Realizing that there would probably be barely enough budget for a single gadget all year, and given that Spring weather brought with it laptop-less weekends and a timid amount of photography, I caved in and got a new iPad. A 64GB “4G” one.

Going for 64GB was a no-brainer considering that my 16GB “classic” tablet already required some artful juggling of storage every time I took a sizable amount of photos, but forking over the extra cash for what is effectively only 3G/HSPA+ support a few weeks after we got countrywide LTE coverage was significantly harder, especially considering that I’ve always been against having an extra SIM card in every device and usually get better results by leaving a Mi-Fi or equivalent near a window and tethering all my gear to it.

In the end, carrying less stuff around (including chargers) made more sense. Barely.

As to the iPad itself, there is little to report that you haven’t read a thousand times already. Native apps on the thing are fast, but my immediate impression was that even typing feels faster - largely because switching between input languages on the “classic” edition would introduce a (noticeable) pause, whereas now there is none. Also, my favorite feature - gesture-based application switching - works like a dream, allowing me to switch between an editor, a browser and mail without hang-ups.

iCloud restore rendered a near perfect replica of my original environment, save for the idiotic omission of music1. E-books, documents, etc., were either restored or re-synced when opening apps (as they should be).

Remote desktops are comically small, practically stamp-sized. As a result, I’ve increased my Linux VNC desktop to 1920 pixels in width, and even with the iPad onscreen keyboard active, I have an eminently usable - if oddly shaped - working area for two terminals and a browser.

I haven’t had much time to play around with retina-enhanced apps (let alone games), but spent a little while trying to figure out the new iPhoto, which is somewhat baffling in its counter-intuitiveness. I am also mildly annoyed at having a better camera on my iPad than on my 3GS, largely because I think cameras on tablets mainly serve the purpose of making you look stupid while using them.

To prevent that from ever occurring, I (like a few other folk) got an original “classic” iPad cover (the black, Apple folding stand one), which not only prevents me from using the back camera but also gives a much better grip. It’s not made for this model, of course, but everything is perfectly accessible and, if you get a brand new one, it will mould itself to the new contour without any gaps.

I may yet try out a Smart Cover, but, quite honestly, I don’t see it as much of an improvement - and the only camera I see myself using (the front one, for Skype calls) is perfectly usable.

As to mobile performance, a brief test in an urban setting2 yielded 16Mbps downstream and nearly 3Mbps upstream speeds, which is plenty decent.

And, of course, enjoying perfect typography on the thing makes it a pleasure to use. It’s not going to completely replace my Kindle - I prefer e-ink for reading in Summer, and it’s reassuring to have something lighter and cheaper to leave within reach of the kids - but it wipes the floor with just about everything else so far.

  1. I realize that iTunes bashing is the new old thing this week, but seriously, why do I have to put up with it to restore my music (risking my apps in the process), and why isn’t Home Sharing fixed yet (so that I can just download what I want straight from it)? ↩︎

  2. i.e., far from any of the usual places I end up really needing decent mobile broadband. ↩︎

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