Monday, 03 May 2010

On Friday evening last week I stood in line for about an hour along with a slew of geeks and even a few nerds at the Apple Store in Tigard, Oregon to get one of the first Apple iPad 3G models. There were about 35 or 40 people ahead of me in line, and a few more than that in line behind me by the time the 5pm release clock rolled around and the Apple staff came screaming down the hallway in the mall.

Within only 15 minutes I was already on my way back out the door of the store with a 64GB 3G model in a bag, and about $930 less in the bank (I got the AppleCare contract based on past experience). I picked up the model with the most storage simply because (again based on experience) I have tended to skimp in that area and have always come to regret the choice. So, this time I was all-in.

As I have mentioned before here, I use my iPhone for all sorts of things, but especially for aviation related tasks. Since the Foreflight aviation software for pilots was released in an iPad HD version in early April, I knew that was going to become my electronic flight bag. In fact, I might not have even bought an iPad at this point if it wasn't for Foreflight. I waited for the 3G model before buying because its built-in GPS can be used by Foreflight's maps and location-based information system. I'll write a Foreflight HD review soon. It's quite awesome, especially considering this is the first rev if the HD version. I can't wait to see what they improve and add over time. Check out http://www.foreflight.com for details.

After using it for a few days, though, there are lots more reasons I'm glad I made the jump and picked this thing up.

There are so many well-worn cliche statements about the iPad that people have used over the past month. Some of them are especially true, though. For example, reading and writing email on this thing is awesome. It's the way it should be.

Not everything is so perfect in iPad land, though. I wrote this blog post in a program (BlogPress) that is available in a HD version that uses the full iPad screen space, but it won't publish to my site. I guess the metaweblog API isn't good enough for it. :) Unfortunately it appears a good, solid, full featured blog authoring app is a pretty serious gap in the bazillions of apps available on the App Store. There's an opportunity just waiting for someone to tackle it.

The 3G radio, as one pretty much has to expect, pulls down the charge on the battery faster than the iPad model that's just wifi. Of course, you can turn 3G and wifi off and on as you like, independently. How much battery power is actually used with a 3G connection seems to be dependent -- and this makes logical sense -- on the distance from the cell towers and the relative transmit power needed to make the radio connections. Id imagine its also dependent on the type of connection and the frequency band in use on a given tower. Common sense applies to battery life just like any other device. On both models backlight brightness also contributes to batty life, of course.

I've started searching for a high-output car charger, since the iPad needs more than the typical iPhone charger puts out. Kensington and a couple other companies are making a 2.1-watt charger that will allow the iPad to charge in the car in a reasonable amount of time, so I will be picking up one of those soon.

A few of my favorite other apps that have a place on my home screen page:

I set up and tried the AT&T navigator turn by turn software that I already had running on my iPhone. Even though its not iPad screen optimized and I have to use the zoom resized to go full screen, it works great and even better than on the iPhone 3G. The iPad has much louder and clearer voice navigation (and music sound for that matter) and the GPS is fast and more accurate. It just runs better overall. The iPad is a terrific GPS device it seems. Time for some custom iPad dash mounts. Do a YouTube search and you'll see a couple.

I've started using one iPhone app again that I'd let languish for some time because again its just better on the iPad even though you have to zoom it to use the full screen: BeeJive Instant Messenger. The extra real estate and bigger typing surface is great. I hope they release a HD iPad version soon.

The Safari browser on the iPad is awesome and almost so second nature I forgot to mention it. I did notice though that some sites optimized to work with iPhone are a little weird in the iPad browser. Google Voice is a good example (for both the mobile and standard interfaces especially when it comes to the voice mail playback areas of the interface).

Netflix for the iPad is pure genius, and as more flicks are released for streaming it just keeps getting more and more worthwhile. Hulu needs to get their iPad act together now, for real. The ABC video app is cool and now it plays over 3G with a new update, too. (updated) word is they will be updating it so you can play video over the 3G. Right now ABC's app only streams over wifi.

My favorite game so far is FlightControl HD, a top-down view map game where you land airplanes and helicopters and keep them from crashing into each other. Relatively simple, pure genius. Addictive stuff. I haven't tried many other games just because I'm not a huge gamer. Some of the driving games sure look fun though.

The Weather Channel HD app is also really slick. Lots of great info there, in a well-used piece of screen real estate.

There are others, as well but that gives you an idea. I'll write more at a later time.

Anyone else got a list of killer apps for iPad 3G I should be sure to check out?



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