iPad 3: Is it worth it?
April 11, 2012 1:20 PM   Subscribe

I currently use an HP Touchpad running Android ICS. I've come to love having a tablet and the HP does most of what I need. But I've been thinking of upgrading to the iPad 3. Worth it? Pros/Cons?

The Touchpad has been a fantastic investment as my first tablet after buying it in last year's fire sale. I have it rooted, dual booting Android Ice Cream Sandwich and its native WebOS. I mostly use it in Android, reverting back to WebOS only if there's a problem in Android (like battery issues, see below) or if I need to use Skype. A downside is that my spouse & I use Google video chat but when I'm in Android, the Touchpad's camera doesn't work at all. In WebOS the camera can only be used for Skype and there are no other video chat apps. I *hate* Skype. In general the Android experience is great though: The tablet is fast and intuitive, web browsing with Chrome is seamless and smooth, and the app store offers plenty to fill my needs. The Touchpad hardware is IMO great quality, sturdy, and it has a lovely clear bright screen. Lately, however, my Touchpad's battery function has gone wonky when in Android: it won't hold a charge, the battery discharges too quickly, and sometimes it won't take a charge at all when plugged in. When I have the tablet in WebOS mode, I don't have the battery issues so it seems to be a problem with the OS (I am using the latest Cyanogen version of Android) -- thing is, that as nice as WebOS is, it just doesn't have the apps/functions I need so I prefer keeping the tablet in Android. Because of the charging issues though, I've been idly thinking of upgrading.

I had the opportunity to play with an iPad 3 for a few minutes recently. The high-res Retina display is awesome, and even though my Touchpad's display is better than most other tablets, the new iPad eclipses it by far, so that's the main thing that has my interest. Navigating around the iPad's apps seemed intuitive and snappy. I heard the Apple app store has bazillions more apps than Android -- but that's not a huge priority for me as long as I have my basics (tabbed web browser, Kindle reader, Gmail, PDF reader, GTalk, Neftlix, Youtube, camera, maybe a game or two). I'm in no hurry to spend the money. I own no other Apple products but I haven't been too enthused about the other Android tablets out there (terrible displays on most of them and slow processors). I need at least a 10" screen. Not really interested in iPad 2.

I've done some research on the iPad 3 but I can't seem to find clear answers on a few things so am seeking some insight: Among the functions I want are a front facing camera which works with Google video chat (not interested in other video chat apps), Gtalk (Google's text chat client), ability to sync my Chrome web bookmarks, ability to play videos from Netflix and Amazon. Also, how does one load files (ebooks, pics, MP3s) on the iPad: does it have a data cable to load files back/forth from the computer and will a Windows PC be a problem for this? Does it have a micro-SD card slot? I've heard there may be charging problems with the iPad 3 - true or not and how bad? Bonus question: Is there any point in going for the hyped 4g capability even though WiFi has always been plenty for me?

Appreciate any thoughts on whether it's worth jumping ship from my loyal Touchpad or if I should just wait till there's something better available. Thank you.
posted by cuddles.mcsnuggy to Technology (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
1) Video Chat: There are some Google video compatible apps for iOS, but there isn't a huge market there so the quality may be uneven, between Skype and Apple's iOS/Mac OS exclusive "Facetime" app, the market is pretty much covered.

2) Google has a front-end app that puts all of their webapps in one place, but you'll probably want to be able to receive messages while in the background, so you'll have to try out a bunch of third party clients to see what you like.

3) As far as Chrome goes, probably not. All browsers on iOS are built on top of mobile Safari, again, you'll have to try out a few (I like Skyfire) to see what you like tab-wise, but no Chrome or Firefox to be seen.

4) Netflix, yes. Amazon, no.

5) You're going to wind up using iTunes to move music, movies, pics, etc back and forth from your windows PC for the most part, although an increasing amount of that is handled by iCloud as long as you stay within the Apple ecosystem. I'm a fan of using DropBox, that way I can swap files over wifi without having to plug into my laptop. Remember, no SD, no user accessible file system.

6)The battery issues are largely overrated. The indicator on the iPad will show a "full" charge when it's at 90%, but will continue charging to 100% if you leave it plugged in. If this bothers you, you can have it display percentages.
posted by Oktober at 1:33 PM on April 11, 2012

If it sounds like I'm down on the iPad, I'm not, but there's a way of thinking you have to adopt: you do stuff the way Apple "wants" you to, and everything is easy and seamless. You can often kludge together a couple of apps to do things the way you want to, but it's never going to work as well as Apple's solution.

I currently have a MacBook Pro and an iPhone 4s, I'm about to pass my Kindle Fire down to my wife and get a new iPad, largely because of how phenomenal comics look on that screen.
posted by Oktober at 1:35 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

"Retina" is admittedly an Apple marketing term, but we're unlikely to see QXGA android tabs this year because 1) Apple has bought out 12 months worth of capacity from every manufacturer (Sharp, Samsung, LG) capable of making them and 2) They have a patent on specific tech they're using in those screens to prevent bleed.

I'm sure we'll see some very nice 1080p AMOLED screens on 10" tablets this year, just not quite as nice.
posted by Oktober at 1:45 PM on April 11, 2012

Response by poster: Interesting: thanks for the tips so far. I'm not inclined to jump to a new gadget unless it has a much better display than the one I have right now (or my Touchpad dies completely). It sounds like Apple is an alien and restrictive experience if one is used to the freedoms of Android devices however; and the iPad's chat/videochat clients don't seem quite optimal for what I need, since all my contacts use Google. Inability to play Amazon video is a pretty big bummer. Inability to transfer files directly from the computer is... weird. I've heard complaints from various users about the constraints when stuck working within Apple's system for everything, so iOS in general has me leery.

I'm leaning toward sticking with Android (provided that a reasonably-priced 10" device with a hi-res display & fast processor comes out soon) but am still curious about iPad. Because the iPad 3 is so new, I have not found many recent comprehensive comparisons between Android & the latest iOS version. For those who've heavily used both Android tablets and the iPad 3 recently: Which OS is faster, more intuitive, preferable and why?
posted by cuddles.mcsnuggy at 2:10 PM on April 11, 2012

The big, huge, difference between the iPad and everything else at this point is the app ecosystem, the iPad has more apps designed for tablets specifically, and the quality is much higher.
posted by Oktober at 3:06 PM on April 11, 2012

I have a ICS touchpad, and a iPad; quality of individual apps for the iPad are better, and often heads and shoulders better than equivalent apps for android tablets. You often have to settle for a good enough app on android, you never have to on apple.

That said, the system level touches are super nice on android, sharing links/between programs/ These functions can exist in iPad apps, but they have to be specifically worked out.

Almost anything you can do on one system you can do on another, it just might take you a few more steps. On the iPad there's no equivalent of the one-touch Chrome-To-Phone feature which opens a link automatically on my tablet from my computer, but I can do almost the same thing with an app.

(Also re battery, have you checked the forums? I haven't had issues, but you may want to do a clean install of ICS)
posted by stratastar at 12:05 AM on April 12, 2012

Response by poster: Just following up. I bit the bullet & bought an Ipad 3. Final verdict: If you're used to Android ICS the Ipad just does not measure up. There's just so much the Ipad can't do: No flash video at all, too much monkeying around with apps to get Google talk & videochat to work but they're buggy, no Adblock function unless its jailbroken, the email & Facebook apps are awful, and the app store didn't seem any better than the Android app store despite the hype. But the Ipad 3's high-resolution screen, I'll grant, is just stunning and worlds above anything else I've seen. The Ipad's camera is also great. But it's just not worth the $730 for me to have a snazzier screen & camera if my Android tablet has so much more true functionality for my needs.
posted by cuddles.mcsnuggy at 4:52 PM on April 21, 2012

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