Get a MiFi without the monthly data plan charges: Pay as you go!

I love my MiFi! However, the minute I tell people about it they get turned off when they hear that it runs $60/month. Luckily for me this road warrior perk provided by my employer. Even though I couldn't think of going on a trip without it, I can certainly see how someone that doesn't travel as often as I do, wanting the convenience of a MiFi. It's easy for me to justify a MiFi for work: At $60/month I look at it as that's 6 nights worth of hotel internet at $9.99/night (and that's if you're lucky. Yes I know some hotels offer it free, but most don't). So if I use my MiFi at least 6 nights a month instead of hotel internet it's a wash. Let's say you don't travel much. However, when you do travel you want the freedom of having your own mobile hotspot without paying a monthly fee or the ridiculous tethering charges that AT&T and others charge to use your smartphone as a modem. 

 

Virgin Mobile Has the Right Idea

Pay as you go! Buy a MiFi from them for $150 (great price). Then only pay for it when you need to use it:

Even the 30 days/300MB at $20 option is probably more than most people would need for a two-four week trip. 

 

If I suddenly found myself having to pay for a MiFi out of my own pocket, I wouldn't think twice about going this route. I don't use it every day and this way I can buy the device once and use it/pay for it when I need it.

Check it out here.

Thanks goes out to Jim Nichols for the lead to this offering.

What Do You Want In An iPad Photo Management App?

With Lightroom 3 out the door and now that I'm back from HOW Design Conference, I can start to look forward at upcoming technology, gadgets and projects. While I was at HOW I had the ear of Adobe's Tablet Application Project Manager, John Nack. On Friday, John asked via his blog what people might want in an Lightroom type app for the iPad? Since I reach a ton of iPad users here, I thought I would solicit your feedback and pass it on to John and team.

 

Two Camps

When I talk to iPad users about this, I get lots of different ideas on what they want and I've summarized them here with two options.

OPTION ONE: There are currently two lines of thought on what photographers really want in an iPad app. If we start with Lightroom's current five modules, we have Library, Develop, Slideshow, Print and Web. One school of thought (the one that I'm in) is that you bring in your photos via the iPad Camera Connection Kit (I reviewed it here) and then you're able to do Library Module type things to them. ie. add keywords, titles, descriptions, picks, flags, stars and possibly even put them in collections. You could also do Develop module type things like Exposure, Noise Reduction, Cropping, etc. Once you get back to your computer, you would connect your iPad via the USB cable (don't scream WiFi because again we can only do what we're allowed to do) and sync everything to your computer right into the desktop version. 

OPTION TWO: The other school of thought is to go the other way. Start in Lightroom on the desktop, and sync your catalogs/collections to the iPad for client review and showing your mobile portfolio. Perhaps you'd still have access to Library like functions while your client reviews with you, that sync back to the desktop version.

Personally I think that no matter what, we should have a slideshow feature with music too. However, we also have to keep in mind that Apple doesn't take to kindly to "duplicating" built-in functionality. So again, our hands may be tied in many things we want to do.

 

So what do you want?

Sound off in the comments below.  Also what's the right price for such an App? Um, duh, yeah free is great, but what if it's not? How much is the right price?

 

By the way, there are no promises here. There are lots of technical limitations to overcome and even then if such an App were to be built, it would still have to be approved by Apple. So keep that in mind. For those of you thinking, "how hard can it be?" You might want to take a look at this post.

AT&T Pulls a Switcheroony – New Data Plans, no longer unlimited!

It seemed like only last week when I shared my 1st month of iPad data use with you all. I started out with the 250MB/month iPad plan knowing that I could always upgrade to the unlimited data plan if I needed to. Now it looks as if the unlimited plan is going away unless you act TODAY! Starting today, AT&T will start NEW data plans for ALL Smart phone devices (including iPad/iPhone). So if you already bought an iPad 3G and thought that you might some day want to go "UNLIMITED" for $29.99/month, then you better do it now, because starting today that plan goes away for NEW subscribers. Here's the break down:

 

The OLD Plans (prior to 6/7/2010) iPad – 250 MB/month $14.99/month Unlimited Data Plan $29.99/month
The OLD iPhone Plans iPhone 2G UNLIMITED+200 SMS  Data  $20/month iPhone 3G/3GS Unlimited Data $30/month (+$5/month for 200 SMS)
The NEW Data Plans starting TODAY for NEW accounts (iPhones too) DataPlus 200MB/month $15/month DataPro 2GB/month $25/month
Tethering your SmartPhone (iPhone with 4.0 software)   DataPro plan $25 + Tethering $20 = $45/month

 

 

While the prices are technically cheaper, Unlimited goes away! 2GB's sounds like a lot and it probably is for MOST people, but if you plan to stream video on your device 2GB in a month can be eaten up pretty quickly. These new plans now make it so that you have to monitor your usage closely. Luckily if you do go over, you're not charged a per kilobyte fee. Instead you'll be able to add on another block of usage for a set price (another 200MB for $15 or if you're on the DataPro plan you get another 1GB for $10). So again if you do a lot of streaming, your bill could be quite high. I should also mention that all of these NEW plans do come with FREE access to any AT&T WiFi hotspots.

No iPad to iPhone tethering, yetAccording to AT&T, they have no problem with you tethering your iPad to your iPhone to share the iPhone's data connection. However, currently the iPad doesn't support it in it's OS and Apple says that the 4.0 OS update isn't coming to the iPad until the fall. So we may have to wait til then to see if the iPad will tether to the iPhone.

See the AT&T Plan details here on their site.

 

How much Data have I used on my iPhone or other smartphone?

Although you can look this info up on your device, I find the most accurate way is to dial *3282# from your phone and you'll get a text message with the break down of your current usage.

 

Don't think you're going to use that much data?

Maybe you won't, but here's some food for thought. If you're just doing normal surfing, email, etc. then you're probably fine. However, let's not forget that iTunes sells and rents MOVIES! The average movie size is 1.5GB. So if you rent a movie over 3G, you could quickly hit the limit of the DataPro plan and then start having to pay for additional 1GB blocks at $10 a pop before your next billing cycle. I know it's easy to say, "well don't do that. Download your movies while you're on WiFi." However, this wasn't an issue yesterday and now somehow makes the mobile platforms seem a little less fun.

 

What do you think of these New Plans?

I only used 171MBs of 3G data in the first month of iPad use

When I got my iPad WiFi+3G back on April 30th, I resisted signing up for the Unlimited 3G Data Plan ($29.99/month). Since there is no contract and you can upgrade or downgrade at any time I wanted to see if I could get by on the 250MB/month Plan ($14.99/month). My thought was "why pay more up front when you're not sure how much you're really going to use?". I was right! In the first month I used my iPad as much as I needed to/wanted to on 3G. The rest of the time I was on WiFi or traveling abroad and using it on WiFi. I only used 171MB in the first month. So technically I saved $14.99 by NOT doing the impulse thing and signing up for the Unlimited Plan right off the bat. Now that's not to say that I wan't have some months where I need more 3G data and if I do, I'll purchase more at that time. However, today I feel like I just saved $14.99 by not giving it to AT&T up front.

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Apple iPad Review: WiFi+3G Model

When the Apple iPad WiFi model shipped I did a pretty in-depth review of it, which you can see here. Therefore the purpose of today's review is focus primarily on the 3G capabilities. (and yes that's a custom Gelaskin on the back because that's just how I roll 🙂 )

 

Which model did I go with?

I had planned all along to go with the 16GB WiFi model for testing and reviewing and then get the 64GB WiFi+3G model for my own use. That's exactly what I did. Although I don't "need" 64GB's of space for my info and media content, I do plan to use the iPad for field backup of my photos and instant touch up and sharing using the iPad Camera Connection Kit. I typically shoot to either 8GB or 16GB memory cards and almost never fill them up in one day. After loading everything on the iPad that I wanted to have on it  (including a couple of movies), I still had over 32GBs of free space. That will be plenty for photo backup each day of shooting. My wife claimed the 16GB WiFi version in case you were wondering.

 

What's different on the outside?

Not much. The only two visual differences on the outer case are the black bar across the top for the antennas/GPS support and the MicroSIM tray on the left side. Otherwise it's visually identical to the WiFi model. 

 

What's different on the inside?

The obvious and biggest difference on the inside is that the WiFi+3G models include 3G wireless technology to allow you to connect to the internet pretty much anywhere there is GSM cell service. The other difference is that these models also include a real GPS chip. So while the WiFi mode can detect your location based on available WiFi signals, the WiFi+3G model can do so based on GPS satellites, cell towers AND WiFi signals. This also means that it's capable of running turn-by-turn GPS navigation apps although it may be a bit conspicuous on your dashboard. 🙂

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iPad Camera Connection Kit Review

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFtx9HzM-lE

 

As a photographer one of the iPad accessories I was most anticipating was the iPad Camera Connection Kit. This kit consists of TWO adapters that connect right to the iPad's Dock connector. The first one is a standard SD (SDHC) Memory Card reader. You connect it to your iPad and then insert a memory card with images/videos on it and transfer those images to your iPad. No software to install because the iPad already has this ability built-in to the Photos App. The second adapter has a standard USB port on the oppositie end of the Dock connector. With this one you can not only connect your camera via USB and transfer images directly, but as my video above shows you can even use a Card Reader with it! This overcomes (although not as elegantly) the problem of wanting to use Compact Flash or other card formats. 

 

How does it work?

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Creating My 1st iBook for the iPad with Adobe InDesign CS5

These are exciting times in the publishing industry! The tools have never been better to get your word out. With the introduction of Adobe Creative Suite 5 and in particular InDesign CS5, my head is spinning thinking about all the possibilities. I can use one industry standard app to publish for Print, for the Web with NEW Interactive features and now more easily than ever to standard eBook Reader formats such as ePUB. There’s also a lot of excitement around the Apple iPad. The beauty here is that I can use my new found publishing power and Apple’s popular device to get my content in front of more eyeballs than ever.

 

The Project

As you may know I co-authored one of the best selling books for the iPhone, “The iPhone Book”. I’ve been very happy with the success of that book and of course as soon as the iPad was introduced, many eyes turned towards me to question if I was going to write a book for this new device. While the project seemed interesting (and still is), I wanted to try something a little different this time around. I wanted the iPad Book to be an iBook on the actual iPad. All of my books are already being laid out in Adobe InDesign. So there’s nothing new there, except there is something new there in terms of capabilities. The enhanced capabilities around the ePUB format and Interactive Document publishing beyond PDF. So I wanted to do two things: I wanted to get a sample out there of what an iPad book on the iPad and I wanted to experience first hand what it was like to create one from scratch using InDesign CS5. So I enlisted the help of my colleague at Adobe, Colin Fleming (eBOOK guru) and Colin gave me the inside scope and even some sample demo documents that he had put together. This was a great jump start and helped me avoid some stumbling blocks. Yesterday, I started my sample “25 iPad Tips” and today I have a FREE iBook that you can download right here.

 

The Making of my 1st iBook (ePUB)

The iBooks App on the iPad reads standard ePUB documents and Adobe InDesign CS5 just so happens to export them out directly. Great! There are some limitations that you have to be mindful in your document itself. These are limitations on the standard more so than of InDesign. For example, InDesign is an amazingly powerful page layout application that pretty much allows you do do anything you want on the page. However, ePUB has limitations on how the content has to flow to make it possible to have this single document on a multitude of different devices. I recorded this video to walk you through some of those things to look out for:

 

 

Downloading and Installing my FREE “25 iPad Tips” Book

The first step is to download my ePUB file here. Once you download the ZIP file, unzip it and you’ll have a short readme.txt file and the actual “25 iPad Tips.epub” document. Open iTunes 9.1 and higher and simply drag the ePUB into the Library area of iTunes on the left side. It should now appear in the Books Area of iTunes and once you plug in your iPad via the USB cable, you can select it as a book to sync in the Books Tab in iTunes. Enjoy!

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Apple iPad Review: WiFi Model

It's here! I just spent the weekend with my New Apple iPad: 16GB  WiFi model (I'll also review the WiFi+3G model when it ships) and wanted to give you my in-depth review. It's exciting! As a matter of fact my buddy Bruce was waiting at his office on Saturday for his iPad to be delivered and when the UPS guy got there, they started talking and the UPS guy shared with him how people were following him in their cars and begging him to give them their iPads early before getting to their homes. I can't think of too many products that cause this kind of frenzy. See my Unboxing Video here (it's different than any other iPad unboxing video you've seen 😉 ) On to the review and keep in mind that I've only had the iPad for two days, so I haven't touched every single feature yet, but here's what I've seen and touched so far…

The Hardware

The iPad is another example of Apple's attention to detail. Everything from the packaging to the actual design of the device is top notch. There are just a few hardware buttons. The home button is there just like on the iPhone and iPod touch as well as hardware buttons for the volume controls on the right side, on/off switch on top, a screen/rotation lock on the right and built-in speaker on the bottom as well as headphone jack and microphone on top.

My first impression when I picked it up out of the box was "it feels heavy!" Although it's only 1.5 lbs, I was looking at it from a "hold it with one hand while reading" angle. Since it's a book reader, I would want to hold it with one hand while flipping the pages with the other. I would be easily fatigued if I had to hold it in one hand for more than a few minutes. Holding it with two hands won't be an issue and holding it with one hand as long as you have your knee or a table to rest on should be fine.

The iPad comes with a USB sync/charging cable and a wall charger. 

It's FAST! The iPad is VERY RESPONSIVE. I haven't seen any lags whatsoever. Photos, Apps and everything I've tried so far have been very speedy!

Battery Life – So far so good. Keep in mind that testing for a weekend is not real-world regular use. However,  I can easily see this thing going for 10 hours straight. I haven't run it all the way down yet, so I'll have to report back later on the actual battery life I get when I using it under normal conditions. Also very few will run it for 10 hours straight without a break.

Wi-Fi – The iPad takes advantage of 802.11n. So both range and network speed are GREAT! I must also remind you that this is the WiFi version and therefore will only connect to the internet via a WiFi hotspot. I know that sounds like a "duh" statement, but there seems to be a lot of confusion over the difference between the two models: WiFi and the WiFi+3G model that's coming out later this month.

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