The iPad can't print? Your momma can't dance, either.
Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983


What you don't know about the iPad

Jan. 16, 2011

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2011, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2011, The Post-Standard

   Myths about Apple's iPad are all over the web. People I meet tell me the iPad can't do this thing or the other.
   Rubbish. Hogwarts. I mean hogwash.
   Let's take a look at the five biggest myths and see why they are wrong.
     ⌦ 1. The iPad can't do Flash.
   This is like saying a Corvette can't haul 4X8 pieces of lumber. Of course it can't. That's because the Corvette was designed to do other things. The iPad was designed for safety and resistance to crashes. Flash, the method many older websites use to show video, was designed for neither of those things. So the iPad shows other, safer kinds of video -- HTML5 video and MP4 video, for example.
   Is this a great loss? No, it's a decision from Apple that protects iPad users. And guess what? YouTube, the No. 1 video site worldwide, sends iPads a non-Flash version of any video whenever possible. Automatically, too. I've never had a problem viewing a video on YouTube with my iPad. There's even a YouTube app (program) at the App Store.
   As for sites that don't care about safety, they'll have to wise up before long, too. Apple, second largest company in the world and the biggest player in the video business, has stopped putting Flash on Macs, and Microsoft has decided to make HTML5 its biggest video priority.
     ⌦ 2. The iPad doesn't have a USB connection. Nonsense. To keep the iPad's case simple as well as beautiful, Apple put the iPad's USB connector inside the standard dock connector on one of the short sides of the iPad. You simply plug in Apple's USB plug to turn that connector into a USB jack. The USB converter is part of Apple's camera connection kit for the iPad. Another part of it is an SD memory card reader.
     ⌦ 3. The iPad can't print. Your momma can't dance, either. The iPad is a wireless device, so all its printing is done wirelessly. This capability is built into the current version of the iPad's main software. You have two ways to print wirelessly -- using a compatible printer (Epson and HP have them now, and all other major printer companies will jump on board soon), or using software on your Mac or Windows PC that enables wireless sharing of any printer plugged into your Mac or PC. (Make sure your iPad has the current software by plugging it into your Mac or PC and using iTunes to check for updates.)
   The Mac software is Printopia, from www.ecamm.com/mac/printopia. For the Windows version, go here: http://tinyurl.com/27j6kol.
     ⌦ 4. The iPad can't use any directly connected (non-wireless) peripherals. Hooey. You can plug any thumb drive into an iPad using the camera kit adaptor from Apple, for one thing. And you can connect any audio device, such as a microphone or headset that connects by USB. You can hook up a projector, using the VGA adaptor from Apple. Any keyboard can connect, too, although you probably should consider the Apple iPad keyboard dock, which has an excellent keyboard, a connector and an upright holder, or the Apple Bluetooth keyboard, which works wirelessly.
   And, if you use a standard powered USB hub like you'd use with any computer, you can plug in external USB speakers that need a lot of power. And I haven't even begun to mention what you can do if you change the built-in operating system using the Cydia method, at http://cydia.saurik.com. It's called "jailbreaking" the iPad, but ignore the scary word; it's totally legal and simple enough for the average blockhead, and means you're letting the iPad run apps that don't come from the Apple App Store.
   With jailbreaking active, you can connect a mouse or a hard drive to your iPad, among other peripherals. More info on jailbreaking can be found at these sites: http://tinyurl.com/2d4q9h9 and http://tinyurl.com/37g25ce. (Note that the iPhone can also be jailbroken, so you'll see references to the iPhone also.)
     ⌦ 5. The iPad doesn't multitask. Pfft! The day I wrote this column, I checked my iPad and found it had 24 apps running at the same time. You can run your mail program, use your Web browser, chat on Facebook, listen to music, read the New York Times, print something and do any number of other things at the same time. (Multitasking was added last November.)