Tag Archives: ipad

Apple Certified Refurbished iPad mini Review

If the iPad mini’s relatively high price is holding you back from purchasing one, maybe you should consider an Apple Certified Refurbished iPad mini.

Here’s how retail prices compare to refurbished:

Wifi only
Memory Retail  Refurb  Savings
16GB        $329     $279      $50
32GB        $429     $359      $70
64GB        $529     $439      $90

Wifi + cellular
Memory Retail  Refurb  Savings
16GB        $459     $389      $70
32GB        $559     $469      $90
64GB        $659     $549      $110

Refurbished iPads arrive in boxes that resemble retail packaging.  The only notable difference is the absence of the picture on the lid. Other than that, everything else is identical. My iPad came wrapped in cellophane and when I removed it, the tablet did not have a scratch, a fingerprint, or even a speck of dust.
That’s because Apple tests and certifies all refurbished products. All refurbished iPads include a brand new battery and outer shell. They also include a 1-year warranty and you have the option of purchasing an AppleCare Protection Plan.

I have the 16GB wifi + cellular model. I chose the white & silver version because finger prints and scratches appear to show up more on the black & slate version. The natural aluminum back still picks up finger prints, but they’re not as visible.

The ipad mini is well designed and feels solid but light. The volume buttons are on the right side with nothing opposite them on the left. That’s an important design element for me, because I hate accidentally putting a device to sleep when I’m trying adjust the volume with one hand. The sim tray is also on the right side with the lightning port and speakers along the bottom.

I use the switch above the volume buttons as a mute switch, however, in settings you can change it to a rotation lock.

On a Nexus 7, the power button is Above the volume rocker so I frequently turn the tablet off when I’m trying to adjust the volume. I like the placement of the power button on iPads…up top & out of the way.

I’m not an audiophile, but the sound seems sufficient. I do prefer headphones when watching videos, but earbuds are not included with iPads, so I use the ones that came with my iPhone 5 and they sound great.

The iPad 2 and iPhone 4 charge via a 30-pin connector where orientation matters, while the iPad mini and iPhone 5 use the new Lightning connector. Unlike the original charger, the lightning connector works regardless of direction.  The iPad mini comes with an  iPhone style  power brick.

When I was researching the iPad mini, I was concerned that the screen would feel cramped. Many of the apps I use have an iPad version and a version optimized for the iPhone. But when I’m forced to use productivity apps on my iPhone, I’m usually left annoyed at the lack of space and wishing I had my iPad. I don’t get that claustrophobic feeling when working on the iPad mini. The experience of using an app on the iPad mini is identical to the experience I had using an iPad 2 – I don’t even think about the missing space so, I can stay focused on my work.

This is what editing a document looks like in Pages on an iPhone 5.
iPhone doc

This is what the same document looks like in Pages on the iPad mini.
iPad doc
The iPad mini and the iPad 2 have the same resolution screens – therefore, both displays contain the same number of pixels. However, since the iPad mini’s screen is smaller, it has a higher pixel density and in theory a sharper display. In my experience, I haven’t noticed a difference between the two – I’ve been equally satisfied with both. I have to note, though, some people have expressed strong opinions about the lack of retina displays in the iPad mini. If you have the opportunity, check one out in person and see if the ‘less than retina’ display will be an issue.

So far, I don’t have anything bad to say about the iPad mini. I really liked my iPad 2, and the iPad mini is all the good things about the full size iPad, wrapped up in a more portable package.


Chromecast Setup & First Impressions

I purchased a Google – Chromecast HDMI Streaming Media Player from Best Buy for $35 and received 3 months of Netflix for free. Since I’m already a Netflix customer, they just credited $24 to my account.

I’m impressed by how small and simple everything about this device is…the packaging is attractive, the instructions are simple, and when you consider what its capable of, the Chromecast is tiny.

It’s just a dongle with a small button and micro USB port on the back, an HDMI connector in front and an LED indicator.

Back in the box we have a USB wall charger, an HDMI port extender, a micro USB to USB cable, and some tiny instructions.

Setup is easy. First, plug the Chromecast into an HDMI port on your tv. If the LED indicator doesn’t light up, you’ll need to attach the dongle to a USB port on the tv or an outlet. My tv’s USB port didn’t supply power, so I’m going to use the provided  charger to to plug it into an outlet.

Now that the  Chromecast is receiving power, the LED indicator will light up.

Next, switch your tv to HDMI input…and you should see the setup screen.

To set up the Chromecast, you’ll need a computer with the Chrome browser installed or an android device. We’re using a Nexus 7. Launch the Chrome browser. And you’ll be prompted to launch Google Play. The link will take you to the download page for the Cromecast app. Install the app. I had to give Google my phone number to proceed…

Now open the app and accept the terms.

Select Setup and allow your device to connect to the  Chromecast. Let your device know if you see the code on your tv. Now you can choose a name for your Chromecast.

Then you’ll have to put in your wifi password so the Chromecast can connect to your network.

Once it’s connected, you  can watch a tutorial or just finish setup. You’re still in the Chromecast app, so go back to the home screen and launch Netflix or YouTube.

Even though I couldn’t setup the Chromecast with an iOS device, I can still cast YouTube and Netflix videos from my iPad to the tv …in fact, you can cast from any iOS or Android device that’s logged onto your wifi network…no app is required.

We went my YouTube channel and tried playing one of my old video. When you press the cast icon you’ll be given the option to play the video on your device or on the tv. It just takes a few seconds for the Chromecast to start streaming video…at this point you can do other stuff on your device or just let it go to sleep…the Chrome cast takes care of streaming the video.

When your done casting, tap the icon and send the video back to your device.

Chromecasting works basically the same on both Android and Apple devices. One thing to note is that you’ll have a few more options on an Android device…like access to video playback controls from the drop down notifications menu and from the lock screen. That’ll make multitasking more convenient.

Overall, the Google Chromecast is a great value at $35.


Get an iPad Mini Now or Wait?

It’s about time for us teachers and students to start thinking about heading back to school.  I love this time of year:  shopping for back-to-school clothes, and supplies…and GADGETS!

I decided to sell my iPad 2 wifi and get an iPad Mini 3G, but I was faced with the ever present tech shoppers dilemma: Do I get the current generation or wait for the update?

I watched/read tons of reviews of the 1st gen iPad Mini to make sure it would meet my expectations. I investigated every rumor pertaining to the unveiling of the 2nd gen iPad Mini. I determined that the 1st gen iPad Mini exceeded the iPad 2 in performance – so it would be an upgrade for me. And, if the rumors are correct, the 2nd gen iPad Mini will be revealed sometime in the next 2-6 months – not very specific.

If a retina display is a high priority for you, and you can wait up to 6 months (according to rumors), and you don’t mind paying full retail price, then wait for the 2nd gen.

I’m not already spoiled by a retina iPad so even though the resolution of the current iPad Mini is the same as the iPad 2, its smaller display has a larger number of pixels per inch, giving it a sharper appearance. I decided to go with the 16GB iPad Mini 3G that retails  for $459. However, you can get the same model, only refurbished, directly from the Apple Online Store for only $389. Even if Apple announces an new iPad Mini in a couple months, it would probably be well after the 1st of the year before they started showing up in the refurbished store. I ordered the refurbished device. You can watch my unboxing below.


Equation Editors for the iPad (or Android Tablets)

20130211-190007.jpg
Last year I tried replace my laptop with an iPad. I’m a math teacher and I needed to be able to create and edit word documents that contained equations…lots of them. I found a few apps (like MathBot) that would allow me to create equations. The downside with these type of apps is that they are not word processors. You have to export each equation as a photo or PDF, then you have to paste it into a document you’ve created in another app, then you have to adjust the size and if you have several equations on the same page it is nearly impossible to get them all a uniform size. And there is no editing the equations once they’ve been exported.

It’s a lot of work, and the end product is not that great.

I continued to look for a word processor with a built-in equation editor. I nearly bought a Microsoft Surface RT because it came with MS Office, but the price ($599) convinced me to keep looking for a more affordable option.

I found the perfect solution: Refurbished iPad 2 ($319) + CloudOn (free).

CloudOn is an office suite with built-in equation editor, just like MS Office.

20130211-222314.jpg
It’s a web app, so you must have internet access, but finally there’s a productivity suite with a built-in equation editor. I’ve used it on an iPad 2 and a Nexus 7 and it works great on both tablets.

Check out my overview of CloudOn’s equation editor.


Google Drive – Spreadsheet and Docs on a Nexus 7

I wrote a post last summer describing my experience using the spreadsheet editor in Google Drive’s Android app. My opinion was that editing existing spreadsheets was acceptable, but creating new ones was not very intuitive.

However, the spreadsheet editor is now much more user friendly. Here are some screenshots of Google Drive on my daughter’s Nexus 7.

20130206-225339.jpg

I find thumb typing in portrait mode very comfortable on the Nexus 7.

20130206-225542.jpg

I prefer landscape view on an iPad, but on the Nexus 7, you can’t see much of the document.

20130206-225600.jpg

Google Drive has a very clean, attractive user interface.

20130206-225609.jpg

Here’s a YouTube video showing a Google Drive Spreadsheet on my iPad.

…and here’s a Google Drive Document on my iPad.


Apple Refurbished iPads

image

Like new.

Yesterday I unboxed my Apple Refurbished iPad 2 (16 GB) and posted the video on YouTube.
Apple Refurbished iPad 2 Unboxing

*The packaging is different than a new iPad, yet still very attractive.
*A new 16 GB iPad Costs $399, while the refurbished devices cost $319 (I couldn’t find a deal to beat that on eBay).
*Shipping was free and prompt – I ordered it and a new Smart Cover on Saturday and the cover arrived Wed. while the iPad arrived Thur.
*I could not tell the difference between the refurbished device and a new one.

Apple refurbished iPads have:
-a new battery
-a new outer shell
-a one year warranty

The less expensive models tend to go faster, so if you set your heart on getting one, you may have to wait until more of your desired model becomes available. I’s worth checking out.
Apple Refurbished iPads

You can also purchase refurbished laptops, desktops, and iPods from Apple.

I’m curious to see how much the iPad mini will cost when the start selling refurbished models.


Nexus 7 Has Shipped!

Nexus 7

I pre-ordered Google’s Nexus 7 on July 3, and I received an email bright and early this morning (July 14) that my order has shipped.

I ordered the 8GB model of the 7″ tablet from the Google Play store for $199.  After sales tax and shipping were included, the total cost was $225.

The 8GB model is currently only available at Google Play, but the 16GB model is being sold at Google Play as well as retailers like Staples, Game Stop, and Office Depotfor $249.  I’ve heard that many of the retailers are sold out and may not be getting another shipment until mid August.

Nexus 7 covers – rumored to have the auto sleep/wake function.

If the rock bottom price hasn’t enticed you to purchase one of these shiny new tablets, Google Play is offering a $25 credit with

the purchase of a Nexus 7.  With this credit you can purchase apps, music, movies, books, and it just occured to me that you may be able to purchase the Nexus 7 cover, which is listed in Google Play as coming soon for $19.99.