Behind the times – Getting started for the first time with the iPad

This week, I started using an iPad for the first time having been issued with with the instruction “this is for work, but have a play around with it and see what you think.”. It feels like I’m the last person to get started with tablet computing? Is should mention at this point that I’ve been brought up on PC’s, with MS operating systems (since DOS 5).

First impressions were good. I have an Android smartphone and UI responsiveness, use of the accelerometer for switching from portrait to landscape views, for example, we’re much the same – only bigger! The whole thing oozes build quality – this is a nice gadget to use.

Then I came to synchronise with my iTunes library ( I have an early-generation iPod). Wait a moment – the memory is how much? 16GB? Cheap USB flash drives have been available with that sort of capacity for years. I had a cheap pc with that sort of capacity back in 2000. My 5th generation iPod has 60GB of memory.

Now, bear in mind that this is not just my first experience of using an iPad – it’s my first time using any tablet computer. My first ports of call were therefore online PC/electronics retailers to see what else is out there. For the record, I found that I had been given an old iPad with 3G – not the new model. As of today, the 16GB iPad is listed on the Apple store for £429.00.

It seems that the memory in these things tends to be around 16-128GB. Once you get over 64GB, it seems that SSD’s are the norm. For the higher screen sizes (around the level of Apple’s offering), made by well known brands it does look like you pay similar prices at the 16GB level if you also want 3G? However, it seems that on the android tablets I’ve seen, you also get a USB and SD port, so you can at least extend the memory considerably and cheaply.

When I come to buy my own tablet PC, I think the only reason I would possibly buy an iPad is for compatibility with my iTunes library. Even then, I can already stream my music files to my Android smartphone using uPNP and I can only fit a tiny fraction of my iTunes purchases on to the iPad. To add insult to injury, my iTunes collection is held on a NAS which works well on my windows PC as iTunes reads it through a mapped drive. The iPad will not let me do this and iTunes compatibility keeps breaking with the NAS every time Apple update iTunes. A truly frustrating situation. If I want to stream music to the iPad using the official iTunes apps and using the official iTunes protocol with music and movies I have legitimately bough from the iTunes store, I would have to purchase more hardware or leave my PC on all the time, when I have a perfectly good NAS to do the job. No thanks.

I think I’m going to see what sort of tablets Windows 8 is released on and consider the options. It’s not often that you can say buying MS reduces vendor lock-in!

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