An iPad Air is calling me

I am off for a four week vacation in Europe. My cell phone is small (which I like) but is not very smart (slow and no Skype). I don’t want to travel with the laptop. I want to be able to keep in touch with email and Skype. I want to take photos and videos. I love the big display. I am not a gamer.

My life has been fine without the iPad. I am just not sure what use I will have with it when I return. Any thoughts?

For those of you that have this product, is the $99 option for AppleCare a good idea?

In my experience, an iPad is the kind of thing where, before purchase, there’s no obvious need or use for it - it can’t type as well as a laptop, too big to be a smartphone - but after you get it, you use it constantly. Which isn’t to say you’re guaranteed to love it, but if you spend a lot of time just surfing the web, reading articles, watching YouTube videos, etc., then it’s a lot more intuitive (and less bulky) than a laptop.

I might go with one of the older, cheaper versions rather than the Air, though - all of them are plenty thin and very light.

I buy AppleCare and it has paid off. Dropped my iPad 3 and dented the corner of the case. Apple replaced it for free 2 weeks before end of coverage. For some reason, they waived the $49 replacement fee.

I think there are excellent reasons to have a tablet. I have a 7" Nexus, and it’s a lot of fun. I have friends who own iPads, and they love them, and find them very useful.

But i would suggest that you don’t plan to use your iPad as a camera on the European vacation. They’re big and unwieldy for a camera, and walking around holding your iPad up to everything makes you look like a fucking tool.

In the past couple of years, i’ve seen four people drop iPads while using them as cameras in tourist locations—three in San Francisco, and once here in San Diego. Every time it happened, i felt a small shiver of satisfaction.

IMHO, using anything larger than an iPad Mini to take pictures makes one look ridiculous, and it’s exceptionally rude if you’re taking photos/video in a spot where others behind you are trying to do the same.

But for everything else you mentioned, you’d likely be very happy to have it.

And speaking of IMHO <whisks into ModMode>, this would be better suited there. Moving from MPSIMS to IMHO.
Hal Briston – MPSIMS Moderator

I just bought the Air 16GB, as Best Buy has them on sale at $200 off. Unless you really like typing on the screen, I highly recommend getting a Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Folio. The iPad will sync with the keyboard, and it’s much easier to type with. The folio also provides a stand for the iPad via a magnetic strip and doubles/triples as a carrying case/protector.

I predict as more people get them, using them for pictures will becomes less… odd.

I used mine as a camera when I did the buffalo roundup in the Black Hills last fall. Yeah, it’s a bit unwieldy, but there is a satisfaction and usefulness to seeing a full sized version of the shot you’re going to take and be able to make minute adjustments. I used it to take multiple shots of the low water on the Mississippi in downtown Minneapolis a couple of years ago, showing repairs to the falls, then months later when water levels recovered.

Although yes, doing so in a crowd can be a bit rude.

I bought my last iPad two years ago when I got my new job and started riding the bus to work. In that time I probably spent at least the price of the iPad on content. But when I bought a new one a couple of weeks ago and turned the old one (still in incredibly great shape) over to my 75 year old mother (recovering from back surgery), I told her that I had definitely gotten my money out of it, since I paid $500 for it and had used it at least 500 hours, perhaps a lot more.

It is incredible how addictive it becomes. Wake up, check email, facebook and weather before getting out of bed (I don’t answer anything then, but I know it’s there). Watch Amazon and Comcast streaming content. Watch movies, tv shows, listen to music and play games on it every single day on the way too and from work. Take along on family gatherings to show off pictures, take more, show off content, entertain myself while everyone else is playing a game, etc. Watched streaming content in hotel rooms on my vacation. Last Monday we didn’t complete our battle in the Against the Giants series (D&D), so I took three different shots of the map and minis so we can set back up properly tomorrow. Full size, clear shots you wouldn’t see as well on a phone.

Tablets are freaking awesome.

This is correct.

The biggest problem with using it as a camera isn’t the size of the device, it’s the crappy pictures it takes. I have an iPad 2, and I also use an iPad Mini that belongs to my employer. The photos they take are horribly grainy. Even my cheap Samsung phone takes better pictures.

I didn’t buy an iPad for a long time, because “it wasn’t a real computer.” I bought one for a specific reason when the iPad 3 came out. I haven’t really gone back to using my computers. There are a few things that you can’t do on a mobile device, and I bust out the laptop for that once in a great while. My desktop is only used to play music now.

The camera was actually the tipping point for me to buy one. Who cares if you “look like a fucking tool?” The rear facing camera takes really nice outdoor photos. And the large retina display makes them a joy to look at and share.

The forward facing camera is mostly crap.

Wow, do you kick puppies too? But yes, that is a downside to taking photos. There really needs to be a good case that goesn’t impede the rear camera use.

I didn’t buy Apple care. I did invest a bit in a nice case and a Zagg screen protector.

iPad 3 takes amazing pictures with the rear camera. The front camera is as you describe.

The iPad 2 and 1st gen Mini only had 0.7 MP rear cameras.

Later models have had 5.0 MP rear cameras.

Unlike a couple of others, I would not suggest the older model currently available. Just in the past couple of weeks, Apple started offering the iPad “4” (the late 2012/early 2013) model as the lower end large-format iPad (at $399). My wife has one, and it’s terrific. Shortly after they came out, though, I bought an Air to replace my first-day-of-issue iPad 1. It was, of course, much thinner, lighter, and faster than my original one, but it’s also significantly smaller and lighter than my wife’s. It’s not just the thickness–they reduced the bezel around the screen so the exterior dimensions are smaller as well. It’s astonishingly easy to carry around for something with that large a screen.

If you want to save money, and don’t mind the smaller size, I’d look seriously at the Retina Mini. Specs are virtually identical to the Air for $100 less (at each storage size). And a Mini can fit in a jacket pocket or small purse. I only got the Air because my vision is very bad and I need the bigger type (number of pixels is exactly the same).

The back side camera on the newer iPads is decent, but nowhere near as good as an iPhone or single-purpose camera. If you use a separate camera, get the USB/Lightning adapter and you can download everything to the iPad and start processing it each night on the trip (with a WiFi connection, all the pictures will automatically back up to iCloud, too, though be aware that that is temporary storage only).

I would go with a mini, without any extra protection insurance. Get an otter box for it or something that will prevent it from breaking if you drop it. And I don’t know about where you are going but here in the US, the cellular feature is great for location, directions, and finding cool places to go. I use the yelp app, and maps is built in, so when you click on an address, maps automatically comes up with directions.

Are you sure the resolution is significantly different between the iPad3 and the iPhone? My recollection is that they are pretty close.

I bought the iPad on a whim, and ended up using it more than any other single electronic tool. That apparently includes looking like a dork using it as a camera, though I do not use it in crowd situation. I also use it to browse the internet, play games, watch streaming movies from Amazon and Netflix, and I read my Nook and Kindle books on it. I even used Skype as a phone once when my cell phone ran out of juice.

Yeah, but for ‘real’ digital cameras, 14 MP has been more or less the minimum for ages now. And that includes the ones that are about the size of a cigarette pack, but half as thick, and costs less than the insurance plan on the iPad. Plus the 8x optical zoom. How much optical zoom does the iPad camera have?

An ipad mini is excellent for travel. Fits easily in a carry-on bag. It’s about the right size for reading e-books. If watching videos is your main thing then you’ll probably want a bigger screen, but the mini is fine for the occasional movie.

No, the 1st gen iPad Mini has a 5 megapixel rear camera. It still takes grainy pictures. They’re a little better than iPad 2, but not much. There’s more to picture quality than megapixels.

I traveled for two weeks with just my mini and didn’t miss my laptop at all. Books, music, movies, internet, mail, even Google Voice via Talkatone, so I was all set.

I took along a camera, but wound up using my mini for that, too, tool that I am. :stuck_out_tongue:

Good catch, missed the Mini spec update from the 2. Since neither have a flash, in some cases it could be that the grainy pics are low light artifacts.

One cool thing about the newest gen is that they work with all US carriers. I bought a T-Mobile iPad Air for the free 200MB per month but have also used a VZ sim in it.

I travel internationally quite a bit. I wouldn’t leave home without my iPad. An iPad with a whole season of some TV show loaded up on it and a pair of noise cancelling headphones will make a 14 hour flight go by in no time. Also great for Facetime or iChat, checking email and watching Youtube. I rarely use the camera anymore as I also have an iPhone 5 but, with iCloud, all the photos I take with the iPhone show up automagically on my iPad allowing for easier editing with my favorite photo apps.