Tag Archives: media

iPad update (or: can this thing replace a netbook?)


Recently I took a trip to Seattle.  The trip was mostly for fun, but I ended up working quite a bit while I was out there.  For the first time I had the opportunity to take only my iPad with me on a trip.  I decided to bring my Netbook as well and let me tell you I’m glad I did!

Overall the iPad is a great experience when you’re not trying to work or do any heavy research.  When you’re watching media, doing light web surfing, emailing or taking notes the iPad is terrific.  However when I’m working I do a lot more than that.

Part of my psyche is when I have some down time I think of new things to do research on.  I’m always on the lookout for new software or gadgets that I can play with.  Currently I’m obsessed with Leo Laporte and his amazing podcasts.  This Week in Tech and his other podcasts are amazing from (among other things) a pure production standpoint.  As an aside, if I could make money doing podcasts I would seriously consider doing it full time.

I was doing research on his setup and I came across a piece of software called Wirecast.  While it’s not exactly what Leo uses, the software does a lot of similar things.  So I decided to check it out.  Doing my research I found that a lot of content about the product (movies, online interface demos, etc) simply wouldn’t show up on the iPad (I’m guessing because it was Flash).  I finally found a link to a video on the Apple site that I thought would give me more information.


However, I couldn’t get the video to play on my iPad and I have no idea why!  It’s one thing for Flash video to not play on the iPad (as frustrating as that is) but a video on Apple’s site not playing is beyond excusable.  So I pulled out my Netbook.

Later that day I decided to set up a Twitter account that focuses on games.  The first step is that I wanted to create a Twitter account that syndicates gaming feeds.  Once I got that set up, I wanted to run a Twitter Bot to find as many gaming-related Twitter accounts as possible.  My goal for this Twitter account is to keep very current with all the gaming news and gossip.

Well, let me tell you there wasn’t a single part of that task which could be done using the iPad.  I couldn’t get the content syndication site (Twitterfeed) to work with iPad.  Once I went through the headache of getting the feeds into Twitterfeed I received some random errors that prevented me from setting up my account.  So I pulled out my Netbook.

Then trying to get the Twitter account set up and getting my followers set up using a bot is not possible at all using an iPad.  There is no mass search and add functionality for Twitter on the iPad.  So I pulled out my Netbook.

Next, I tried to check in for my flight using the iPad.  Unfortunately, JetBlue uses Flash for their seat assignment and checkin, and it didn’t work on the iPad.  So I pulled out my Netbook.

Finally, on the flight home I tried to do my weekly status report for work.  For me to do my status report, I need to read the status reports from my team (which are sent to me in email) and roll them up into a combined status report (in Word format) which I then send to my manager.

What normally takes me 15 minutes to do on my Netbook took almost an hour using my iPad.  Here’s the workflow on an iPad:

– Open email
– Copy the appropriate text from the email
– Close email
– Open Pages
– Paste the text in Pages and rewrite as necessary
– Format the text to match the rest of the document
– Close Pages
– Repeat for each issue for each status report (between 20-30 per week)

This completely drove me over the edge.  I can’t imagine how a simple task like this could be made more difficult.

For all these issues I blame myself in part because the iPad just wasn’t made to do everything a computer does.  My guess is, as the iPad matures as a platform it will be better equipped to handle these types of tasks.  For now however, I think for me it’s a glorified notepad with basic email functionality and media consumption device.

I really hope it becomes more than that for me.  Don’t get me wrong, I still love my iPad, but I now realize how limited the functionality truly is.


What is up with Apple TV?

I’m really disappointed in my Apple TV.

I bought my Apple TV about 3 years ago.  I bought the original 40GB version.  I can’t say I waited in line to buy it, but I bought it a day or two after launch.  It was a crazy time in my life…  I was excited by all things Apple, and to me they could do no wrong.  I’ve been trying to ditch my cable TV for years now, and I thought Apple had the magic formula for doing it.  Boy was I wrong…

I hooked up my Apple TV and used it for about 3 weeks off and on, and then it pretty much went into my pile of unused electronics (which is pretty big, believe me).  I brought it back out when the 2.0 software came out and again when the Boxee beta happened.  Once I read about the Boxee beta, I started down the path of hacking my Apple TV (a path I take with all of my gadgets once I’m bored with them).  Luckily the Apple TV is easy to hack.

So here I am, looking at this Apple TV in my pile of electronics when I read about the 3.0 software.  Eureka! I think.  Did they add Netflix integration?  Can they stream from ABC.com, Comedy Central.com?  Did they open it up to allow viewing of different formats from directories on my Mac or PC (DivX, etc)?  Rhapsody integration?

Oh, it’s just a new interface for the same stuff?  Ok, I guess I’ll just unhook it again and wait for the next version…  Or, I can sell it to pay off my iPad?

My question to Apple is ‘why’.  I think the high level pitch of ‘bringing iTunes to the living room’ is a great one.  However, not only could it do so much more than it does, but there are tons of other options out there.  For crying out loud, the Roku box kicks Apple TV’s ass in all regards!  Netflix streaming alone makes the Roku a much better purchase (at only $100).  Plus, it can do Pandora, stream live news channels (albeit from irregular sources) hook into MLB.com and more.

And don’t even get me started on the media capabilities of my Xbox 360 or PS3 with TVersity.  Stunning, to say the least.

So, Apple, why do you even keep this thing in your inventory?  Is there a promise you’re planning on fulfilling at some point?  Or are you just going to keep it around and ‘see what happens.’  I almost feel ashamed for buying the thing.  You know, building this thing took resources from the planet and people had to assemble it!  At this point it seems like that work is for nothing.  Furthermore, Apple TV is nowhere to be found on your main site, and I actually only found references to it in the store.

If you’re so focused on making the iPad a ‘media consumption device,’ then the least you could do is assign the same goal to Apple TV.  Last I checked, the TV in my living room is almost completely dedicated to media consumption!  And you’ve got a piece of hardware that works great with it.

Apple, please either make this device what it should be or just cut bait.  I need to shrink my pile of unused electronics, and I would rather use it than get rid of it.  Maybe I need to have a yard sale…