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I think I need a holiday!

Looking forward to a trip to the coast next week. Fingers crossed that the weather turns good.

My mini iPad review

3 min read

iPadI ordered an iPad when Apple had their Black Friday sale and to be honest I was not sure I really needed it or would actually like it. Remember that I ditched the iPhone for Android!

First impressions of the iPad were not good. It's heavy and the aluminium back make it cold to touch and without a case it can on occasion dig into your hands and give the impression of being sharp. However, these initial thoughts on the iPad's form factor was quickly squashed after using the device.

I have a 10" netbook which I have enjoyed using for two years. While it is a pain with some tasks, overall it has been £250 well spent and continues to serve a purpose today. How then can a £390 10" iPad compete with that?
To put it simply, it not only competes with, but out muscles the netbook on many levels. I have never been so taken with a device, even my first iPhone was not as compelling as this iPad.

After un-boxing, which is always a joy with Apple products, I fully charged the iPad and after a couple of hours synced it with iTunes and got all my apps (that I had previously used on my iPhone) on to the device.

Now I faced a dilema: I would now have two portable devices running similar (if not the same) apps, therefore did I really need the iPad?

Quick answer: YES! Immediately the device becomes second nature.

  • If I want to read the news headlines at breakfast, I reach for the iPad;
  • If I want to check twitter, I reach for the iPad;
  • If I want to check email, I reach for the iPad;
  • When I want to draft a blog post, I reach for the iPad;
  • I've got meetings at work, I load up the iPad with the relevant documents;
  • If I want to make edits or touch up photos, yes you guessed it, I reach for the iPad.

So what makes the iPad so compelling?

  1. The battery life is just awesome . It seems to last for days.
  2. Instant on. Just like your iPod, this thing is just in standby and as soon as you unlock the screen you're good to go.
  3. Screen. While not the retina display seen on the iPhone 4, the current iPad screen is still really good. NB not good in bright sunshine, but that's not an issue for me in Belfast!
  4. The speakers are surprisingly good e.g. handy for the bathroom or listening to in the holiday apartment.
  5. Built-in microphone. Seriously, skype has never been so easy. You can even do one way video.
  6. Apps - the app ecosystem on iOS is really good and there are plenty of good apps that utilise the iPad's full potential e.g. flipboard, filterstorm2.

I could really go on and on, but this is a mini review and after the above the iPad comes into its own when you discuss individual apps, which I plan to do at a later date.

Would I recommend one? Absolutely, but I'd wait until the next generation which should be announced in the next couple of months. Also keep in mind that Android 3.0 has been announced which looks to be a really cool tablet operating system and will give the iPad a run for its money.

Roaming charges – when will we revolt?

2 min read

I'm in the fortunate position of being on holdiay in France. A country which as part of the EU I could sign on, get free hospital treatment, buy a house or get a job. All because I am a citizen of the UK which is also part of the EU.

As an O2 customer I get data included in my tariff. O2 also provide me with access to thousands of wifi hotspots, for "free" yet O2 will charge me £3 per MB of data used because I'm on holiday (and none of those hotspots are outside the UK). If you want to participate in any online discussion while abroad you have to be prepared to stump up the cash as adding international data to your tariff is priced at £20 for 10MB and is a rolling fee.
That is a ridiculous position for any customer to be in. I'm fortunate becuase the apartment I've rented came with ADSL wifi included, and which sweetened the deal for me. (is broadband access as important as any other utility now?)

The EU have discussed roaming charges before and have made provisions to reduce the cost to the end user, but the reality is that this has not happened. If the adoption of smartphones continue to rise as predicted by many analysts, then consumers are going to demand to use their phones to access data while abroad, but at what cost? Will we see average Joe's returning from Spain with a phone bill of a few hundred pounds, just because they were updating their facebook profile with pics and short videos? Is that fair or is it an example of a multinational abusing their position in the market?

What do you think? Will you stop using your phone while on holiday or will you pay an extortionate fee? Or will you contact your operator and protest at the price point they have set for you to access data while roaming?