It’s been over a week since I got the BSNL 3G SIM Card to work on the iPad. So has it really been the ‘magical and revolutionary product at an unbelievable price’, as advertised? The price part first- since I got it in India through a US-visiting friend of friend, I was OK in the price front. Some of the prices quoted for the same product on eBay India border on the ridiculous (by the way, there is an iPhone 4 listed for 82K over at eBay India!). However, even at a decent price, be prepared for expenses.
What are the drawbacks?
Connectivity: there is enough to do with an iPad when it’s offline (no, not use it as a tray) – read books, play the piano, draw or paint, play games, watch or listen to a podcast, listen to music…and so on. What makes it an even better deal is constant connectivity. I have a wifi connection at home and the BSNL 3G SIM card is pretty good wherever it works. But it is not seamless while on the road and breaks into Edge mode in some places – especially the suburbs. In Mumbai, I got 3G coverage only from the airport to Bandra and got Edge coverage in Nariman Point. So when you want to show off the IMDB app to Apple skeptics, it could turn into an unspectacular event.
Micro SIM: Getting the regular SIM card to work on the iPad is a task in itself. There are tutorials available online but cutting a SIM is not for the faint hearted. I bought a micro SIM cutter on the web and had it shipped. So unless you are willing to risk cutting up a SIM or paying money for a micro SIM cutter maybe it’s wise to wait for an official India launch.
Data usage: Some of the stuff, like magazines, weigh in at over 300MB an issue. Ditto for some apps like The Guinness Book of World Records. Some apps like The Guardian Eyewitness, download content only if you are on a Wi-Fi connection as it consumes huge bandwidth.
Average cost of App: the good iPad-optimized apps cost a little bit more than the average iPhone app. While some are over-priced (hoping to cash in on the novelty factor of iPad, I guess) the essential ones – Newsrack, selling at $4.99 or Word Magic (I have a little daughter) selling at $0.99 – are worth every penny.
Has it affected usage of other devices? Thanks to the iPad, time spent on my Macbook has come down. It’s a pleasure browsing news sites, checking mail, watching podcasts, videos and playing around with the apps. Most of the apps look gorgeous – check out the 1000 Ultimate Experiences ($3.99 – iTunes link) by Lonely Planet (452MB!) to see what I mean:
All said, I can’t replace my Macbook with an iPad just as yet. Work like creating & editing documents, writing a blog post with lots of links, and downloading videos or simply being able to be online without an interruption require me to access a full-fledged laptop still. Writing a post on WordPress for iPad and linking a sentence to a hyperlink means quitting the WordPress app, finding the link on Safari and then pasting it over at WP. Pretty cumbersome. While I can create presentations through the Keynote app ($9.99), the lack of a file system whereby you can access old files/references means one has to rely on a laptop of desktop.
So what need does the iPad fill? Since India specific content is not huge yet and I don’t have videos or movies purchased on iTunes as yet, it pretty much is only for browsing internet content. The apps make the user experience even better. As has been said by several tech gurus earlier, it is kind of evolving it’s own market, it’s own usage. It is a computing accompaniment? My wife would change it to computing companion, though.