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Apple iPad Luster is waning without Flash support.

Note: part of this entry appeared in a previous blog entry. Let's just say my opinions have been changed.....

Why did I purchase this?

I took delivery of the 16GB Wi-Fi Apple iPad in April. No, I did not wait in line, I took the leisurely deliver it to my front door method. I guess waiting in line could have been fun hanging with the crowd, but that's ok. It got here. No, I'm not typing this blog on the iPad. This is still easier on the laptop.

I'm generally not an early adapter. When the iPhone first came out, I waited for the 2nd generation because I knew they would be faster and probably cheaper in a year or so. And I was still happy with my Motorola Razr phone.

So why jump on the very first iPad? Well, it looked like fun and it looked like a nice way to start and end each day. In the morning I have my coffee, breakfast and usually check out my emails, the local newspaper, CNN, MSNBC, the New York Daily News and the Creative Cow website. The iPad looked like it had a much better screen and viewing experience than the 15" MacBook Pro I have been using. It's also a lighter device.

On an airplane, unless I'm in first class / business class, I can't open up my laptop comfortably to work or to view a movie. I played some games on the iPhone on my previous flight, but that is a pretty small screen. When I went to NAB in April we took the iPad and sure enough, it was perfect for watching episodes of Psych and some movies. Great screen, great viewing angle.

At home when watching television, we always have the laptop around to look up websites or look up information that is spurred by whatever it is we're watching. I thought the iPad might be a little more handy than opening up the laptop each time we wanted to look up something. For the most part, this has been true. Again, it's much lighter and easier to start up and look up something than using the laptop.

So I bought this thing for entertainment and to have something that's a little smaller than a laptop. It's a multi-media device that's big enough to see the screen clearly yet small enough to go pretty much anywhere comfortably. But primarily, this unit was purchased to be used at my house for pleasure.

The Prohibition of Flash

Ok, so going into this purchase, I knew Steve Jobs prohibited Adobe's Flash from the iPhone and iPad. I've had the phone for years now and don't miss Flash on that unit at all. I don't really surf the web at all with it. When I'm waiting around for something, hanging in an airport, whatever, I'll go to the news apps to see what's going on in the world. Check the Creative Cow's mobile site to answer some questions. And definitely I check and correspond with my office and clients via email. But I don't really surf the web with it where I would miss the Flash capabilities.

I think if you polled iPhone users, you would probably get a majority of users who feel the same way. Email communication is the primary reason why we have iPhone and the ability to use Twitter, Facebook, and News websites are a nice bonus.

Now the iPad is a different animal. It's not a phone. You can't make phone calls with it. It's a multimedia device with an incredible 9.5" screen designed to work primarily with the internet. The internet is full of websites that use Flash in one capacity or another. Hulu.com is one of the more recognizable names loaded with Flash videos.

Steve Jobs claims that Flash is the past and Adobe should move on to html5 support. (http://www.apple.com/hotnews/thoughts-on-flash/) Flash will slow down the iPad. Flash will kill the iPad battery faster. And there's this line.... Adobe’s Flash products are 100% proprietary. They are only available from Adobe, and Adobe has sole authority as to their future enhancement, pricing, etc. Is Steve talking about Adobe or Apple? Steve, look in the mirror and say that same line.

Steve, I don't see anyone selling Mac Clones. They used to, but it's not allowed now. I don't see any other computer manufacturer running Mac OS. I don't see anyone else running the iPhone OS. I don't see any competitive pricing for the Mac products (Mac Pro, Macbook Pro, etc...) no matter where they are sold. In other words, these products are 100% proprietary, they are only available from Apple and Apple has sole authority as to their future enhancement, pricing, etc...

But I digress... Flash is used for other purposes like forms, images, schematics and more. This past week my wife and I were researching pricing and itineraries for a potential cruise in 2011. Of course I pulled the iPad out as we were sitting outside on the deck. The iPad screen is very easy to see even in the full daylight. Well, one site after another would only partially work. We could get the basic information on the company, but no ship overviews, cabin layouts, itineraries and pricing would work. Just big empty white boxes. Using the Atomic Web Browser app, I checked the source of the pages and without fail, they all had .swf elements on the pages. So we pulled out my wife's HP laptop to continue with our research. Again, her screen is much brighter than my MacBook Pro's screen so it was a better choice to continue the research.

The iPad luster starts to wane.

So the lack of ability to simply research these sites that don't have any Flash video on them, they use Flash for basic functionality, really made me think about Steve's claims. Again, the iPad is an internet centric device. So if it's an internet centric device then it should work with the entire internet, not just those parts that Steve Jobs feels we should be allowed to use. I paid over $600 for this device (price of the iPad + AppleCare + tax) and I'm being arbitrarily told what website I can and cannot use.

Look I'm not an Adobe fanboy by any means, just go read my blogs about Encore and you'll see how much trouble Adobe has caused me. But Steve's fight does not hurt Adobe whatsoever. He says it's time for Adobe to stop looking back and start moving forward. Is he also going to tell all the thousands upon thousands of web sites using Flash elements they have to move forward too? Really? They have to spend thousands of hours to redesign their sites so they can operate on Apple's proprietary iPad device or create an iPad App to be sold in Apple's proprietary App Store after Apple employees approve it. Of course, they don't have to approve it and there's no arbitration or any other recourse to sell those apps for use on the iPhone and iPad.

Or, Apple could open up the iPad to Flash, one element being added to your device that opens up the entire internet. Oh and it still might not all work correctly. As Steve notes in his "thoughts" some Flash based sites rely on rollovers which a touch device doesn't support. At least not at this time. So not everything is going to work, but certainly much much more of the web will work than what works now.

And finally I bought this iPad for use today. Not for what it will do tomorrow when (if) the entire internet changes over to all html5. I'm sure it's going to happen, but just how quickly will that happen, especially when there are many millions more devices that CAN run Flash than can't. Why knock yourself out to support just the "cool" factor devices when percentage wise, they are a very very small portion of mobile internet devices in use.

So here in our house, the luster of the iPad has really started to fade and fade quickly. It's a cool device and the apps are nice, but we're pulling out the laptops more and more these past few weeks because the iPad is simply useless to do much of the research we're doing. You would think basic travel sites would work, but nope.

I originally purchased this base model of the iPad with the intention of upgrading next year. I figure it'll get faster, larger hard drive and maybe a camera next year. And then I was going to give this one to my wife. She's made it pretty clear she doesn't really want it now. She finds her HP laptop much more productive than the iPad.

At this time, it looks like I'll just use the iPad primarily for Twitter, Facebook and reading the news in the morning. When I fly, I'll watch videos on the plane. Can't really say that I would recommend the iPad anymore. When I bought it I loved it, especially the video playback. But now that I've had it for a while, I wish I would have just put the money towards a 13" Macbook or a Windows based netbook. The "cool factor" would not have been there, but at least I would have the option to use the internet, the whole internet and nothing but the internet. I'll chalk this up to a $600 mistake.

In the lexicon of Twitter, I'd have to give the current configuration of the iPad a #Fail. It's still got a great screen, but honestly I could have spent my money better elsewhere. Oh, and before you all write to me, yeah I know all about the Cloud App that allows you to run Flash video on the iPhone / iPad. Um, not exactly an elegant solution nor does it address Flash functionality on websites.


Posted by: walter biscardi on May 30, 2010 at 6:11:01 pmComments (6) apple, ipad, flash

Apple iPad, First Thoughts

I took delivery of the 16GB Wi-Fi Apple iPad Saturday. No, I did not wait in line, I did the leisurely deliver it to my front door method. I guess waiting in line could have been fun hanging with the crowd, but that's ok. It got here and I've been having fun with it all weekend. No, I'm not typing this blog on the iPad. This is still easier on the laptop, at least for the moment.

Why did I purchase this?

I'm generally not an early adapter. When the iPhone first came out, I waited for the 2nd generation because I knew they would be faster and probably cheaper in a year or so. And I was still happy with my Motorola Razr phone.

So why jump on the very first iPad? Well, it looked like fun and it looked like a nice way to start and end each day. In the morning I have my coffee, breakfast and usually check out my emails, the local newspaper, cnn, msnbc, the new york daily news and the creative cow website. The iPad looked like it had a much better screen and viewing experience than the 15" MacBook Pro I have been using.

On an airplane, unless I'm in first class / business class, I can't open up my laptop comfortably to work or to view a movie. I played some games on the iPhone on my last flight, but that is a pretty small screen. Again, the iPad looked like it would work very nicely in any plane seat for games and movies on a flight.

At home when watching television, we always have the laptop around to look up websites or look up information that is spurred by whatever it is we're watching. I thought the iPad might be a little more handy than opening up the laptop each time we wanted to look up something.

So I bought this thing for entertainment and to have something that's a little smaller than a laptop. It's a multi-media device that's big enough to see the screen clearly yet small enough to go pretty much anywhere comfortably. But primarily, this unit will be used at my house for pleasure. The laptop is for work the iPad is for fun.

Oh and true story. I hired an editor for a documentary project that was scheduled to take about 4 months. 1 month into the gig, the editor calls my client to tell him he's bailing on the project. Doesn't call me at all, I get a call from my client completely pissed that the editor who spent a month absorbing the information is now bailing on the gig for another job. So the iPad was a late birthday present to myself for having to simultaneously finish one feature documentary and start editing a second documentary to make up for this editor totally screwing us.

The Good

Well, it's everything I expected it to be and more quite honestly. If you have an iPhone, you already know how to operate the iPad.

First off, the screen is simply stunning. Incredibly sharp, vibrant colors, very bright and very easy to see outside even in the sunlight, though I would not recommend using it in the sun as the reflection is pretty distracting. The touch and sensitivity of screen seems snappier and better than the iPhone.

Setup was a breeze, I got my email account set up very quickly and synced up my bookmarks with Safari on my laptop. We were up and running with everything in about 5 minutes. Again, because I already own the iPhone, I knew the drill. If you don't own the phone, it might take you a little longer to get up to speed on it.

Next I sync'd up some, not all, of my iPhone apps. 1 of the games automatically notified me of an update to an iPad version at higher resolution and it really looked great. The other apps that are iPhone developed can be blown up to 2x resolution by the iPad but they do pixelate pretty badly. Some worse than others. The Sims 3 is not bad at 2x but the Facebook App looked really poor.

Now one of the neat things about having the big screen is I don't necessarily NEED the apps. Like Facebook for example. The actual facebook website page looks awesome on the iPad so I just go there now instead of using the small app. Same with Twitter, though I did download Twitterific, I don't necessarily need to use that. So surfing the internet is a much better experience on the iPad than the iPhone and is pretty darn similar to surfing on a regular computer. Except the graphics and videos are just stunning on the iPad.

The bigger screen in landscape mode, really lays out the Mail nicely. A full list of my mail on the left side and the body of the selected mail on the right. Very nice and an easy to use touch keyboard to create mail.

Video resolution is just amazing. I happened to have the BluRay set of "Up!" which includes the digital copy. So I loaded it onto the iPad and it looks like high definition. Then I loaded one of my own H.264 files onto the unit and it also looked like high definition. In fact the video quality is so good, this is now how I plan to present video demos and such to clients and potential clients when I go out on sales calls. The "wow factor" and the incredible video quality means I might use this for a little bit of work after all.

The Book application is actually a nice surprise. Included with the iPad is a copy of Winnie the Pooh to give you a sense of what the books look like. It looks and acts like a regular book, but with absolutely gorgeous graphics. I love the way the books sit on a library bookshelf and the bookshelf rotates when you go to the bookstore. I am definitely going to be taking advantage of this bookstore as time goes on.

And finally the very light weight of the unit is incredible. The darn thing only weighs a little more than a pound and feels like I'm holding a small book. And it's only the first weekend, but battery life has been outstanding.

The Not so Good.

The most disappointing thing for me so far has been the Pages application. For those who don't know what this is, it's a word processing program that is part of Apple's iWorks package. I have the full suite on laptop and figured I would install the iPad version of Pages so I could open documents and modify them when necessary. Well, I can't drag a Pages document from the laptop to the iPad. It says it's not the right type of file to move to the iPad. It's a Pages document. I'm trying to move and open it in the iPad Pages. Apparently the only way to accomplish this is to the iWorks.com website, push the document there, then download it to the iPad. What? I have the iPad attached to my laptop so why I can't I just drag the file over like I do with videos? So I'm thinking the $9.99 fee for Pages might have been wasted.

The iPad does not charge when it's attached to my laptop. The iPhone does, but the iPad says 'Not Charging.' So why doesn't the pad draw power through the USB like the phone? Not sure, but I have to plug the iPad directly into a power outlet in order to charge it. Maybe it's too much of a power draw, but there's no explanation for this in the user manual other than to say it would pull a "trickle charge" when connected to a computer.

What I plan to add next.

I'm going to pick up one of those dockable keyboards because it would be nice to use the thing to write articles and blogs for the website, like I'm doing right now. And a full sized keyboard will be nice when I travel for answering emails.

And I'm waiting for the iPad case to show up now because it is kind of scary just walking around with it and it's a little slick so I'm a little nervous about dropping it.

Final thoughts

Now we all know that within 12 months Apple will release a faster iPad with more memory, larger hard drive, a camera, yada yada yada. This is precisely the reason why I went with the bottom of the line option. I can enjoy this unit, play with it, see what I like and don't like. When the 2nd generation unit comes out, I'll most likely step up to a larger model and give this unit to my wife as she just loves to read and this thing is an incredible eBook.

If you're looking to replace your laptop, this is NOT the unit for you. It can do a lot of things a laptop can do, but it's not a work machine. It's designed as a multimedia, entertainment device and that's exactly what it is. It's made to be enjoyed, not put to work, though if your work is media centric like mine, you will find ways to use it for work.

So am I glad I purchased it? Absolutely. Does it meet my needs? So far so good. Can it be better? Absolutely. Am I enjoying it? And how!


Posted by: walter biscardi on Apr 5, 2010 at 2:02:50 pmComments (2) ipad



Professional Video Editor, Producer, Creative Director, Director since 1990.

Credits include multiple Emmys, Tellys, Aurora and CableAce Awards.

Creative Director for Georgia-Pacific and GP Studios, Atlanta. Former Owner / Operator of Biscardi Creative Media. The show you knew us best for was "Good Eats" on the Food Network. I developed the HD Post workflow and we also created all the animations for the series.

Favorite pastime is cooking with pizza on the grill one of my specialties. Each Christmas Eve we serve the Feast of the Seven Fishes, a traditional Italian seafood meal with approx. 30 items on the menu.

If I wasn't in video production I would either own a restaurant or a movie theater.

 




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