The iPad and iPad2: They’re great for fun and passing the time, but not much for productivity

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The iPad and iPad2: They’re great for fun and passing the time, but not much for productivity
By Ray Hanania — I write five columns each week, two for the Jerusalem Post and Creators Syndicate on Middle East topics and three for local Chicagoland newspapers. I also write six blogs on specialty issues (, and more).

That’s in addition to the high intensity media and press release writing I do for a half dozen clients, including several that are constantly in the news.

I purchased and iPad earlier this year believing that I could take my writing more mobile. The iPad had something I couldn’t easily or affordably get from my reliable Dell laptop, nationwide wireless service. Oh, they do offer nationwide wireless through the Clear network and others. But the charge is over $50 a month. That’s felony grand theft. Way too much, especially considering I already pay for a cell phone and Internet access in the home. So far, no one has come up with a consolidation plan to let me get one nationwide wirless service for the cell, the home, and the computer. Affordable.

Internet access for the iPad is only $25 a month. So it was a natural.

But when it comes to writing, no matter what the App that you download (free or for purchase), the touch screen keyboard is unreliable.

I even moved up to an iPad2 thinking it would improve. Well, the iPad2 has new gizmos on it — mainly the camera (front and back) but not much else. No worry though for me. My son and wife love the first iPad and they use it often for productive things like playing Angry Birds, skeetball and some puzzle games. Yes, the iPad is very good if you have time to kill and want to entertain yourself. You can even watch a movie on it, if you could get the iPad to more easily load your movies without having to pay the exorbitant prices from iTunes.

But for me, it is all about writing.

The iPad2 has the restrictions imposed by the late megalomaniac Steve Jobs who spent his life trying to do everything he could to control your life. He wanted to control everything for computer consumers and eliminate the need for you to have a brain where you might think for yourself. Why do that? Making his 1984 commercial a real farce. Steve Jobs was more about Big Brother than Big Brother himself. In fact, Big Brother could have learned a few things about how to more efficiently control people from Steve Jobs, the master controller.

One of the biggest disadvantages for the iPad2 user is the on-screen keyboard. It doesn’t work unless you are a slow and cumbersome typist. I type fast, at “the speed of media” which means that I write to keep up with the requirements of producing news and opinion content. When you get into the fast-paced typing speeds, the iPad simply can’t register the letters fast enough. So you end up with jambalaya text. Parts of words strung together without spaces — the least sensitive in the space bar. So if you plan on using the iPad to type live comments from someone you are interviewing, it’s not good enough.

Worse is the problem with iTunes and the management of the content on your iPad. I have purchased many writing Apps. None of them fulfill my needs at all. I have one called iA Writer, which I have found comes close. But still, the keyboard is deficient. It lacks all the keys I need so I am constantly having to have to switch screens in the middle of writing from letters to numbers and characters. Some characters you must have in writing and many are on the iA Writer Keyboard without having to switch. But not enough.

Obviously, no one at Apple knows how to write to communicate. They can’t even write an operating manual. There is none to be found anywhere.

I do like the iPad2 as a new way to read books. I can set the brightness and contrast and even the size of the letters. That brightness makes it easier to read. So, instead of writing myself, I am relegated with the iPad to reading everyone else’s writings. I guess that would be great if I were a megalomaniac computer Big Brother tyrant. But I am not. I have more respect for the needs of human beings. Simple things, like being able to communicate efficiently.

There are no Apps that allow me to easily post to my blogs. Apple hates Windows and PCs so the iPad doesn’t work well with (which is owned by Google) and it doesn’t allow Flash because Steve Jobs had a hard-on for Adobe. I hate Adobe, too, but not enough to have gone to war with them. I am forced to use their PDF reader and Flash, which is one of the most efficient onscreen video systems available. Everyone uses it, except for Apple maniacs.

So when it comes to writing, — I’ve won many awards including 4 Lisagor Awards, a Sigma Delta Chi Award and being named Best Ethnic Columnist in America from the New America Media, among others — I have to turn to my laptop.

I did waste $99 plus tax to purchase an iPad2 keyboard, which makes the tablet format bulky and difficult to hold. It seems to me that if I have to make the iPad into a laptop just to do quality writing, doesn’t that defeat the whole concept of the tablet design?

The iPad does have one other redeeming value, though, that the laptops lack. It has a battery that last up to 8 hours or more. My laptop only lasts about 2 hours. Despite the Dell Propaganda that it will last up to 5 hours, it does not.

So, I will look foolish connecting the iPad2 keyboard to the iPad2 using Bluetooth, and also charging both with separate chargers — why can’t they both charge together when connected? It doesn’t make sense. But nothing computer techies design makes sense because in truth, computer techies are not human beings. They are Martians without brains. And they don’t know squat about the real needs of the average consumer, and a few who are not so average, too.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist and radio talk show host. Reach him at

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This post has already been read 2533 times!

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning political columnist and author. He covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).

Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at, and at, and at He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper,, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.

The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.

Click here to send Ray Hanania and email.

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Visit this link to read Ray's column archive at the ArabNews,com
Ray Hanania