Which iPad Should I Buy?

I received this email a few days ago from a friend who was trying to decide which iPad to buy.

Brian,

I need the advice of a young professional.  Santa is going to bring me an iPad.  If you were going to purchase one, what would you get?  iPad thin?  regular iPad.   I am familiar with Apple and moderately tech, as you already know.  Would you be willing to get Santa some advice?

-J

Here is my response to her:

Here is what I would tell Santa… you have basically four choices, the iPad Air, iPad 2, iPad mini, or iPad mini with retina display.  The first decision to make is what size iPad you want.  I’d take a look at them in the store and see which size you feel most comfortable with.  I prefer the larger iPad, but I know quite a few people who like the smaller size of the mini because as an e-reader it is more comfortable to hold…

If you want the larger size, I would recommend the iPad Air for a few reasons:  First, the iPad 2 was released about 3 years ago, and I am not sure how much longer Apple will be supporting it.  My hunch is that the next version of Apple’s operating system will not work on the iPad 2.  If this happens, then there will be a growing number of apps that the iPad 2 cannot handle.  The iPad Air also has a significantly faster processor.  The A5 processor on the iPad 2 lags occasionally, especially using the new iOS7.  The Air also has a nicer camera and a much nicer display.  It has the “retina display”, which means that the display is so fine that the naked eye cannot see anything finer…

The iPad 2 is also a great machine… I have had mine for about 2 1/2 years and I like it very much.  My main concern is that if you get an iPad 2 now you probably only have 2 or so years of high level functionality with it before Apple’s other products advance to the point where the iPad 2 will be left in the dust.  The iPad Air should be good for 4-5 years…

If you’re choosing between the minis, the differences are about the same as between the full size… the mini with retina has a faster processor, better camera, and better screen.  I think the mini will be supported by Apple a little bit longer than the iPad 2, since it was just released last year, but who knows…  The specs for the mini with retina display are almost the same as the iPad Air.  At that point it’s a matter of cost and form factor.

The last choice to make is storage capacity.  I have the 16 GB iPad 2, and I have filled it to capacity with apps, pictures, etc… but that doesn’t mean that I necessarily suggest getting a larger size.  For the amount extra that Apple charges for the larger sizes, I don’t think its worth it.  If you fill it with apps, you can always delete the apps that you’re not using.  Any apps that you buy are associated with your Apple ID, and can be downloaded again at any time…  if you get music, you can use Apple’s “cloud match” service so that you don’t have to store the songs on your iPad.  You can store pictures, documents, and video on any number of free cloud storage services (dropbox, Google drive, iCloud, etc…)  There is not much benefit to the larger capacity for the cost, in my opinion, until developers start releasing much more robust apps that take up much more space, and I don’t see that happening anytime soon (though I could be wrong)…

I know this is a lot, but I hope it helps!

Merry Christmas!
Brian

The first (of many) Gadget-Blog posts

Since this is the first post, it is probably a good place to make introductions.  This is the Gadget-Blog, by GadgetProfs.  My name is Brian Tittl, and I, along with Matt Daniels and Adam Dane formed GadgetProfs about a year ago after attending an iPad conference.  The conference was on incorporating the iPad into the high school classroom, and we went hoping to gain some insight into how to manage a classroom full of iPads.  The three of us teach at an all-boys high school in Toledo, Ohio.  The previous year, our school implemented a 1:1 program, putting an iPad in the hands of all of our nearly 1,000 students, 6th-12th grade.  At the conference, we were hoping for some insights on lesson plans, classroom management, and tips on more effectively using our devices in the classroom.  What we received was a list of about 60 iPad apps, many of which we had already tried and discarded in favor of other solutions.  The conference was an utter waste of time, and we left thinking that we could do better.

About a week later, the three of us met to discuss forming a company that would provide real training for teachers on how to effectively use technology in the classroom.  We didn’t want to provide lists of apps, but real strategies that teachers could use.  We didn’t want to be cheerleaders for particular pieces of technology, but present the unvarnished truth… the good and the bad… about implementing a 1:1 program.  We are an ideal team.  Matt is currently the coordinator of our school’s iPad program.  He is a cheerleader for the iPad at our school, but recognizes its limitations and the challenges inherent in a massive 1:1 program.  I am (and have always been) a tech geek.  I got my first computer when I was 6, a Commodore 64 that booted to a blue screen where I learned to program in Basic.  I am an early adopter of many different technologies and I like to try out new gadgets and discover their strengths and weaknesses.  Adam has experience in programming, and is also a bit more skeptical of technology’s role in education.  Where I am invariably gung-ho about new forms of technology, Adam will bring up the all-important “why” questions.  ”Why should we use this technology?  What does it add to our students’ education?  How is this better or more effective than other methods?”  This has been a great asset to our programs, because these are the questions that a large subset of teachers are asking, and this is the most important discussion that we could be having about our programs.

So we began.  We put up a website, set out a mailer and after about two months of preparation hosted our first iPad seminar.  Representatives from about eight area schools attended, and it was largely a success.  We have since given other presentations at area schools, and have expanded our repertoire to not only iPads, but Chromebooks, Windows and Mac laptops, Content Management Systems (Moodle, Canvas) and SMARTBoards.  I think the secret to our success so far is that we are teachers.  We are in the trenches everyday, trying to make a 1:1 program work at our school.  This gives us special insight into classroom management and causes us to focus not just on one specific technology, but on what works in the classroom.  This blog is the beginning of a new phase in our development.  We see this site as a place for teachers to go to share ideas about 1:1 implementation, to discuss the potential benefits and pitfalls, and to gain some new strategies for their own classrooms.   We invite you to comment  and talk about your own programs, what works, and what doesn’t.

In the upcoming weeks, we will be adding a lot to this site.  We hope to add discussion forums, webinars, screencasts, and a lot of other material.  Some of these will be free, and some will be available for a nominal fee (for which you will receive CEU credit).  And, as always, if you school is implementing a 1:1 program, or your teachers need training on other pieces of technology consider bringing us in.  Information about our training programs and packages is available on our website.

Thanks for reading!  Check back soon for more from the Gadget-Blog.

Brian Tittl