Wednesday, 30 March 2011

iPad 2: What is it good for?

I don't think anyone got the reference and replied, 'Absolutely Nothing!' Or in a case of extreme irony realized that this simply does not apply! On a website I routinely frequent, someone posed the question, iPad 2: What is it good for?  Many users chimed in with their personal experiences and of course the very common Apple versus Android debate flared up.  Within the pertinent posts a common theme started to develop.  It is useful because of how people were able to integrate it into their everyday life.  Whether that is for taking notes in a University lecture or surfing the net before bed or even logging into Facebook on the bus, it has given us an outlet to do things in places that were once impossible.  (No toilets shall be mentioned here) 

            A key argument was that nothing besides food, water, heat, and shelter are really needed, everything else is a want.  And it is this realization that really is what Apple wants us to believe.  That everything really is a want and we really want an iPad 2.  Now there is nothing wrong in wanting something but shouldn’t it be for the right reasons?  Watching an ad or having it because everyone else does just doesn’t make sense to me.  However recognizing where a tablet device can enhance your daily life or even make something easier (or just satisfy your social addiction…) is what it comes down to. 

            I recently went over to my aunt’s house and I saw in the Family room they were having a conversation with their daughter who is in Med School in the states.  The whole family gathered around and we all had a nice conversation with her.  Traditionally computers are kept in a den or home office and its impractical to have everywhere in there having a conversation.  But with the mobility of the iPad 2 I quickly realized how convenient this was for them and how awesome this device can easily be. Some might say a smart phone can do the same, but if you have both devices, you know this is not true.  The experience is worlds apart.
            Granted there will be those who will use the iPad 2 for nothing other then games, but if a $600+ gaming machine doesn’t bother them then I have to ask the question, why should it bother me?  And quite frankly, it doesn’t.  I chose not to get the iPad 1 because I wanted to wait a year and see how the market developed.  After weighing my options the iPad 2 is truly the best experience out in the market right now and quite possibly in the foreseeable future.  I will get my hands on a Playbook to make sure, but I can’t see that over taking the iPad 2.  But that’s just my opinion! 

(Wanted to quickly reference Red Flag Deals and user ‘nomik2’ for starting the thread there)  Thanks!  

Monday, 28 March 2011

How to Watch your T.V and Movie Collection with Air Video

Alright then!  So you know how to keep your iPad 2 clean and downloaded a few free ‘apps’ from the App Store.  So now what?  What to do with your collection of T.V Shows and Movies?  Chances are that you own some DVD’s or already have downloaded them in digital format.  What you may not have known is that Apple products only play a few specific formats. 

Most Apple users have either given up or those who were a bit more technically savvy started using Videora.  Videora is a great program to convert all your files from other formats into something that your iPad 2 can play, but for those of us who have more then 64GB to convert (I’ve got over 2TB!) even with quad core computing power you can only assume this will be a very long process.  On top of that, the last time I checked the largest hard drive available on an iPad 2 was 64GB.  Just having to transfer files back and forth is time consuming.  Deciding if you want to have only new shows on your iPad 2, or a mix, you can spend hours just trying to decide your line up and then realize you still forgot something! If you are like me and want to have all your Movies and T.V with you at all times, this is just not possible on any tablet!  Most of the time when I sit down to watch something, I’m not aware of what I want to watch or sometimes I’ll watch something that catches my interest because it is there in front of me.  With my vast selection I needed something to solve this conundrum.  Air Video to the rescue! 

Air Video, not to be confused with Air Play, allows you to install a server on to your PC or Mac and then install the app on your iPad 2, and stream everything from your computer on to your iPad 2.  Without having to convert it first! That’s right, instantly watch anything you have on your computer on your iPad 2.  One more time, watch anything on your PC on your iPad 2. (For the effect)  If you are at home and have a wireless network setup, installation is simple.  You go to and to the download section, from there you select your PC or MAC and click download and install the server.  Select which folders you want to use or select all and then go to the App Store on your iPad 2 and download Air Video.  You can choose from the free version which randomly selects a few files on your PC to play at a time, or you can pay $2.99 for the full version of the App that lifts that restriction.  Load the app and it will detect the server on your Wi-Fi network and you can watch your movies and T.V shows instantly. (Did I mention that before?)

Another amazing feature for the iPad 2 3G or with access to another Wi-Fi network and even through tethering is the ability to access your T.V shows and Movies remotely.  Go into the settings menu on the server running on your PC or MAC and click on the remote tab, and click on enable access from internet.  There is a pin that you or anyone you want to allow to access to can enter on the app located on the iPad 2 and with a little bit of tinkering if required, you will gain access to all your T.V Shows and Movies that can be converted live and watched remotely instantly.  If you have any issue visit the forums at and you will find that they have a great admin and community to help with specific issues you may encounter with your router. 
If you also have Air Play, the feature that allows you to connect to stream Movies, Music, and T.V shows from your iPad 2 using Apple T.V to your HDTV then you are able to use Air Video with Air Play.  They also just recently released a patch that allows you to continue to watch your program and continue to use your iPad 2 to do other things.  It works with their beta server only right now, so make sure to download the latest if you want to use this feature.  (Manually from the forums)  I’ve uploaded a short YouTube video to demonstrate how this works.  I love my iPad 2 and will continue to blog about apps and things I find useful.  If there is anything you want me to write about, throw me a line and I’ll try it out! Have fun!

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Got a Shiny New iPad 2? Read this!

Alright then!  So chances are you picked up a new toy over the weekend.  And if you are like me it was an iPad 2.  I was fortunate enough to get my Ipad 2 on March 11th at the Walden Galleria in the US of Eh!  I’ve had mine now for a little over 2 weeks and I’m hoping to give you a little inside information about this magnificent piece of technology if you just picked yours up on the Canadian launch date.  (March 25th

So unboxing the iPad 2 is like most Apple products, in where you can almost hear the music in the background (you know which one) and your heart is going about a million beats per minute.  It is very hard to describe opening a package from Apple, to the naked eye it seems very simple enough, plastic wrap around a box.   But those that have experienced it know it’s a very different story. 

The first thing you will encounter with your new iPad 2 is fingerprints.  After touching it of course! To be more accurate, finger smudges!  After spending all that money you want your shiny new toy to be as clean as possible, but you will soon come to realization even holding your iPad 2 will create finger smudges!  I found my self for the first few days, at the end of every night, cleaning the screen.  I have decided that unless someone breaks into my home for the sole purpose of taking a picture of a dirty screen, that it is better to go to a weekly maintenance.  Microfiber cloths and the cloths that you use to clean eye wear have been really effective in bringing back that day 1 shine!  I am sure that as time goes by there will be many products catering specifically to the cleaning of the iPad 2, but realistically you can do just as well without them. (and their premium!)

Now, if you bought an iPad 2, chances are you also picked up a smart cover.  I find that the white iPad 2 goes great with the black cover (leather optional) and the black one goes well with the gray Smart Cover.  Of course everyone will have their own opinion, but I saw many people selecting the same colour options at both the launches I was at in Buffalo and in Mississauga.  What you may not know is that the Smart Cover is also doubles as a screen cleaner.  I have found that at best it creates solid smudge lines where it folds (so three lines) but the rest of the screen is at best only marginally cleaner.  Another thing to be weary about is the bottom hinges on the Smart Cover, on surfaces such as my desk I have begun to notice very clear scratch lines from moving my iPad 2 back and forth while using the Smart Cover in viewing mode.  Placing a piece of paper or a cloth underneath solves the problem, but for obvious reasons it is not the most pleasing to look at. 

            I am sure everyone downloaded apps, synced their collections from iTunes and overall had a blast playing with their iPad 2 the minute they got home.  I would recommend installing `Find My iPhone` and registering using the instructions provided.  Just in case your iPad 2 is lost or stolen, this just may be your only recourse in getting it back.  The ability to wipe your device remotely and even locking it is possible (also works with iPhone 4 and 4th Generation iPod touches).  In my opinion if your iPad 2 is ever leaving your hands (right now does that even seem possible?!), this truly is a must have app and the best part is that it is free! 

Another app that I will recommend is Air Video, this may be a bit a bit more advanced for novice users, but I think it is worth mentioning!  For those who are new to the Apple world, the learning curve using iTunes with a PC may be steep.  Trying to understand how to place your videos on to your iPad 2 can potentially drive you insane.  Not enough to do anything crazy like throw your iPad 2 across the room, but close enough.  At a certain point you will come to the realization that your videos need to be in the format that Apple recognizes.  All of a sudden your huge collection of movies and T.V shows on your PC seem worthless until you do some more research and realize that you can covert your videos and think fantastic.  You convert your first favourite episode of Supernatural (you know the one where, never mind…) and sit there and watch it take forever to convert and do the math and realize that by the time you convert your whole library, the Ipad 3 will be out!  Here is where Air Video comes in, along with your wireless router you install a file on your PC from their website and download the app on your iPad 2.  After selecting what file to play, you just click `play with live conversion` and your off watching your favourite T.V shows on your iPad 2 at home!  As an added bonus it works with the Apple T.V for Air Play as well!   The app is available free with some limited features, and is available to buy for 2.99 on the App store!

There are a few more things that you will learn as you go along and I am sure there are tons of websites and blogs and forums you will be going through in order to get the most out of your shiny new toy.  So what are you waiting for? Go and do it already!!!