A few years ago I worked for a guy who had a very large bird that had full access to the office. Visitors would come in and the bird would have to extract a little blood from your hand, finger, ankle or other body part before you really became friends. Birds hate change. The bird also had a seldom used cage but every now and then, I would put a toy in the cage and this huge bird would cower to a far corner for a few days until it built up the courage to attack the toy and rip it to shreds. Did I mention that birds do not like change? Many of us are resistant to change just like birds, but with the advent of the iPad, smartphones, smartpads and Bluetooth technology, it is time to embrace these incredible devices and get out of the corner of our cages.
iPads and other smart devices are reasonably priced and allow us to access the Internet, email and do many other things almost anywhere in the world. If you are planning a vacation, do you really want to lug around a laptop, case, charger and the other necessities through airport security, on the plane, off the plane and to our hotel? iPads and similar smart devices are a great alternative to these issues. There are applications or apps that will allow us to do almost anything from making certain the garage door is closed to turning off the home security system for unexpected guests to recording “Survivor” if we forget to set the DVR before we leave. You can even stream videos to a Bluetooth capable television if you have the right app and a little time to set it up. These devices can enhance our quality of life, but are they right for you?
One of the biggest issues I hear from iPad and smart device users is the speed of videos and Internet browsing when using them with home wireless networks. These devices are designed to run on a 3G or 4G network, which most cell phone provider networks will offer. The 3G or 4G designation is derived from a complicated formula, but basically they deliver a very fast signal to your device and allow you to view streaming video content or Internet websites at a much higher rate than your standard home G or N network. Smart devices will operate on a home network, but when viewing past episodes of “Judge Judy,” you will be barraged by the endless circle icon representing the buffering needed to send the signal to your device in order for you to view it. Suffice to say that when using these devices, it is generally better to subscribe to one of the many 3G or 4G providers. You will be much happier and you will not be tethered to your home network.
If you have issues using the scribe or tapping out letters on the smart device keyboard, you may want to try using a USB wireless mouse and keyboard. They help eliminate typos when you have ingested a few Red Bulls or have shaky hands. The salespeople will be more than happy to show you all the accessories that could make your smart device more user-friendly.
As mentioned earlier, there are apps that allow you to do most anything with your smart device from remembering where you parked your car to checking a seat location in Chase Field. Just remember when adding apps to your smart device, there are limits to how much data you can store on your device and also you may incur additional charges if you spend the afternoon downloading new apps. Check with your 3G or 4G carrier to avoid getting hit with unexpected charges at the end of the month.
Mike Smothers is president of Smothers Computer Services in Ahwatukee Foothills. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (480) 753-7667.