The New iPad- Is It For You?

19 04 2012

Recently I have reached a milestone. Last month, I celebrated turning 40. What better way to celebrate than buying oneself the new iPad. Of course I have my son, husband, in-laws and grandmother to thank for contributing to the cause.

Happy birthday to me....

Initially, I was not going to buy it. I was perfectly happy with the district-issued iPad 2 I was using for evaluations and testing apps. I loved the size, the camera was okay -though not as great as my iPhone 4’s camera. It did what I needed it to do, and can do what I need it to do for the students that I work with. I could customize work easily, record video, use apps and existing content. With  the addition of PaperPort Notes, dictation was all set.

However, after seeing the new iPad in person, I wanted one. I opted for a white 32 GB wi-fi model. I don’t need 3 or 4 G as I’m not planning on using it in my car, or in a jungle somewhere. Why did I want a new iPad over the iPad 2?  Here are a few reasons:

1. The display

2. The camera

3. Built-in dictation

4. The design

I ordered my new iPad and anxiously awaited its arrival. Of course, setup and configuration was a snap as usual with any iOS device. The same Accessibility features that I love on the iPad2 are the same on the new iPad. Once I had it set, I had to play.

What I first noticed was the display. It almost looks 3D to me. It’s vibrant, crisp, and super sharp even at close range. There is not as much pixelation as there is in older iPads. To illustrate, I’ve taken a couple of pictures.

The picture on the left hand side is of the Messaging app on the iPad 2. I got as close as possible with my iPhone camera without blurring the image, however, it does. It doesn’t look too bad, right?

That is until you look at the same icon on the new iPad. Note that the app icon is more vibrant all around. There isn’t as much blurring as there is in the ipad2 image with the same distance.

Apple touts the new iPad as having 4 times as more pixels than the iPad2. The retina display is amazing.

This may not matter to the average user, but from an Assistive Technology standpoint, it’s huge. This better display affords me to assess students with low vision or scanning issues and compare with better accuracy. Content can be even closer than before without as much of a chance of it blurring. Exciting!

The next task was to test the camera. I love to take pictures. I’m an Instagram-a-holic when it comes to my phone. I like using the iPad2 camera for taking pictures of existing content for a student and using it in a different way. So, I had to test the new iPad camera out.

The first image was taken with an iPad2. The image on the right was taken with the new iPad with its 5 megapixel iSight camera.

There is a discernable difference when taking pictures with the new iPad. The image is more stable. It’s crisper, and focuses quicker on the things I need it to.

In terms of using the camera to document student work, students, and transforming existing content, this tool will help to ensure that what is being delivered to students is not blurry and can be seen well.

With Dropbox, taking existing content and loading it onto other students ipads will be super easy. I think this camera may rival my iPhone’s. I probably should test that theory another time.

What has me the most jazzed is the built-in dictation. This means that ANY app that has a built in keyboard will allow users to dictate. Wow. I had to try this out in several ways. Dictating an e-mail was a snap, as was dictating in the notes app.  I tried dictating in Evernote. Amazing. I also tried Splashtop Remote Desktop to remote into my computer, open a blank Pages document, and used the dictation feature of the new iPad. Imagine my sheer delight when the words appeared on the document.

Dictating on my computer using Splashtop and the new iPad

Why is this a big deal? It was just cool that it could be done. If a user has more than one tool – say, a laptop, or has limited mobility, Splashtop can now be used in a different way besides just controlling a computer for display.

Lastly, the contour of the new iPad is more comfortable in my hands. I am a voracious reader. I’ve been recently reading on the iPad2. Finding a comfortable way to hold the device while reading has been a challenge. With the new iPad, the devices fits comfortably in my hand – particularly in landscape mode, which is how I like to read. It feels as close to reading a real book as it can get. While it’s just as comfortable in portrait mode, it’s not my preferred method of reading on the iPad.

So, is the new iPad right for you? If you’re looking for a sharper camera, built-in dictation, comfort in use, and brilliant display, then this is the device for you. I’m amazed at how Apple can continue to make an already great product even better, and I’m looking forward to using this to create and share content with students and teachers.

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