Sunday, March 27, 2011

Quality control

IMG_0147, originally uploaded by gugs.

This is an interesting example: a product made by a well-known european manufacturer. I bought this lamp with a few others and noticed the problem when I was back home. The glass is not only damaged (probably due to shocks during transportation, but also has signs that it has never been completed (melted edge)). There are no small glass pieces inside the package. This could mean that there is no basic quality control, not even a check if the lamp is working on the production line. This seems very strange to me because this is the first time I see such a problem (I must have use/bought hundreds and hundreds of lamps from the same manufacturer without a single problem). Anyway this shows the importance of basic quality control before selling products...

The iPad2 and iOS4.3

So, as everybody knows, the new iPad has been launched, and people are lining up all over the world to get one. Again, I wanted to post my personal view about the evolution.

First the very good things:

I already was very enthusiastic about the iPad as a consulting device and I really think the iPad (and maybe some competing tablets) is a bigger revolution than many suspect. Most computer users in the world are relatively passive (i.e. they typically use a PC to consult information, and sometimes to send a mail, to tweet or to type a short document, but they basically don't use the computer as a creative tool or a production tool). The iPad is a MUCH better device than anything else in the history of computing for those users. That is the reason why I think that some manufacturers could start worrying, because the iPad is a disruptive innovation as big as the CD replacing the LP, or the DVD replacing the VHS. Outside the consumer market, the potential is just huge, many industries starting to see the possibilities of simple apps to handle business processes. In other words, launching the iPad has probably been one of the smartest moves in the history of computing. Another fact is that the iPad has been the first one on the market with a very attractive business model (with iTunes, the available apps, the relative ease of access for developers), and it will be difficult for others to really compete with that eco-system. I don't expect real competitors in the coming two years.

The iPad2 is even better: to me the most convincing elements are the form factor (thinner) and the weight. Even if not exceptionally lighter, this does make a difference. The webcam is a major plus, I have been frustrated with the iPad1 after some months, because I couldn't show my face in skype for instance. More memory is also very welcome, the upper limit being reached very quickly on the original iPad. And an improved speed is also welcome, surfing being a bit slow on certain sites.

The good things:

iOS4.3 brings a few improvements (and a few bug corrections: I would expect MUCH more transparency from Apple about this, because even if we don't have to complain to much compared to the Windows community, the Apple products are definitely not bug free). Improved speed (surfing), the return of the orientation lock button. This was an UNBELIEVABLE basic design flaw in iOS4.2. I cannot understand how the Apple engineers could make such a stupid decision. I have been extremely angry with them after I installed 4.2. Problem solved in the meantime: they seem to listen to their users !

Some other improvements have been made available: Garageband app for iPad, Airplay improved... and a very interesting possibility to use your iPhone as a Wifi router if you don't have the 3G option on the iPad.

The not so good things:

First of all, for original iPad users, wifi problems are still there: wifi perfectly works at home on my router, but when I am traveling, the same HUGE design problem shows again: in every second hotel (approximately) during my last trip, I couldn't get a connection: this is a general problem with all first generation iPads, while other devices (PCs, telephones) could connect without a problem. I really hope Apple has redesigned wifi in the iPad2. I cannot understand why the Apple community is silent about this because every single iPad user I have met (a bit more than 20) had the same problem at the same locations ????

An important update on the wifi issue: after traveling even more, and even going back to one of the places where I first discovered the problem, it seems that the problem has been solved (could it be in the last intermediate release ?) I don't know. I had a few iPad2 users next to me. None of them have experienced the same issue as the iPad1 users. The only remaining small issue is that the iPad needs a stronger signal than other devices. My PC and Macbook were still detecting the network and could get a connection while the iPad was lost (when moving away from the antennas).

The camera on the back of the iPad2 is a nice gadget but I really didn't find a need for this. The iPhone camera is better and I don't see myself holding an iPad in front of me to take pictures... In fact it is a nice gadget to show where you are when chatting, but this was no "urgent" feature we needed.

My conclusion:
The iPad is not without flaws but it is by far the best information consulting device in history and has even improved with this second release.
And just for info: you can now find find cheap first generation iPads since the introduction of the iPad2: don't hesitate to buy one: they did't stop working :D !!!