Well, after much deliberation about which portable device to purchase (netbook, Android Tablet, MacBook Air or iPad) the iPad finally won. The Macbook Air lost out very early on in the price war. I did consider a MacBook Pro, that’d also boot as a PC, but decided against that too as I felt that a combination of Windows laptop and iPad would provide me with access to most of the things I’d need.
Schools are generally PC-based and if they’re thinking of investing in mobile technologies, I’m not sure that Mac laptops are the answer now we can get apps on Tablet PCs of Apple/Android flavour that do ‘most of the stuff, most of the time’. I think that if Iwas still an ICT Co-ordinator and couldn’t afford a complete re-start on my ICT infrastructure, I’d be opting for: maintaining my current infrastructure, adding a decent wireless network to it and then giving a lot of thought to what mobile devices I’d have. Laptops? Netbooks? ChromeBooks? iPod Touches, Tablet PCs….. and whatever is looming next!
It was a tough call for a number of reasons, some ruled by the head and some the heart. I already had an HTC phone, so an Android tablet was high on the list, with the Samsung Galaxy probabaly top of that list. I’d wondered about cheap Android tablets for schools on a cost basis, but over the hols I got to use one…. not a pleasant experience, but then it was £60 against the £350 of the Samsung, so I guess there is something in the ‘You get what you pay for’ argument.
So, having dismissed cheap Android tablets, it was the SG v the IPad. I spent an hour or two over a weekend at a friend’s house where Mrs an iPad and Mr a Samsung Galaxy. In the end, it was a bit like arguing over whether a Merc is better than a BMW or a Dyson better than a Mielle (such domestic appliance knowledge!). They were both excellent to use and I’d have been happy with either.
So, why the iPAd? Well, along with the iPod Touch, it seems to have the edge on useful educational apps. Don’t just go by the numbers avaialble though, there’s a lot of rubbish out there on both platforms. There are also a few options available for managing a class set of devces that I’ve yet to see on Android, so that pretty much made the decision. Also, whilst Apple rollout software updates that work on all their devices, Android upates are often staggered as the various manufactureers ‘tweak’ their flavour of Android for their device. E.g compare a HTC phone with a Samsung Galaxy- both Android, but both have sublte differences.
I have to say I’m very pleased with it, though there are some things I really dislike about it/Apple. Their refusal to put a usb port on, for one. What harm could that do? My second major gripe is the lack of facility to expand storage via memory card, forcing you to shell out at around £80 per 16MB on different iPad models that’s locked into your iPad, compared to about £15 for a reputable memory card you could use on Android tablets, and cart it around with you.
So, these gripes apart, how have my first few weeks been with it as a personal device. Well, pretty good really. It connects to various wireless networks at home, schools, Satrbucks, etc without a hitch. (I didn’t get the 3g version of the iPad, so no phone connection for me) and using my iTunes account I’ve begun to seek out educational apps that I think would be useful in the classroom…; as well as a few for personal amusement.
I’ve decided to avoid the plethora of educational games and drill and skill apps that are out there as I think that, by and large, they’re not worth bothering with and I can get more value for money from my iPad with content free apps that allow me to create ‘stuff’.
It’s still early days yet, but amongst my favourites so far are:
Our Story from the OU- free and a belter of an app. Silent Film Director and if you’d followed me on Twitter you could have had this for free and not £1.49! Garage Band, despite being ‘musically challenged’ I can see the potential. Google Earth, Comic Life and J2E.
I’ll be updating this as I find and use more apps I think are worth downloading and when I bump into other useful info sites and blogs about iPads/Pods, I’ll park them here.
In the meantime, you could do a lot worse than visit David Andrew’s blog and read about his iPad journey and read his app reviews.