Since my review of the new iPad, I've revised some opinions and found a very useful free app to recommend.
Let's be clear; in no way am I going to tell you why you should have an iPad. If you think you need one, fine. If you can't see any use for the device, fine. I'm not out to persuade you differently. You can read my previous articles to find out why I value the iPad, but as for whether or not you should get one you're on your own. Now, on to the updates.
After thoroughly trashing the usability of the camera in the new iPad, I found myself using it on rare occasion. Consequently, I will raise its ergonomics rating from –273 to a more modest –100.
One of the least exotic of the dishes at Travail (halibut, sunchoke, roasted tomato and pearl onion). No tweaks, no adjustments, just cropped. Even with a splash of direct sunlight, awfully good exposure and color.
In April, my friend Beth Friedman and I were having our second dinner at the fabulous and surprisingly inexpensive molecular gastronomy restaurant, Travail, near Minneapolis. (If you don't know what molecular gastronomy is, Google it. I will not even try to explain.) We take notes when we order the tasters' dinner, because there's no way we will remember the wonderful and imaginative dishes we've been eating. I typed into Notability on the iPad and, in a flash of inspiration, decided to see if I could use the built-in camera to photograph some of the tapas-sized courses. It worked astoundingly well, even with highly uneven and very mixed lighting and white china. Two of the photographs are reproduced here, with nothing done to them save some cropping.
The built-in dictation feature has worked even better than I expected. I wrote and edited my entire column about printing for Ronny sitting in the car one evening while on a trip, using the iPad's dictation. If this ever becomes user customizable, it will be my favoritest program, ever.
On the minus side, the runtime/recharge time issues have been more of an aggravation than I thought they'd be. In the bright light circumstances where I'm likely to use my iPad, I rarely get to turn down the brightness much. Since that's the main determiner of run time, I rarely get anywhere near 10 hours usage; it's more like seven or eight, at best. When I'm using Google maps in an automobile, 20% of the battery life can get sucked away in an hour. I bought one of those little $10 cigarette lighter USB chargers so I could keep the iPad plugged in while driving.
Because the new battery pack has such long charge times and the iPad has such high power consumption, plugging it in for short periods of time doesn't get you much. The calculus is pretty straightforward: with the old iPad, one hour of plug-in time would buy you about three hours of run time. With the new iPad, it may only buy you a little more than one hour of runtime.
The bottom line is that you're going to run out of power more frequently and more inconveniently, and it's going to be harder to do anything about it.
I'm still pleased that I got the new iPad, but if longer runtimes and more convenient recharging is important to what you do, and you don't really need the new and improved features, you'd be better served by a new or secondhand iPad2.
An app that helps
Lastly, I found a nifty new app for printing. It started when Walgreens advertised the Canon iP2702 printer for $19.95. It seemed like as good an opportunity as any to replace our ancient DeskJet 970. Paula asked me, "If we get this, will I be able to use it to print from my iPad?"
After some research, the answer came up no. After some further research, though, I stumbled across Airprint Activator, a program for the Mac that lets you access any printer that's hooked up to your Mac as an Airprint printer. Currently it is free and fully enabled, although a donation would be much appreciated.
It works like a charm. I can print to not just the Canon but the Epson 3880 as well; heck, I could print to the 9800 if I had a reason to do so.
I sent the author $10. It was worth it.
Sadly, I don't own any iPad apps that are particularly smart about printing; they lack controls for paper size, type or print quality. That's not an Airprint problem; Airprint is just a way of getting data to the printer. The application still has to tell the printer what to do. Consequently, I have no control over formatting at this time and all I can get out is plain paper quality. But I can print with no hassle and no fuss.
Maybe I should be shopping around for a few smarter apps.
Ctein's weekly column appears on TOP on Wednesdays.
Note: Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site. More...
Original contents copyright 2012 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by -et-: "With your background, I suspect that I am about to mention something that you have already considered. However, we all have moments when we overlook the obvious, so I'll go ahead anyway.
"All of the 'standard' cigarette lighter adapter (CLA) chargers have a built-in limit of 0.5 amps current flow to a USB connection. The iPad needs (and can accept) a current flow of 2.1 amps to keep up with the power drain while operating. If the iPad is not operating, it will just charge more quickly with a 2.1 amp CLA than with a 0.5 amp CLA.
"There are CLAs that can provide this amperage, but you have to look for them carefully. (There are some CLAs with two USB outlets that deceptively claim to provide the amperage, but when you read closely you find that they provide this as a total amperage—but split between the two outlets. So read the fine print.)
"Additional misleading factors are that most of the USB outlets on computers are also limited to 0.5 amps charging current, and that all USB cables are not equal. The 'standard' cables will not tell the charger that it should provide more than 0.5 amps—even if it is capable of doing so.
"I do not have an iPad, but I do have a Nexus 7 that needs and can accept more than 0.5 amps. I looked at CLA options for some time. and ended up purchasing a TomTom Hi Speed Multi-Charger from Amazon for $20. It has been very satisfactory for me, but YMMV."