Fáilte Romhat, iPad, go hÉireann

Today the iPad is being launched in Ireland. So while you are queuing outside your local Currys or PC World to get your hands on one, I thought I’d give you something to read!

I bought my iPad in America in April.  The 3G model wasn’t out at the time and I bought the cheapest model available – the 16GB version for $499.  In Ireland, it’s being sold for €499, slightly more.  Having looked at the price plans for the 3G version for O2 and Vodafone, I’m kinda glad I was so impulsive.

It seems it’s going to cost €19.90 per month for 5GB of bandwidth with O2 and €20 per month for the same with Vodafone.  I’m happy enough to pull out my iPhone for Internet access if my iPad isn’t in a wifi zone at those prices!

Anyway, if you feel that these prices are reasonable, the minimum price a 3G iPad will cost you is €599.  As storage doubles, add €100 for each step up to the maximum of 64GB.

So why would you want to part with almost 2 weeks wages for a giant iPod Touch, as it’s been dubbed by some?

For me, there’s a number of reasons all of which are completely unimportant but very cool.  Firstly it looks amazing.  The minute you see it, you’ll fall in love.  Secondly, it is really fast.  Apps load a hell of a lot quicker than they do on the iPhone.  Thirdly, everything looks so much nicer.  All my apps without exception look and feel better on the iPad. Fourthly, I have instant access to the web.  I don’t have to wait for 30 seconds while it boots up out of hibernation – it’s just always ready.  Fifthly, it’s got a great battery life.  I have used it for a week before needing to charge it.

What apps do I use? The ones I use most for my personal life are Tweetdeck, Facebook, YouTube, Mail, Flipboard, VNC Viewer, Amazon Kindle, iBooks and Boggle (the dice-cum-board game).  I adore Boggle.  I am on my third book on the iPad and, yes, it is really easy to read on the screen.  My iPhone seems fiddly to use in comparison.

For work, the iPad has essentially replaced my Filofax.  At a touch (or a swipe) I have complete access to every single piece of information in the school, including policies, documents, contacts, etc.  This is because I have access to the wifi in my school and therefore access to the cloud system we have in place.  I can check how many children are absent on any given day.  I can make appointments to meet people quickly.  I can set targets and agendas for meetings.  It is brilliant.

However, most of my work isn’t administrative.  The vast majority of my work involves teaching children and I have downloaded and used a number of apps to help children learn.  I’ll go through some of them here very briefly:

  • FlashToPass – this is a really simple app that tests children’s ability in their maths tables.  They have to answer 50 questions at a particular level in as quick a time as possible.
  • Toy Story – Mine and the children’s favourite app.  It’s essentially an interactive reading book.  Children can listen to and read the story.  They can record themselves reading the story.  There’s a couple of songs to learn, a few pages to colour in and some games to play.  Not bad for free and kids love it.
  • AlphabetRacing – A nice way to teach handwriting for letters of the alphabet and digits.  I used this with some Junior Infant children and it was great to see how they learned the direction of writing.  They used their finger to write, which added a different element to things.
  • Pollock – Basically a canvas to spill paint on, Jackson Pollock style.  Great for mess-free art though I prefer the real mess on paper!
  • Tweetdeck – We used this app during our Twitter experiments, which went really well.

There’s a number of apps I’d like to use in the coming year as they look great!

  • Stanza/iBooks/Kindle – for reading
  • CityMaps2Go – for geography
  • Google Earth – for satellite images of where we are
  • Maps – for direction and mapping
  • Skype – for voice calls – due to no front facing camera
  • Boggle/Scrabble – for fun and word building
  • MindFire – great puzzle game for older children to make 24 from any 4 numbers
  • JamPad – a virtual piano keyboard for music
  • Pet the Animals – nice for younger children to recognise the sounds animals make
  • Dictionary – fairly self explanatory

Well whatever you do with your new iPad, enjoy it.  I have no regrets.  I use it every day and every night.  It will be the best impulse buy you’ll ever make.  Now get back to the queue – it’s not long now!

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