The Deipnosophist

Where the science of investing becomes an art of living

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Location: Summerlin, Nevada, United States

A private investor for 20+ years, I manage private portfolios and write about investing. You can read my market musings on three different sites: 1) The Deipnosophist, dedicated to teaching the market's processes and mechanics; 2) Investment Poetry, a subscription site dedicated to real time investment recommendations; and 3) Seeking Alpha, a combination of the other two sites with a mix of reprints from this site and all-original content. See you here, there, or the other site!

15 March 2012

The new iPad from Apple

First, Walt Mossberg's (WSJ) hands-on review...
"iPad could be described as a personal display through which you see and manipulate text, graphics, photos and videos often delivered via the Internet. So, how has the company chosen to improve its wildly popular tablet? By making that display dramatically better and making the delivery of content dramatically faster. ... These upgrades are massive. Using the new display is like getting a new eyeglasses prescription — you suddenly realize what you thought looked sharp before wasn't nearly as sharp as it could be."
This makes it seem as though the new iPad is designed and built for an audience of one, me. I use my iPad regularly and intensively. And daily as an e-Reader. My eyesight, while not horrible, is not very good, so I appreciate all the innovations and upgrades that Apple keeps providing... Miraculously, at the same price.

So, yes, I await my new iPad with outstretched hands and welcoming eyes. You see, I have taken the measure of my iPad 1, and found it wanting. Specifically, its processor and 256Mb of RAM, and, for an app, iBooks. To wit,
  • iOS 5.0 (and its successive upgrades, 5.01 and 5.1) tax the processor and RAM to the point where apps repeatedly time out or crash; no problems prior to iOS 5.0
  • iBooks 1.5 (and 2.0 and 2.1) is neither designed nor built to accommodate a library the size of mine (6100+ ePub files, ~10Gb)
What I have found, and confirmed independently, is that the larger the library, the more frequent the timeouts, low memory issues (check your diagnostics and usage page), and repeated crashes of iBooks. This all means that its functionality - nay, its usability - as eReader is rendered nil.

I would not ordinarily complain or moan about such items. Technology - heck, life - is about discovering limitations, and expanding beyond them, whether by design or effort. No, what bothers and troubles me is that Apple - which by all measures designed a gorgeous interface for iBooks but stinted on its functionality (though, I admit, Apple continually improves iBooks over successive generations) - hides the fact that iBooks cannot handle a library larger than x size. (Well, I have seen no ad nor fine print that states this shortcoming.) Such an item would be good to know; certainly in advance of a device pushed beyond its limits. And, for the record, my 10Gb of ePubs take up only 15% of the 64Gb hard drive; why should such a small usage percentage cause such fits?

And, to make matters worse, Apple's engineers hide behind the scrim of minor app tweaks (stop syncing, etc) that have nothing to do with the hardware that lacks necessary oomph, and an app designed for beauty and elegance but not functionality. Apple's engineers are not stupid - these problems have been known since day 1 (do a Google search) - but neither are Apple's customers (stupid). Why must we waste our time on minor settings tweaks all the way up to and through complete restores... when the company knows the problem and its causes? (btw, the iPad 2 has 512Mb of RAM, the new iPad purportedly offers 1Gb of RAM.)

Which all means I am forced to upgrade. I would buy the new iPad anyway; I loved my iPad 1, and am certain to propose marriage to my new iPad. Nonetheless, I sure would appreciate more honesty and transparency from Apple.
-- David M Gordon / The Deipnosophist

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