The big brown truck showed up Friday. My new iPad was on it. I had to sign for it twice, once using the standard UPS signature capture device, and once using a plain piece of paper. I asked the driver, “Why the extra security?” He said that he didn’t really know, but they were doing it with all of the iPad deliveries. He said that UPS got the contract for the new iPad deliveries this time instead of FedEx, who was Apple’s traditional delivery service, and he figured that UPS wanted to make doubly sure that no iPads went astray.
I apologize for the awkwardness of that first paragraph. It’s just what I dictated, with no subsequent prettying up. You see why I left it that way later on.
Before I get to the actual out of box experience, I should say something about terminology. The first iPad was just called the iPad by Apple. They called the second iPad the iPad 2. That left little room for confusion. However the new iPad is called the New iPad. The iPad 2 is still for sale; if you buy one, and tell your friends that you just bought a new iPad, they could easily be confused. It’ll get even worse when the next iPad is introduced; when people ask you if you have the new iPad, you won’t know if they’re asking you about the just-recently-shipping iPad Cougar, or the old iPad, whose official name is the New iPad.
In this post, I’m going to call the original iPad the iPad 1, the iPad 2 the iPad 2, and the New iPad the iPad 3.
A big part of the Apple out of box experience is the packaging, and the iPad 3 does not disappoint. The outer box is commendably small. Opening it reveals an inner box supported at both ends by ecologically correct cardboard brackets similar to those used to support bare disk drives in shipment. The inner box is made of substantial cardboard covered with Apple-white paper. Inside, wrapped in clear plastic, is the iPad. Underneath it, in a plastic tray, are the power adapter, the USB cord, a pair of cheap iPod headphones, a single page getting-started guide, a little pamphlet full of legal disclaimers, and a bent piece of wire you can use to pop the SIM card if you don’t have a paperclip handy. The plastic insert is glued to the bottom of the box, and is not embossed with recycling information.
Unwrapping the iPad is simple once you find the plastic tab on the back. There’s a similar tab that lets you get the plastic off the power cube. The ear buds and the cables are more conventionally wrapped in plastic. I wondered, why this plastic wrap? It certainly doesn’t enhance the customer experience. I suspect that the plastic wrapping is a manufacturing convenience, allowing Apple’s sources to safely move the various compliments around the factory and between factories. Removing the plastic before shipment would cost them money.
By the standards of most consumer device manufacturers, Apple continues to hit the packaging out of the park, but they’ve set such a high bar that people will notice what’s not absolutely perfect. The plastic tray could have easily been paper. The paper clip SIMM wire is just silly; it’s not a real tool with a handle and a stiff rod, it’s just the functional equivalent of what you’d have if you bent a paper clip into a similar shape.
I turned on the iPad, and went through the usual configuration screens before I got to the one that asked me if I wanted to set this up as a new device, or copy all of the settings, programs, and content from another iPad. Since I had been using an iPad 1, I said I wanted to bring its content over to the iPad 3, and chose to do that through iTunes rather than through iCloud.
The setup has come a long way from the iPad 1, which required a Mac or a PC to complete. Apple has figured out that, for many of their customers, the iPad will be their main, and perhaps only, computer.
The iTunes transfer of an iPad 1 backup to the iPad 3 took about half an hour. I fired up the new iPad, and noticed that, although almost of the programs had made the transition to the new machine, a few were missing. I downloaded new versions using the App Store.
I brought up the Kindle app, and found that all locally stored copies of my books were unreadable; I had to delete them all and re-download them from the Kindle cloud. Many passwords survived the transition to the iPad 3, but some did not; I reentered all of the ones that did not. One thing you ought to know: if you transfer your content from a backup of an old iPad, your new one will have the same name as the old one.
Wi-Fi hotspot passwords do not transfer over to the new machine. For the next few months, I will be reentering them manually.
The big problem came when I tried to get the Verizon cellular data working. At first, it went fine. I filled out the form, clicked submit, and things looked normal. I even got an email from Verizon confirming the signup. However, after ten or fifteen minutes I got a popup window from Verizon saying that there was a problem with my cellular data service. I tried to get into my account settings to find out what was going on, but I couldn’t. The error message windows gave me an 800 number to call, and I did just that.
The second or third thing I told the nice Verizon lady was that I don’t have direct Verizon coverage where I live, and that I was using a Verizon network extender — a box that hooks up to your local Ethernet and routes your telephone and data calls through your Internet connection, while acting as a low-power cellular tower to connect to your phones.
The Verizon tech had me go through the usual escalating sequence of power-cycling, warm resets, and removal and reseating of the SIM card. Nada. Finally, almost as an afterthought, she told me that contract-less data plans were incompatible with the Verizon network extender, and offered to let me talk to a person who could sign me up for a one or two year contract.
That sounded unnecessary to me. I don’t need access through my network extender when I’m home. It would be just an indirect way to connect my iPad to the same LAN that the network extender connects to. I told the Verizon tech that I’d take my iPad to Monterey and try to connect from there. She assured me that everything looked good on their end, and that that would work. Watch this space.
All in all, leaving out the Verizon connection, not a painful experience at all. It’s an order of magnitude simpler than setting up a replacement PC.
What’s the iPad 3 like?
The new screen is a marvel. I’m not sure that all that pixel density is necessary, and we’ll pay for it with longer download times and increased network charges for larger programs. video, and graphical data, but it sure is beautiful. In addition to doubling the resolution, Apple has increased the display’s color gamut, and everything looks richer. I’d say the iPad 3’s gamut is now pretty close to sRBG gamut – that’s not much to write home about if you’re talking high-end desktops, but it’s pretty darn good for under $1K portable devices which need to place a priority on long battery life. Also, when you use the iPad as a portfolio display device, it means that you don’t have to resort to addon color management solutions if you store your photos in sRGB.
The combination of the new processor and more memory makes things much smoother and more responsive than with my old iPad 1, and noticeably better than with iPad 2s I’ve used. Even navigating in the WSJ app is much more fluid. Definitely an improvement worth noting.
Some people were disappointed when we didn’t get Siri on the iPad 3. Not me. I’ve found that Siri on the iPhone 4s is a big tease. At first, she was like the dancing bear: you were so impressed to see it dancing that you didn’t criticize how well it danced. The natural time to use Siri is when you can’t use the glass keyboard. That’s when you’re outside or with a group of people. Unfortunately, Siri doesn’t do well in the presence of background noise. She’s almost as likely to respond to something someone else is saying than to what you’re saying. She also seems to have a tenuous hold on your location, even with GPS turned on, which leads to some bizarre responses when you’re looking for a nearby restaurant or gas station. Voice dictation is Apple’s olive branch to the people who wanted Siri on the iPad 3. It works similarly, offloading the heavy computational lifting to the cloud.
Unfortunately, if you’ve used voice dictation on the PC, in the form of the Dragon or even the built-in Windows 7 capability, you’re going to criticize how the iPad 3 dictation bear dances. First, it takes a looong time. You dictate a phrase (all voice dictation systems work best with complete sentences or at least complete phrases, because they can use context to help with the recognition). You wait a few seconds. You wait a few more. You think about something else. Finally, after what seems like an eternity, you see what the iPad thinks you said. It’s sometimes wrong, and you’ve lost your train of thought. Every minute or two, the dictation function turns itself off, possibly because it hasn’t heard from you while you’ve been waiting for it to recognize the last thing you said.
Remember that first paragraph? Here’s what the iPad 3 did with it.
The big brown truck showed up yesterday. My new iPad was on it. I had to sign for it twice, once using the standard UPS signature capture device, I’m once using they played visa paper. I asked the driver, “why the extra security?” He said that he didn’t really know, but they were doing it with all of the iPad delivers. He said that UPS have got the contract for the new iPad deliveries this time instead of at FedEx, who is Apple’s traditional delivery service, and he figured that UPS want to make doubly sure that no iPads it is Fred.
Here’s what Dragon Naturally Speaking 11.5 did with it.
The big brown truck showed up yesterday. My new iPad was on it. I had the sorting for it twice, once using the standard UPS signature capture device, and once using a plain piece of paper. I asked the driver, “why the extra security?” He said that he didn’t really know, but they were doing it with all of the iPad deliveries. He said that UPS got the contract for the new iPad deliveries this time instead of FedEx, who was Apple’s traditional delivery service, and he figured that UPS wanted to make doubly sure that no iPads went astray.
The increased resolution of the camera is nice, but it’s not enough to make me not want to carry a real camera. The iPad is big enough that it’s awkward to hold it far enough away to see the whole screen when you’re taking a picture with the rear-facing camera. Tripod mount and dark cloth to the rescue? The Photo Booth app, with its presets for distortions, is silly.
Because of my problems with Verizon and the lack of suitable local facilities, I didn’t try LTE.
The verdict (for photographers).
If you’ve got an iPad 1, this is a no-brainer upgrade. If you’re an iPad 2 owner and satisfied, wait for the next generation. If your iPad 2 is feeling pokey, power cycle it to reclaim RAM lost to memory leaks. If that doesn’t fix things, consider the 3. If you want better color than your iPad 2 can give you, there’s a good reason to upgrade. If you plan on doing a lot of photo editing on your tablet, there’s another reason to step up. Don’t upgrade for the dictation.