Saturday, 26 January 2013

My New Games Console

iPad 4 and Mini

The records of this blog clearly indicate I was a skeptic with regards to the iPad (see here and here, if you insist). We still bought one, eventually (here), and now that I am looking at it from this side of things I can clearly see how I’m using it more and more.
One doesn’t need much in the way of statistics; all it takes is looking at how often we charge its battery. What used to last us more than two weeks between charges can now last as little as a couple of days. Between its accessibility, portability and ease of use, the iPad is finding itself used more and more as the preferred tool for my media consumption (in plain English, everything that does not require the extensive use of a keyboard). I like its more esoteric uses even more, like the way I use it as a remote control for my Apple TV or for my Mac.

There are two particular iPad uses I would like to discuss in this post. The first one is gaming, where I simply want to say how great an iPad can be in the gaming department. So great that, in many respects, it is far superior to full fledged gaming consoles.
I am not talking about the games of the type we first saw on the iPhone, games that later grew to fill the iPad’s bigger screen. No, I am not talking about your Fruit Ninja, Cut the Rope or Plants vs. Zombies, even though they have to be commended for offering excellent gamesmanship for a mere few dollars.
No, I’m talking about games of the type that would not shame a console or a PC, games like the latest Need for Speed or Bastion; even the HD version of Monopoly can be counted here. In my opinion, the visceral “in your face” element of the iPad, couple with good headphones and a UI that fully utilizes the iPad interface (as opposed to a port) can lead to gaming experience superior to that of the consoles. That, at least, is my opinion on Need for Speed (a game I can directly compare to the PS3) or Bastion.
My point is simply that the iPad totally revolutionizes the video gaming arena in a manner that most people (and console manufacturers) seem unable to realize thus far. The ability to pick it up and play, and continue playing as I go places, earns it points no console can earn. That said, console manufacturers need not worry; their product have their uses. In my particular case there is one [big] factor that helps keep the iPad as my distant number two gaming option, but I’ll discuss that in another post [this post is now here]. I can clearly see where the future is heading, though.

The iPad does not only aspire to cannibalize my current gaming habits. It’s also making inroads into my reading habits, which is the second thing I wanted to discuss in this post.
You might find this hard to believe, but I do spend a lot of time on the Internet. The thing about the iPad is that it is an incredibly efficient tool with which to consume the Internet: it is almost as portable as a smartphone but is not as fiddly to use, while on the other hand offering most of the functionality of a PC but in a much more agile packaging.
The result is that when combined with Twitter, I can spend hours and hours consuming stuff from all over the web. Because my Twitter followingship is mostly list based, I can even direct my consumption. If I want to read IT stuff, I will follow this list and see where it takes me; if I want to follow up the latest in matters of civil liberties, I will follow that list; and so on. The quantities and the rates of update on Twitter mean that, essentially, I have a never ending stream of interesting stuff pushed in my direction; all I need to do is pull. The iPad makes that pulling easier than ever.
The point about this whole Internet consumption thing is that it competes very directly with my book reading. It has a couple of advantages in this age of the short attention span: there are no off moments, like a book’s boring parts; if one is bored then there is always something else to look at. And it is always up to date.
The only limitations the iPad has when compared to my Kindle ebook reader are its screen, which is significantly inferior for prolonged text based reading, and the fact that outside my house Internet connection is not as reliable. But that’s it; it’s the erratic nature of Internet connectivity on trains and the generally slower/more expensive nature of mobile Internet that is holding the iPad back here. These, however, are only technical factors, and we can see them improving before our eyes: I think the Optus 3G network is significantly better today than it was a year ago. I also suspect it’s just a matter of time before 4G enjoys cutthroat pricing (we’re basically waiting for the more affluent market segments to saturate).
Once these technical issues are addressed, and probably long before that, the iPad and its compatriot tablets will conquer the ebook reader. Their versatility and online prowess guarantees it. More prophetically, I suspect the future of reading lies less with books and more with flexible online interactive contents. As in, we will not be reading less lengthy books from start to finish and more interactive stuff that is similar to books but more versatile in form, potentially even changing as the reading goes on. Again, I will further touch on that matter in that future post I already promised you above [this post is now here].

Where am I leading to with this post?
Simple. The above represents my reasoning for getting myself a 32GB iPad Mini.
Why 32GB? Because our current 16GB is not large enough to hold all the games I would like to be able to play; currently, I find myself deleting and reinstalling stuff to accommodate my “needs”.
Why an iPad Mini? Because it features many of the advantages my Kindle has, including lightness and the ability to use with one hand. I consider the 7”-8” the optimal size for a portable tablet I can stick in my bag and carry with me everywhere. My current 10” iPad is too much of a heavy brick for me to carry along without second thought.
Rumor has it Apple will release the Mini’s second generation in March, this time with what their marketing department refers to as a “Retina” display. Assuming that screen does not sacrifice too much out of the battery, I very much see myself in line to get one.

Image by andyi, Creative Commons license

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