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    Weekend Tech Scan: Decisions, decisions: Buy the new iPad? Password-protect your smartphone?

    The joys, and perils, of technology were seen this week with the introduction of the new iPad, and a report on how poorly we protect our smartphones from prying eyes.

    A crowd arrives for an Apple press conference in California announcing the new iPad, which hits stores March 16 and can be pre-ordered

    A crowd arrives for an Apple press conference in California announcing the new iPad, which hits stores March 16 and can be pre-ordered Dave Schumacher/Flickr (CC)

    iPad 2

    iPad 2

    Two different issues surfaced this week regarding technology issues that we hold near and dear: the introduction of the newest Apple iPad, and a sensational story from the anti-virus/security company Symantec about what happens when people lose their smartphones.

    Both involve decisions that will affect the way you work and play. In the case of the iPad, it'll be primarily a financial decision; for your smart phone, it will be a functional decision that will both help and annoy you.

    Let's start with the new iPad, which will hit stores next Friday (March 16), and whether you should keep your existing iPad or go for the upgrade.

    While Apple fanatics may object to the phrase “marginal upgrade,” this was a marginal upgrade.  All the changes were inside; to the eye, it looks identical to other iPads except it’s slightly heavier than the iPad2, but weighs the same as the original iPad. (Follow all that?)

    A quick tech rundown (skip ahead if this is boring): It has a higher-resolution screen: the same retina display now in use on the iPhone 4 and 4S that is sharper and clearer than your home HD TV set (2048x1536 pixels versus your TV’s 1920x1080 count).

    Its quad-core graphics processor is allegedly four times as fast as the iPad 2. The camera is now a better 5-megapixel external camera.  For those who want constant, everywhere cellular network service, 4G LTE connectivity is built in; models will be available from both AT&T and Verizon.  And it will be slightly thicker and heavier — returning back to the original iPad’s specs — because of the bigger battery. Apple claims you’ll have 10 hours of continuous use; nine hours if you’re using your data plan instead of WiFi.

    Prices on the new iPad (by the way, that is how it’s known, not the “iPad3”) start at $499 for WiFi only and $599 for WiFi plus 4G LTE service. Here’s a complete specifications list and a more techie review.  And here’s a tech comparison between the iPad 2 and new iPad.

    Should you buy one? That’s always the question with Apple when it does incremental upgrades and it’s not an easy choice. Perhaps by asking yourself a few questions, you’ll a better idea if this is for you.

    1) What do I use my tablet for?  If you’re not a power user or intense gamer, if you don’t need the preciseness of a super-high-resolution screen for photo editing or artwork, there’s probably little reason for you to upgrade. More computing power for most people ends up as a marketing gimmick: unless you have an app that needs all the power of a quad-core processor, there’s isn’t much for you here. If you’re a book reader, do email, watch Netflix, HBO Go or similar pastime, you’ll probably get little benefit from the newest version.

    And if you're primarily a home user and not a road warrior, why on earth do you need a cell phone connection built in?

    2) Do I need a good camera on an iPad? The upgraded camera is an interesting development. It begs the question of how many of you are likely to pick up your iPad to take pictures of baby’s first walk, or drag it outdoors to shoot beauty shots at Pike Place Market. If you’re a physician, or an engineer, and you’re looking to enhance a study, perhaps it’s useful to have a higher quality camera on board than the camera already on the iPad2.

    3) Am I an intense gamer? I still own an original iPad, and unless I’m playing some incredibly power-hungry game — something I rarely do —  there’s no reason for me to have the excess power in the new iPad. 

    4) Can I save a buck by buying an iPad2 instead of the new iPad?  Indeed you can.  Apple is selling a 16 gigabyte(gb) iPad2 for $399; refurbished 16 gb iPads in the Apple store are selling for $349.  For the price of a new 16gb iPad you can buy a refurbished iPad with twice the memory capacity.

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    Posted Sun, Mar 11, 4:24 p.m. Inappropriate

    Speaking as a former IT professional, I am appalled at the idea of sensitive data being stored on a device that could be easily lost or accessed. It was all the laptops with customer data that got stolen that made me close my account at Bank of America, not the onerous fees (which I was mostly able to avoid).

    I guess I shouldn't be surprised that twenty years after it first became a problem, data security is still a concept no business (never mind individuals) seems able to grasp. I guess the upside of being poor is I don't have any money to spend, so I don't have to give any information to some business that is so cavalier in its treatment of it...


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