In Other News, Swallowing An iPad Makes You Choke

Today’s stupid post comes from The Wall Street Journal in the article Video Speed Trap Lurks in New iPad by Anton Troianovski.

This article reveals how some users are using up the cellular data on their iPads faster than they expected. Guess it was a slow news day down at the ol’ Journal.

They start off with the best example, in terms of laugh-worthiness:

Two hours of college basketball—-which he viewed mounted to his car dashboard and live at tournament games-—had burned through his monthly wireless data allotment of two gigabytes.

This dude, who is so brilliant he watches basketball while driving, managed to use up his data by watching two hours of video. What more can you say? Clearly life sucks.

Mr. Troianovski searches for something, anything, to say on this topic, and comes up with this:

The iPad’s new high-resolution screen and fast connection are specifically designed to spur greater use of online video.

I’m not buying this. I think it the new iPad’s design was done so Apple could stay in the lead with its hardware. There are many uses for a high-resolution screen and fast connection. Admittedly, watching online video is one of them, but I hardly think it was the main goal.

The Wells Family was interviewed for the article, and they clearly didn’t put a lot of thought into their use of the cellular data network. First the son complains that the hours he spent watching YouTube at the coffee shop really burned through his data plan. No kidding? Huh. Then Dad has his own problems:

Mr. Wells’s father, Steve Wells, also hit his data limit on Saturday. While he was at the basketball game with his son, his wife was using his iPad as a video baby monitor for his granddaughter while she napped in another room. By the time the two were back from the game, the app had burned through his two gigabyte plan.

His wife, presumably in their home, used the iPad with a cell network to monitor a baby for a few hours? Where in the world did this reporter find these people? So, no wifi network in the house? No way to simply listen? Wouldn’t they have had the same problem in this case on a 3G cellular data network? I’m actually quite surprised that this paragraph didn’t end with, “and they found that the iPad’s battery was down to only 63%. It was astonishing how using the iPad would eat up the battery like that.”

At some point in this article it might have been a good idea to point out that none of these people ran into extra charges for going over their limit, the data stream just stopped. That’s a big difference from data plans on your phone. Also, there are bigger data plans available if these people want to continue such nonsense. Verizon offers a 10 GB plan. Plus, with any of these plans you can always simply pay again once your allotment is up. You know, in case you want to monitor the paint drying in the kitchen next. Your iPad does not have to be a disconnected slab of glass for the next 29 days because you went nuts streaming video. I suppose giving information like this would make it even more clear what a waste this article was, so it’s good that Mr. Troianovski left it out.

Dad concludes with this gem:

“All the advantages of the iPad device are completely neutralized by the two gigabyte data limit,” said Steve Wells, 56.

Yes, ALL the advantages. I’m returning my stupid useless iPad ASAP.

7 thoughts on “In Other News, Swallowing An iPad Makes You Choke

  1. Dave Wiley says:

    A couple of my apps have options to “only do this operation over wifi” or “only do this when recharging”. In the case of my podcatcher it only downloads new podcasts when both are true. It would be nice to see these options become more universal to help save people from themselves.

    • scrooks says:

      I see those options fairly regularly where they make sense. The iPad also has a system option to completely disable LTE (leaving 3G) if you find yourself drinking from the stream too fast. And of course connecting to wifi overrides any cellular use.

  2. Ellen Wilkin says:

    It does seem like the reporter picked the dumbest iPad users to interview. And didn’t poll anyone who had no complaints with the 2GB limit.

    What else is the high-resolution screen and fast connection good for? Video conferencing? I wouldn’t think the high res is very important there. Internet gaming? That would make more sense. I am really curious, not being a tech head like you and Dave are. What do you think Apple had in mind for this hardware?

    • scrooks says:

      Everything looks terrific on that screen. Looking at anything is like looking at a bright, printed photograph. No pixels. So this means everything you do benefits. Text is very precise and clear. That’s nice while reading email and the like, but it really shines when reading a book or a magazine or a comic book. Comic books are especially nice. Then there are games, which I don’t actually play that much, but the experience is enhanced for a game (internet-enabled or not) that takes advantage of the screen. Maps show incredible detail. Video of any kind is terrific — the screen is higher resolution than a 1080p HD TV, so even top-resolution video can’t fill it without being scaled up. Doing any kind of photography stuff is a real treat. It’s like looking at an 8×10 print in your hand. Some people have surprised themselves and discovered they love using the iPad as a camera (which is typically scoffed at) because it’s sort of like using an old 8×10 view camera to compose your picture. I could go on and on.

      To me it’s about the same jump as going from old SD TV to the HD TV of today. I can’t get enough of looking at this screen for anything. But, just as it was with the SD -> HD TV jump, some people are not that attuned to the details. Terry, for example, is less exuberant about her new iPad. She admits it’s clearer and sharper, but it’s not the same immersive experience as it is for me. So each person soaks things up differently. I think part of the reason I’m so thrilled with it is because my eyes are so bad. Without my glasses I can get up close and see details and no pixels, which is great. I first experienced this when I got my iPhone 4S with it’s Retina Display and I was shocked at what a difference it made for me. Totally unexpected.

      So that’s the screen. The fast connection is another matter. I didn’t get an iPad with cell data last time, thinking wifi was good enough. And it was, generally, but there were more times than I thought when I wanted to use my iPad (with data connection) and there was no wifi around. So this time I sprung for the feature. And, like the screen change, is more of a pleasant surprise than I expected. Now I can use my iPad anywhere without even thinking about it. The wifi to cell data change happens automatically as needed. And since LTE seems to be as fast as most wifi connections I can’t even tell the difference if I don’t look up in the corner of the screen to see what icon is there. It’s liberating. I have yet to really soak in the full brunt of this for my usage, I think. If I didn’t already have an iPhone it would be an even bigger deal. I fear I am going to go down the path of paying Verizon $20/month to keep the cell connection always available, which I thought might end up happening, but I wasn’t sure. I don’t generally stream much video on the iPad in the first place, and I know better than to do it over the cell data connection, so I expect to not have a problem eating up my data allotment. It’ll just be a device I can always reliably use, anywhere I go, just like my phone. But better because of that huge, gorgeous screen which makes so many apps a delight to use. I really wish I could finish this reply and go read a book or comic or magazine on my iPad instead of getting back to work. Hey, I think I have a work book I’m in the middle of…

      • Ellen Wilkin says:

        Wow! You use your iPad with connectivity a lot. I don’t think I would ever want that much. But thanks for the run-down, I appreciate the details. I’m about to start using Dave’s Kindle Fire and it will be interesting to see if my needs change…

  3. David2 says:

    So, we have an article written by an idiot, about idiots, doing idiotic things.

    GEEZ.
    I’m sure it’s the fault of Apple and the cell provider that these people are doing stupid things, too. Why, I’ll bet no one ever told them to use wireless when possible to avoid hitting your cell data cap. Well, not more than six or seven times.

    The one at the “coffee shop” just kills me. I’m sure there are coffee shops without wireless, but I haven’t seen one in a long time. I mean, even the nearly-dead shopping malls have free public wireless.

    It’s a good thing there’s nothing important going on for the reporter to report on so we can get hard-hitting informative articles like this one.

    I suppose it’s theoretically possible that the posted it with their tongues planted cheekside so that we could all feel amused and superior…but I wouldn’t wager on it.

    • scrooks says:

      Well, to be fair, with the coffee shop dude it was mentioned that the wifi there was really terrible and that’s why he used the cell network.

      I think the whole point of the story, starting with the title, was link bait. And damn if it didn’t work.

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