08 March, 2012

The New iPad

Apple launched the new iPad with their usual fanfare yesterday. That’s what they’re calling it. Not iPad 3. Not iPad HD. Just “the new iPad”. I’ve almost been turning into an Apple fanboy lately, having bought an iPad 2 for myself, for my wife, and an Apple TV in the last year.

So, I tuned in yesterday for the big announcement to see what all the hubbub was about. I must say I’m underwhelmed. I guess I’m going to have to give back my fanboy card.

What’s new?

  • A retina display, featuring 2048x1536 resolution. Well, I’m sure that’s nice and it’ll be pretty, but not once have I ever looked at my iPad 2 and thought to myself, “what I really need is four times the pixels”. I’m quite happy with the resolution of the model I have. I do take a lot of notes on my iPad, and that might make note taking easier. Certainly the drawing app they showed from Autodesk was impressive.
  • 4G LTE. Well, that had been one of the big rumors, and I must say I’m surprised to see Apple adding mobile phone technology to the iPad that’s not yet available in the iPhone. However, it costs more, and you pay a nice hefty monthly fee for the service. Sorry, but I’m not interested in that kind of price model, and unless this is something you have an active business need for, you shouldn’t be either. Amazon charges a little more for their Kindle with 3G, but no monthly service fees. That’s reasonable. Even the other way might be reasonable, with a discounted price, but modest service fees. What Apple and the mobile phone companies are trying to push on you isn’t remotely reasonable.
  • A better camera. Well, thank God for that. The camera on the iPad 2 is crap. I never use it. But I’m not sure that the reason I never use it is because it’s crap, or because a mobile phone is just a much better form factor for taking snapshots. I suspect it’s more the latter than the former.
  • Faster processor, better graphics processor. Yawn. Moore’s law.
  • iOS upgrades, upgrades to iWorks and iPhoto. Hmm. Looks like I can download all of these for my current iPad.

What isn’t new?

  • There’s still no USB port, or SD card slot.
  • Still painful to hook to a projector, or video screen unless it’s AirPlay enabled. If I’m a business traveler, I still need to take the laptop with me. Which begs the question of why I would even bother to bring the iPad.
  • Like everything else from Apple, it’s exorbitantly priced.
  • The two apps that I use the most on my iPad are probably Mail and Calendar. Mail is one step above crap, and the UI for it doesn’t even make that step. Probably the best thing you can say about Mail is that it doesn’t crash as often as Calendar and has most of the required functionality, unlike Calendar.
  • They still have that awful virtual keyboard. Well, it’s better than the one on the iPhone, but that’s not saying much.
  • The charging port is still non-standard USB and expects twice the current that the USB standard calls for. So, whenever I plug it into my computer I get “Not charging” (it is, actually, just slooooooooooooowly).
  • Despite the zillions of apps available, there’s just no good blogging tool. If I had to choose between getting a root canal and writing a long blog post on my iPad, I’d take the root canal. It’d be far less painful.
  • iWorks is nice, but I’m sure that I’m far from the only business user who has noticed that Pages and Numbers are not Word and Excel.

In short, there’s absolutely nothing about the new iPad that makes me want to rush out and upgrade. Worse for Apple, there’s nothing about the new iPad that would make me want to rush out and buy one if I hadn’t bought an iPad before now. If I was buying a new iPad today, I’d save $100 and just get a discounted iPad 2.

This is an incremental upgrade, nothing more. Worse, given their current release cycle, we’re looking at Q4 2013 before Apple releases anything better. The tablet space is too volatile for that pace of growth to be acceptable. Apple just opened the door for Google and Microsoft. It remains to be seen whether they’re capable of going through it.

Oh. One more thing.

Apple TV upgraded to 1080p? That’s it? Yes, there’s a new UI, but I downloaded that for my current Apple TV last night. I have both a Roku and an Apple TV, and other than AirPlay, the Roku is head and shoulders above Apple TV. And has a better UI. Apple closed the gap some with the new UI and 1080p, but they’re still behind here, not setting the pace.

07 March, 2012

Can We Start Thinking About November Now?

Yesterday, former Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) picked up five more states in the battle for the Republican Presidential nomination, including the all-important bellwether state of Ohio. He now moves from frontrunner status to likely nominee status.

So, yes, it looks like the Republicans once again picked the next man in line. Our nominee is going to be the man that less than two years ago, I swore I’d never vote for. I’ve reluctantly changed my mind on that score, but what hasn’t changed, is that for the sixth consecutive Presidential election, I’ll be forced to vote for a candidate that’s to the left of me. Just once I’d love to vote for a candidate that represents my views.

And yet, on the whole, it could have been worse. A lot worse.

Don’t get me wrong. I admire former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA). The more I get to know him, the more impressed I am with him as a human being. I admire his beliefs, and I admire his willingness to stand up for them, even when he knows that he will face strong criticism for some of them. He seems to be a man who says what he believes and believes what he says. That’s a rarity for a politician these days, and it’s to be lauded.

I admire former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich’s (R-GA-06) intellect. I admire not only his knowledge of history and world affairs, but his understanding of them. I said two years ago that he’d be a formidable debater and he has been. He’s a great idea man. I’d love to see him as Chief of Staff, or maybe even Secretary of Energy, State, or Commerce. He’d give any of those departments the top to bottom shakeup that they sorely need.

I admire Congressman Ron Paul’s (R-TX-14) fighting spirit. I admire the way he’s grabbed this issue of the power and secrecy of the Federal Reserve and he’s not letting go. He’s absolutely right on this issue. I also admire they fact that despite the R after his name, he’s probably the only true Libertarian in either chamber of the U.S. Congress.


I have more than my fair share of concerns with all three of these gentlemen. As I’ve said numerous times on this blog, I’ve never been a fan of legislators as chief executives. Certainly the last 3+ years have done nothing to change my mind on that score. Ron Paul’s ideas on foreign policy are frankly, terrifying. Newt is a great idea man, but like all idea guys, sometimes he nails it, and sometimes he misses wildly. He’s not fit to be the top guy. Someone needs to be there and say “whoah, Newt, slow down”. He also has far too much baggage to make a good Presidential candidate. As for Santorum, his social conservative ideas will be sure to scare away independents and libertarians. He doesn’t appear to have a chance in his home state of Pennsylvania, or the neighboring state of Ohio. While both of those are uphill climbs for any Republican candidate, it’s hard to draw an electoral college map that gets a Republican to 270 without coloring at least one of these states red. In short, I’ve never felt that any of the three of these men are electable.

So, what do I admire about Mitt Romney? His electability. The GOP needs to make the economy and America’s fiscal situation the #1 and #2 issues going into November. No candidate is more suited to make these arguments to the American people than Mitt Romney. Do I have concerns about his “true conservative” credentials? As a former governor of Massachusetts of all states, you bet I do. I think he is much more likely to be a Republican Bill Clinton than a new Ronald Reagan. And that disappoints me more than I can say. I also think that ObamaCare should be one of the biggest issues of the campaign season (and how it directly impacts issues #1 and #2 above), and I have said numerous times that his candidacy and his own RomneyCare takes that weapon and forces the GOP to put it back up on the shelf. It’s hard to win elections when you can’t use your best weapons against the other candidate.

I got an email from Rick Santorum’s campaign this morning (using an e-mail address I provided only to Michele Bachmann’s campaign, btw) saying that the fight has just begun. I hope they rethink. Mitt is going to be the nominee, and it’s time to start planning for November, not fighting for the convention.

Remember what we’re fighting for here. We’ve got to get that clown out of the White House before he completely destroys this country.

Yes, it’s that important. And it may already be too late.