Tag Archives: iPhone

iPad thoughts.

Just a few iPad thoughts.

When the original iPad first came out I was not too impressed with it. No flash support, no USB, a screen with a ratio 4:3 rather than 16:9… and so on. Then after a while I thought about it and wondered if I wasn’t expecting too much from the device (it’s only a tablet after all) and swung around in favour of it.

This was to change again after I spent time playing with them in my local Apple Store. I found the square edges made holding it for any length of time uncomfortable, missed having a ‘real’ keyboard, it was over priced. My iPhone did most things I wanted a portable device to do, and I have a small net book if I want portable computing.

Then the iPad 2 came out and that gave me second thoughts. It was lighter and the relatively sharp square edges has been rounded off. An improved graphics processor and dual core main processor were there and they had not bumped up the price for the new model. They had also added rear and front facing cameras. (I am a great believer in that if you want to take a decent picture then use a proper camera, however a basic camera is still better than no camera, and using the iPad version of iMovie you can do okay video editing on the device.)

Now, I tend to be someone who will be happy enough to spend time thinking about things, nothing like a good bit of procrastination when you’re not quite sure of something. Maybe this or maybe that, but on the other hand….why not pour yourself another cup of tea. However once the decision has actually been made then I like to carry out that decision immediately. No hesitation, no delay, but *right now*.

So there I was in a local coffee shop with a friend and it was going to be a busy day so I had not brought my lap top with me. However he got out his (original model) iPad and was immediately being ‘computer productive’. That was it, that was the final action that made me go from ‘I’d like one but…’ to ‘It’s genuinely useful, I want one’. Five minutes later we were heading up towards the local Apple Store, and ten minutes later I was the proud owner of a base model iPad 2.

I like it. Where before I thought it too big compared to a phone, too small compared to a ‘proper’ computer, now I see it as nicely filling that gap. A screen big enough to be genuinely useful size, (great BBC iPlayer device) but not so large as to dent its portability. It can be carried around in almost any sort of case or ruck sack and has a decent battery life (so no need to be constantly carrying its charger). It can do about 80% of what I’d want from a full computer, but then on that odd occasion when I *really need* that bit of extra use I can always take my lap top with me. In numeric terms its screen resolution may now be bettered by other devices, but it is still a very nice screen to use. Its virtual keyboard I found unexpectedly pleasant (either one or two handed) and have made less errors using this virtual one than I usually do when using a physical one.

I do miss not having a USB port for for file and data back-up, and I wish a USB port was there for battery charging. The other thing I find a bit irritating is that the screen is too reflective, so I must look out for a screen protector for it to cut this down a bit.

So overall I’ll give it a definite Thumbs Up. A device I see not competing against, but complimenting one’s other computing devices.

New phone – update

Getting used to finger scrolling, but it’s not up to iPhone quality. A bigger screen, not so much for improved viewing area, but to give more room for finger swiping could have improved things. It’s just not good at reliably differentiating between Finger Moving, and Finger Selecting on the screen. Using its built-in stylus as a touch device gets it working soooo much better, but then that defeats the objective of the finger-compatible screen.

Worked the battery through a few full charge followed by full discharge cycles. If I avoid the seriously heavy power users like CoPilot, but still doing general stuff and have it checking my e-mail every now and again, then a couple of days out of the battery. However although I’ve set it to check my e-mail every 30 minutes, it’s not doing that properly.

Still not impressed with CoPilot. Changing its settings to ‘Walking’ has helped the screen updating while wandering around, but despite being set to Walking it really wants to lock you onto roads. This is such that if you are walking through a park it will track you through the park while you are moving. About 2 seconds after you stop moving, regardless how far you are from a road, it jumps to a road. Not necessarily the nearest road, though it usually is. At one time my nearest set of roads were on the other side of a large river, so when I stopped that’s where it said I was – amazing!!! I’d jumped across a river without getting wet!!! A few seconds after I started moving again it put me back into the park – until I stopped again!
Also once it has put you onto a road, it does not want to leave that road, even if it’s the wrong road – as in where there may be two or three roads all close together.
There’s a few other niggles in the way it updates things like speed and direction.
The first phone I got with sat-nav on it I got about 4 years ago, and despite its age its sat-nav (Garmin-powered) pisses all over this.
Overall this really is a bit of a gimmick, a bit toytownish, CP not so much standing for CoPilot, but Crap Product.

The camera’s O.K. for your head & shoulders or couple of friends filling the screen, but the focusing (still picture or video) is crap at long distance stuff. I must see if there is some way of turning off the auto-focusing when trying to photograph general scenery.

When playing with the sat-nav I spent 10 minutes walking across a park, then 10 minutes walking back. That 20 minutes took the battery down from ‘half-full’ to ‘low battery warning’, the phone’s about to die level.

It’s works very well as a modem for my lap-top. My old HTC required to you open a connection box on the lap-top to ‘dial out’, but this is much simpler. Tell the phone I want to ‘Connect’ – as in use it as a modem – and then plug in the USB cable, and it just seems to work. (I’ve not tried it wilt Bluetooth.)
It’s also more reliable. My old system had a habit of the phone disconnecting if it went off to do something else like a scheduled routine e-mail check, or even receive a text message. This one stays connected.

Ha!!! I’ve just noticed some network traffic going up and down on its data monitor and it’s just alerted me to a new e-mail message. This message I know was sent at 13:44 and I know it got to my account at 13:45. It’s now 16:25, that’s nearly 3 hours – for a supposed check every 30 minutes (and yes, I have been in a good signal strength area for the last few hours).

More later.

New phone

Got a new toy – HTC Diamond. (T-Mobile MDA Compact IV). First impressions were a bit disappointing. But then in reality had perhaps over-high expectations, so overall, neutral.

No instruction manual! So I know everyone is trying to save every penny they can in production costs, but this is quite a complex bit of kit, and an expensive one too. For something of this price, relying on the user to print off their own copy from the CD is really not good enough.

Poor menu layout and navigation. On my older HTC phone, when I selected the battery icon, the battery meter appeared. On this new phone a sub-menu appears and from that you then get to the battery display. So many other things are now (unnecessarily) one or two menu-levels deeper than previously, and much harder to find.

Clear high resolution screen, shame it could not have been physically larger. (The button area below the screen could have been smaller and still perfectly workable.) Too often when swiping your finger across the screen to shift the display it thinks you want to actually select an icon. This is really annoying when trying to scroll through a long list of items, say your contact list. Sometimes this scrolling can be fast and continuous, but when you touch the screen wanting to stop the scrolling it will then immediately jump to the name that happened to be closest to your finger.

The phone is sensitive to whether you are holding it in Landscape or Portrait and the display switches accordingly, sometimes, depending on which program is running, and it can take a few seconds to switch by which time you’ve moved the phone back to its original position…. It can get confused if you have it lying flat on a desk.

The main ‘Settings’ display seems to be text only, scroll sideways to the ‘Programs’ display and that’s all icons. No consistency. You can select ‘All Programs’ which gives a list (mix of icons and names). As with the Contacts list, if you try to use your finger to scroll through the programs, it scrolls such that it runs through a whole mass of program selections, usually over-shooting the one you want. If you move your finger slowly to make it scroll slowly, then it decides you want to actually select all the programs you’ve moved your finger over and starts them! A bit crap.

I’ve been using the stylus rather than my finger more and more, which is rather against the whole idea of this sort of touch screen.

I’ve set the Mail to check a couple of my e-mail accounts every 15 minutes. It’s definitely not doing that. There’s often a couple of hours delay before it alerts me to the fact that there’s new mail there.

Mine has Google maps built in. I find this one of the more useful (and fun) things. Seems to work well. The Search found all the different post-codes I put into it. When searching by street name, then you need to do street name, town name, rather than just street name for it to work well. It has a ‘My Location’ function which tries to find your present location using the mobile phone signals. Not particularly accurate, but gets you to the general area.

I tried the Copilot sat-nav program. Very *Not Impressed*. It finds where I an with reasonable accuracy (but not as good as my Garmin Quest). However once I start walking around a small text display at the bottom of the screen updates, so I know the system’s working, but the main map display does not follow my movements. If I do something that forces the main screen to re-display, then the map updates, but not otherwise. The display options are crap too. It tries to make things too fancy (even in its 2-D mode). I’d much rather have a plain simple 2-D map, clutter-free, that moves with me and actually reflected where I was. This is NOT a substitute for even the most basic stand-alone sat-nav device. I can see its main use as a function to quickly flatten the battery – this I can see a use for as I’d much rather do a good lenghty charge on a flat battery than top-up a half charged one.

The camera seems O.K. (no flash) and the video also works O.K., assuming you just want basic ‘show your mates’ happy snaps. If you want nice pictures, buy a proper camera.

The FM radio’s useful, I’ve not played with the MP3 music side of things (yet).

It has the Opera browser built-in. That does work well, especially considering the small size of screen it’s got to work with. I see under All Programs, there is Internet Explorer. I don’t think I’m even going to bother to try it, more than happy to stick with Opera. The phone also does YouTube videos O.K.

If you’re going to use this phone even half-aggressively then you’ll be lucky to get a full day out of the battery. I may get a spare battery to carry with it, but to start with I will have to carry an old phone around with me so if it’s battery does fail I can shift the SIM into the other phone.

A phone for geeks – yes.

A phone for the general masses – no.

Will update as I get used to using it.