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Rumors have been flying for weeks now about the coming iPad 3. I know several people who have already decided that it will be the replacement for their original iPads. My own thoughts? From all that I’ve read so far, I’ll probably be staying with my 1st gen iPad for a while longer. What I really want is something smaller.  I’ve been looking at Android-based tablets for a while now (hey, we need to know the competition, true?) and when Barnes and Noble released the 8 GB Nook Color Tablet last week, I grabbed one.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my Apple tech goodies, but as good as they are, they’re not perfect. (Yes, I actually said that.) I ran into problems while my husband was hospitalized recently. The hospital has an open network for patients and visitors, but apparently, certain ports are blocked making it impossible for Mail to connect to retrieve my .me email. Gmail has an app that works, and I could also check my gmail using Safari. iCloud doesn’t allow you to use iOS Safari. It just offers to help you setup your iApps. Terry suggested iCab (set to mimic Safari for Mac), and while it worked once, I could never connect to my email after that. And yes, I deleted it, rebooted the iPad, reinstalled, and it still wouldn’t work. It allows me to log-in to my iCloud account, but quits when I try to access email. Has no problem with iCal. Don’t need it to access iCal. As the commercial says, there’s an app for that.

The Nook Tablet was easy to set up, but even their dedicated email app couldn’t get past the blocked ports on the hospital network. That said, their built-in web browser had no problem connecting to iCloud email. It cuts off a bit of the right hand edge, but at least I could read it. For $199, I’m impressed by the Nook Tablet. The Android OS is not as slick and intuitive as iOS 5, but it is fast. The screen is gorgeous and responsive. Some touch screens, like the Kindle Touch, are overly sensitive, and it’s very easy to turn three pages instead of one while reading a book. The Nook is just about perfect, in that respect. Their documentation? Shame on them. I’m the screen capture kid. I use them on a weekly basis to illustrate these postings. There is absolutely no reference to screen captures anywhere in the documentation that I could find. Googling it turned up the button combo —  hold down the home button, tap the volume down, then let go of the home button. Screen captures are saved to the same folder as the included wallpapers. Now, getting them from the Nook to my computer was something else.I had to use Skitch (also free) to email them to myself. Kludgy. I guess I’m just spoiled. Apple does manage to get a lot of things right.

What would I like to see Apple borrow from the Nook? Size, please! I know that a lot of people feel that something between the sizes of the iPad and iPhone wouldn’t be that popular. I beg to differ. With a third-party app, Reminder Notes Live Wallpaper!, I can put sticky notes on my Nook desktop. Oh, how I’d like that on my iPad and iPod touch! Yes, I have note taking apps, but I have to remember to open them. A post-it on the desktop is a no-brainer. There must be a way to make it possible.

One of the freebie apps I found was from SHOwtime cable. It doesn’t have all of the SHO content, but this afternoon I was able to watch one of the Dexter episodes that I missed. Showtime is not for the kids, but then, I haven’t been a kid for a long, long time. It does have ads scattered here and there, but for a free app, I can put up with them. Oh, and there is no equivalent in the iApp Store.

One significant thing that I’ve found these last few days — while reading books on my iPad strains my eyes (that’s why I have a Kindle), the same can’t be said of the Nook Tablet. Whether it’s the screen itself, or the degree of contrast, I don’t know. Whatever it is, the screen is easy on my eyes.

So, iPad 3? None of the rumors indicate a smaller version, so maybe I’ll upgrade when iPad 4 is released. In the meantime, it looks like the next piece of hardware to upgrade will be my laptop. My poor 4 year old MacBook is on its last OS upgrade. It doesn’t have what it takes to run Mountain Lion, and as I like to keep the same OS on my laptop and my desktop, I’ll probably replace it sometime later this year with a nice little MacBook Air.

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  • Brian Stone

    Great article Phyllis. Lots of good honest information.

  • Chuck Freedman

    Phyllis;
    I picked up a B&N Nook mid last year. Tried it as-is for a while, and didn’t really like it. I do NOT have an iPad either, but I’m always with laptop, so maybe I just didn’t give it a chance? I quickly rooted the Nook, then wiped it and put a Android (full install) on it (http://bit.ly/yUW2Ee), but I just found that the tablet versions of android were only modified versions of the phone software, so I kept running into errors looking for 3G (which the nook doesn’t offer) and icons I couldn’t move/remove. Eventually, I sold it on craigslist – somebody got a good deal. As for reading: I find that reading on any back-lit device is straining on the eyes, and I ended up buying my wife a Kindle (keyboard), and, for reading, it’s awesome! I’m hearing rumors of combined e-ink/back-lit LED screens on the horizon (best of both worlds), but until then, I’m happy just using my MPB.

    Thanks for writing this!

  • FYI: Apple may have a smaller iPad in the works.
    QUOTE: Apple Inc. is working with component suppliers in Asia to test a new tablet computer with a smaller screen, people familiar with the situation said, as it looks to broaden its product pipeline amid intensifying competition and maintain its dominant market share.

    Officials at some of Apple’s suppliers, who declined to be named, said the Cupertino, Calif., company has shown them screen designs for a new device with a screen size of around eight inches and said the company is qualifying suppliers for it.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204795304577222354104574994.html?KEYWORDS=Cook+smaller+ipad

    • Phyllis

      Speculation is that the earliest we might see a smaller iPad is late Summer. SJ was strongly opposed to it, so development is way behind.