The iPad is great for content consumption, such as gaming or web browsing, but I’m still having trouble with content creation. I picked up the Pixelmator app and it’s neat, but I still prefer photo editing with the power and precision of a desktop. I played around with Garage Band, and I enjoyed the autoplay feature, but I’m still more of a photographer than a musician.
Photography is where I saw the iPad Air 2 shine. The 8 megapixel camera is good and the large screen helps with composing shots. With the DMD Panorama and AutoStitch apps, I was able to create high-quality panoramas in seconds. The iPad Air 2 has three cores and double the memory of the previous model, enabling the iPad Air 2 to really power through complicated tasks. Shooting video and stills was also fun with the iPad. I used to think it was awkward to take pictures with an iPad, but now I can see the appeal. Yes, it still looks goofy, but it’s fun.
Even though I still prefer a desktop for productivity, my iPad is now a desktop companion. During December, the “Duet Display” app became available. It let me turn my iPad into a second monitor. The direct USB connection minimizes lag. Before buying an iPad, I looked at high-resolution monitors. I wasn’t too happy with what I saw. Supposedly, my old Mac Mini can support up to a 2560 by 1600 pixel display. A monitor in that range could easily exceed the cost of an iPad.
The new 5K iMac looked impressive to me, but I don’t want to waste $2,500 on a new computer. Ultra-High Definition (UHD) displays will likely drop in price. (A 50″ 1080p LED TV for $199 is proof of that.) Using an iPad as a second monitor feels like a good stopgap. Now I can take Retina quality screenshots (which could be quite useful for future textbook projects) without having to spend a lot of money on a new monitor. I did spend about $10 on a stand from Anker. Duet Display felt more comfortable with the iPad standing upright.
The iPad Air 2 has a resolution of 2048 x 1536. When working along side my 1280 x 1024 desktop monitor, that’s a lot of working space. I’m still stuck working in a 4:3 ratio. That’s OK though, because I can use my iPad to remotely connect to my Mac Mini. The screens lineup nicely. Using an app called Remoter VNC, I can run OS X on my iPad. This setup still leaves me longing for my keyboard, but remote access can be handy.
When I first opened the iPad Air 2 box, part of me wondered, “Where’s the rest of it?” It’s quite thin. And at first, it seemed that the iPad was also thin on usefulness. But as I keep using the iPad, I keep finding more and more things to do with it.