music, decide I want to play a game that I have to review, only for the iPad to decide that it can’t do both at the same time–something I’ve become quite accustomed to doing on my laptop. Or, if I put the music away after finally begin to play the game. a push notification will come through, causing the game to close, only for me to have start over. Don’t even get me started about the fact music stops playing if I unplug my earbuds. And then there is the whole, my-eyeballs-are-going-to-fall-out-of-my-face-after-they-are-seared-to-death whenever I attempt to read anything on it for more than 15 minutes. It will never be an eReader of any sort for me, unless I have absolutely no choice because that is all a publisher is able to give me in the way of an ARC.

I can’t use the iPad to update my website because of the amount of media that goes into most posts. I can’t use it to check my e-mail because of the amount of e-mail addresses that I have, and the amount of media assets that I receive on any given day. I can’t use the calendar or apps like Evernote, because that would be redundant as I use Thunderbird with Lightning, and anything with a unified inbox would make it impossible for me to manage my jobs and e-mail addresses.

I’ve had people tell me they find the iPad useful for when they are away from the home because it allows them to keep up-to-date with different things. When I’m away from the house, I unplug. I purposely avoid the internet or anything that may interrupt the few glorious moments where the world isn’t tweeting me, e-mailing me, messaging me, vying for my attention, around the clock.

If I sound grumpy, that’s probably because that is exactly my mood at this very moment. I so want to love the iPad. I want to understand why it is that this piece of technology gives so many people geekgasms. At the moment, I am barely satisfied with my iPad experience. This is simply due to the lack of practical function. If I were to rate it based solely on entertainment factor, I would be satisfied, despite the fact the iPad cost quite a bit more than my laptop and will never meet the entertainment value of my laptop.

Unfortunately, I need more than that. Things must be practical if I’m ever going to be able to justify the cost and be satisfied with it.

So, please help me, geeks who have experienced the myth and legend that is iPad practicality. Tell me your secrets! You’re my only hope!


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11 thoughts on “iPad 3 Woes: Where Is The Practicality?

  1. Really? It still can’t multitask? Android always has…

    I chose android for my phone (and tablets and such) because I used gmail, google calendar, google docs, etc. so everything i usually use was native. For an iPad, it’s going to be more useful for people who use a lot of Apple apps already.

    1. Yeah, that was one thing that made me quite sad. The things that I’m finding frustrating, I can do on my Kobo Vox without a problem.

  2. Our family has been contemplating an iPad since it first hit the shelves. We came very close when my husband had some online military classwork to do, but it turned out part of the course required Flash (Rosetta Stone). So we’re glad we didn’t put down the money, instead we got a WiFi hotspot for our MacBook and have been fine.

    We still don’t have any tablets in our house — two iPhones, an iPod and two MacBooks…so we are definitely an Apple household, but not quite ready for the iPad.

  3. I am a graduate student (with my first baby on the way in November, oy vey) and I got an iPad at the start of this past semester after contemplating it for the last two. I have loved it. But I pretty much use it exclusively for reading and organizing PDFs. I read a lot of academic articles and I like to have the 8 or 9 articles we are going to talk about in class with me. However, they start to get heavy after a while. I would even find myself taking stacks of articles places whenever I traveled. Now, I load everything on to my iPad using dropbox. Then I have an annotation app so I can highlight things, make notes in the margins, etc. Then when I am in class I can have my ipad to my left to go through articles and I can take notes on my laptop. It has made traveling so much easier. I am still getting used to writing papers using the iPad, which is still a transition, but it is getting better. I tried really hard to convince myself to buy a different tablet (I was eying the Samsung 10.1 galaxy tab), but they are sort of off ratio when you are used to reading papers that are 8.5×11. The ipad has the same (or at least a close enough) aspect ratio that it really is the same.

    Though far be it from me not to admit that Draw Something and facebook are long time frenemies of my working… But they were there before I had the iPad, so I don’t think the tablet is totally to blame

  4. It is the game that is canceling your music (I just listened to several songs while playing doodle jump, angry birds, super 7, etc. and the music plays right along). Some games want to use their own soundtrack I guess.

    Notifications in iOS 5 should not cause a well-written game to close (unless you choose to open the notifying app— in which case you can just go back to the game afterwards: double click the home button and there’s your game in the multitasking drawer)

    Pause when unplugging is considered a feature. I don’t think you can disable that (useful to me, as it pauses my music when I get out of the car, but I can understand that you may not like it) Remember that music controls are available by double click home as well (scroll left).

    Don’t understand your email issue (you can choose to only look at some accounts; if you use Mail.app on the Mac it is just about the same thing; large attachments are not actually downloaded to iPad unless you request it). The inbox is not NECESSARILY unified–you are free to view accounts individually also. You might want to attend some of the free Apple Store training sessions or set up a one-on-one session to see all this in person.

    Reading: if you are not reading in iBooks you may have to wait for updates, not all the e-readers have updated to use the iPad 3 display. You should not be able to detect any blurriness in the text. Many magazines do NOT actually give you the text, but images, and are blurry (e.g. Conde-Nast pubs, New Yorker, etc.) so these are hard to read even with new Retina display.

    Calendars: our family uses the iCloud calendaring to sync across all iPhones and laptops (also works with Google calendar) so not sure how to help there (beside the unhelpful “move to iCal”).

    My work uses: taking notes (I use U-pad, but there are many note taking apps). Marking up PDFs of student papers. Light editing of text (Pages) and slides (Keynote): I do not do much writing as I don’t have a bluetooth keyboard, just touchups.

    Other non-game uses: My parents (in their 70’s) use theirs when on vacation to send emails to us and pictures and skype/facetime. Wife sometimes uses it as secondary map when navigating (we have Navigon as well as the built-in Google Maps, and several hiking map apps. Also good for stargazing with the kids, ID birds and trees on hikes (with appropriate apps). Works as a remote for our Verizon Fios, Tivo, and Apple TV systems. The kids edit video on it, including stop=motion stuff, but maybe that’s more like a game (to them :-). Good for recipes (e.g. the epicurious app in the kitchen).

    1. So much info here! I’ll try my best to respond to all your clarification and make some elaborations.

      1) The games cancelling the music doesn’t happen on “light” games (Angry Birds, Draw Something, etc.). It happens on the “heavy” games, ones that are very close to what you’d play on a PC and use close to half a gig of memory for storage. It is also with these games only, not the “light” ones that notifications cause to close the game, even if I click on “ignore”. These games are also specifically for the iPad 3. I’m having to remember to turn off push notifications before I play them which is a bit of a bother.

      2) E-mail: If I were to set-up the iPad to check my mail, then I’d have to check it twice. Once on the iPad to see I have mail, then again in Thunderbird so that I can deal with the zip file attachments and organise all of the assets or, in a lot of cases, edit the assets before they are included. Checking work e-mail on the iPad adds an extra step, creating more work and time. It doesn’t simplify or streamline that aspect of my job.

      I don’t have a Mac, so the Mail.app thing is not relevant here. However, someone reading this will hopefully benefit from that knowledge!

      And the Apple store session is a great idea, if we had one.

      3) Reading: I use the Kobo app and Kindle app. Both have been updated for retinal display. I have the same issue reading on my computer as well. It hurts my eyes and gives me a headache, even after decreasing the brightness, putting the background to sepia, and increasing the font size. And I don’t read magazines. Most of my reading are books that I’m reviewing.

      4) I have no need to sync my calendar. It is only for my use. I don’t use Google Calendar. For both e-mail and calendar, I use Thunderbird with the Lightning extension. As I spend at least 1/4 of my day in e-mail, having it all in one window is quite convenient.

      I know the iPad will never replace my laptop. It simply can’t, not with the type of work I do. I should also add that I like that I can monitor my servers on it. It is one less thing to have open on my laptop. Being able to access my remote desktop is also beneficial.

      I’m just hoping that I can find a few more work applications for it, freeing me from being tied to my laptop 16 hours a day. Even with the few work things it has been able to take over, I still have to be at my laptop whilst using the iPad.

  5. You have discovered the flaw in one-size-fits-all. There is much one can do with a iPad, but only if, as you have discovered there is an app for what you. But this is true of all computers. I go crazy using Windows and Macs not because they are ugly or unusable, but because after nearly a decade using Linux as my primary OS I have become used to the graphics and music apps I get (for free I might add) which are not available for WinMac. And these apps are not available for iPad either. So why do I have one? Because it is very good at what it DOES do. Social media, web, email, reading (I do not have the issues you have with reading), news. I love my subscriptions to NatlGeo and Smithsonian and how they are reworked to be interactive. You buy a device because of what it is capable of right?

    1. Yes, you do buy a device because of what it is capable of. The issue is, I’m still trying to figure out what exactly that is outside of entertainment, especially in light of hearing people say for years that they’ve found it to be also practical.

      1. You sem to be using a very broad definition and low valuation of entertainment, along with a very specific and personal definition of “practical.”

        As an hypothetical edge-case, I’d say there’s real productive value in my iPad fit’s only function was to isolate “entertainment tasks,” from pinball to Twitter, away from my laptop. In that situation, even with a strongly negative “practical use” score the iPad would have improved my work life by allowing me much better focus and productivity everywhere else.

        That’s not my real life, of course. But my experience using the iPad2 for a year has been broadly positive. I use it for email and only rarely feel the lack of file management tools. I read books using Kindle and iBooks and my eyes don’t hurt. I play a lot of games, but often with the sound at negligible levels or off. I enjoy writing in IA writer, but will always choose a physical keyboard if I have one available.

        I’m not implying that your negative experiences are less valid than my nominally positive ones.

        My best iPad experiences have come out of situations where I’m using it a context where I didn’t/couldn’t use my laptop, rather than when I’m trying to replace my laptop. Those kinds of situations happen too, but they’re generally just OK. My impression of the device overall is buoyed by those unique moments, where it sits up on the table between my wife and I as we tap through a board game, or when it joins the toddler rock band as drum machine.

  6. Another reason why I love my nookcolor ! Yep it doesn’t have the 3G, but that just means I don’t have to pay for a data plan for it. And it doesn’t have a camera but that’s what my phone and my REAL camera are for. It cost 1/2 to 1/3 what an ipad costs and there is an app for word, pdfs , etc. There’s even an office suite app. It’s got flash. I can get on the internet with it , I’ve got a twitter and facebook app. I’ve got angry birds, a piano app, math games for the kids, pandora for endless music ,Netflix , and it’s got a micro SD slot so I can expand the memory if I need to. I just don’t have to work everything through itunes ( oh darn) . And I have access to over 1.8 million free books . Did I already say I love my Nook? Cause I LOVE my Nookcolor.

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