Sep 13

30-pin to Lightning Adapter

When Apple announced it was updating the magnetic charging connection on its 2012 MacBooks, the company released an adapter that allowed users to charge new MagSafe 2 notebooks with older MagSafe chargers. That adapter is available for $10.  But when Apple unveiled the long-rumored change to its 30-pin Dock Connector yesterday, those with older Dock Connector cables, speakers, chargers, docks, batteries, etc., didn’t get off quite so cheaply.

The new Dock Connector, which Apple calls Lightning, won’t fit any existing iPhone, iPod, or iPad accessories.  So if you want to use those accessories you’ve likely been accumulating for the past few years, you’ll need a 30-Pin Dock Connector to Lightning Adapter.

And Apple will gladly sell you one… for $30.

I’m glad Apple changed its aging Dock Connector, and I very much like the design and improved usability of Lightning. But charging $30 (or $40 or the adapter with a built-in cable) is outrageously and unjustifiably pricey; you can buy an entire MP3 player with a screen, 8GB of storage, a processor, controls, etc., for less than $30.  Charging $10 – which would have still allowed a hefty profit margin – would be much more reasonable.

I will be getting the iPhone 5, and I have many accessories that use the standard Dock Connector.  But I won’t be giving Apple $30 a pop for their adapters.  I’ll wait for eBay or Amazon to sell third-party or OEM models for $3, even if I have to wait a few months. 

And if you’re smart, you’ll do the same.

M. Nichols, Products Editor

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May 18

An iPad the size of a Kindle Fire?  Yep.  And soon.

Since the first iPad was introduced in early 2010, there have been constant predictions of an “iPad mini,” an Apple tablet with a screen significantly smaller than 9.7-inches. 

All have been wrong.

Even before being proven so by history, the prognostications were routinely quashed by naysayers, who – like Steve Jobs – believed that smaller 7 and 8-inch tablets lacked the utility of the larger iPad; Jobs even went so far as to say that such an iPad would not be produced by Apple. After three iPad generations’ release, we haven’t seen so much as a quarter-inch change in the screen size, mostly because Jobs’ was the only opinion that counted for much the last two and a half years.

But his influence, lasting though it may be in many respects, is no longer a deciding factor at Apple.

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Mar 22

Air Display Getting a Retina UpdateOf all the apps on my iPad 2, the one I was probably most looking forward to trying on the new iPad was Air Display.  This iOS utility from Avatron allows you to use the iPad (or iPhone, iPod touch if you’ve got a magnifying glass handy) as a second display for your Windows PC or Mac. On the iPad 2, that was all well and good – I’d use it for a PDF viewer or for iTunes to cut down on my primary monitor’s clutter – but with the iPad 3’s 2048×1536 resolution… the app’s utility seemed like it would, well, quadruple. 

But last Friday, iPad launch day, there was no Air Display update.  There wasn’t one Monday or Tuesday.  Yesterday I found out why.

According to a post on the company’s blog, they got to work immediately on a Retina-friendly version of Air Display when the iPad 3 was announced, but after testing the update on an actual 3rd Gen iPad last week, the results were disappointing.  They continued their work and now an update is currently under Apple review and should be available in the coming days.

You can still use the current version of Air Display on the new iPad, you’ll just get a lower resolution that’s not particularly pretty.  Still, if using your iPad as a second display sounds good to you, give it a try (you can read my initial review of Air Display here, which I will update once the new version goes live).  Avatron promises improved performance on older iPads with the upcoming update, too.

M. Nichols, Products Editor

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Mar 20

iPad's Hot!

Apple’s sales report shows the new 3rd Gen iPad is red-hot, selling over 3 million units its first weekend out the door. That number comes from totaling sales in the handful of countries where the tablet is offered, not just the U.S., but if true it’s a very impressive number.

Being hot isn’t always a good thing, though.

Many users, including yours truly, have found that the new iPad gets anywhere from warm to downright hot during use, and particularly during more demanding use, an apparent result of the tablet’s new high-end System-on-a-Chip and larger battery.

Another Apple Gadget, Another Somethinggate

Reports of the iPad 3 getting warm – or even hot – began instantly upon its release.  Mid-morning on Friday, a user known as faatty posted in an Apple forum “I’m loving the screen and speed but there’s something weird about it. It gets rather warm/hot after 30minutes of usage. It has never happened on my iPad 2.”  Many similar reports have been seen in online forums, on Twitter and around the ‘net since then, and while it doesn’t seem to affect all users, for those it does, the issue is somewhere between an annoyance (hand raised) and a real usability concern.

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Mar 16

3rd Generation iPad

Updated March 19, 2012: For days I’ve been reading rave reviews of the new 3rd Gen iPad. Each early reviewer had his own unique observations, but generally the love was directed where you would expect: the Retina display, battery life, graphics performance, LTE, and overall Apple-ness. From the moment it was announced – and actually even before – I never doubted I would love the new iPad even more than I did the first generation or the iPad 2. 

And I do greatly appreciate the important new features. But after spending a few days with Apple’s second tablet revision, love is not the first word I’d use to describe my feeling.  In fact, I’m a little disappointed.  Not that the iPad 3 isn’t great – it absolutely is -  or that it’s improvements aren’t important – they are – but in taking their tablet to the next level, Apple has also sacrificed some of what made the device feel like the “magical” slab of glass it’s been since the first model was introduced two years ago. 

Is the gain worth the give?

The Hardware

An understanding of the new iPad’s hardware begins and ends with its screen, the Retina display.  This 2048×1536 264PPI  IPS touchscreen is the star at the center of the iPad 3 system, around which all revolves.

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