Tagged: iPad

Kindle Fire or iPad for homeschooling

With a price of $199 and Amazon behind it, the Kindle Fire Tablet seems like a good choice for homeschooling. Should you get a Kindle Fire for your homeschool? How does it stack up against the iPad?

iPad vs. Kindle Fire

The Kindle Fire appears to be the first serious competition for the iPad. Here is how the Fire compares.

Hardware:

The Kindle Fire is built solid. There is a rubber coating on the back that makes it feel nice to hold. The Fire has a very simple design with only one button and one micro USB port for charging. There is also a headphone jack at the bottom next to the charging port. The Kindle Fire comes with a power adapter that plugs into the wall. Even though it connects with a micro USB connector, the other end is not USB and only plugs into the wall to charge. I have had problems with the HP touchpad micro USB but for that problem I just replaced the standard USB to micro USB cable. There is no option for the Fire. If the charging cable does not or the micro USB connector fails then you have to get a special charger.

The size is similar to a paperback book. Of course at 7 inches, the screen is smaller than the iPad. The boarder where you hold the Fire is slightly smaller than the iPad so some hands might have issues interfering with the touchscreen. The screen size isn’t too bad for reading books, but not the greatest for viewing web pages. The screen resolution is just about as good as the iPad2 but it is still a smaller area.

Of course there are some shortcomings. There is no physical home button.  There are no volume buttons. To change the volume or go home to select a new app you will have to tap the screen several places. There also is no camera but there are two speakers at the top of the Kindle Fire.

Software:

The Kindle Fire is an Android tablet. Amazon has modified the Android software to add their own features. The main home screen has a view called the “carasell” which shows the previously used apps. You can add favorite apps in a bookshelf below the carasell.

The onscreen keyboard is nice. There are some other features that are nice as well like the auto suggest words and web pages. There are also some punctuation and symbols above the keyboard which is nice so you don’t have to press extra. To edit text there is a little cursor bellow that helps you select the location you want with your finger.

Of course without a physical home button, many times you have to tap several times on the screen before you can go to the home screen and choose another app.  Also without a home button there is no easy way to capture the screen and save it to the Fire.  There probably is a way to copy the screen but its not intuitive.

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The Apps come from Amazons app store. I have not tried to load any apps from the Google app store.  The app store opens up to the top free and top paid apps. There are several categories at the top but my one complaint is that there is no education category by default. You can choose education category but it takes several taps.

Security:

As a parent its good to know that there are parental controls. The list below shows the options available.

  • Parental Controls – Content types, web browsing, and access to other features.
  • Web Browser
  • Purchases
  • Video playback
  • Block and Unblock Content types – Newsstand, books, music, video, Docs, Apps

Overall the Kindle Fire is a pretty good tablet for the cost, but it doesn’t compare with the iPad. The Kindle Fire is good as a book reader but for graphics like web pages it seems a little small. The Kindle Fire would be a good personal device especially if you have a child that reads well. For younger kids they probably will not notice the device but you might have some squabbles over it since the screen is pretty small for multiple people to view.

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What do you think? How have you used the Kindle Fire for homeschooling? I’d love to hear in the comments below how you use your Kindle Fire.

Should homeschoolers buy the new iPad 3

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Apple just announced the new iPad. The new iPad 3 has a few new features but is it worth it for homeschooling? The main new features are:

  • Retina display for high resolution
  • 5 MP pixel camera
  • A faster processor
  • So should you get one for your homeschool? I would say no for the following reasons.

  • the iPad 2 (16GB) is now $100 cheaper
  • the new iPad will require more memory because of the camera and higher resolution
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    Unless you plan on using the iPad for taking pictures in place of your regular camera you really don’t need a better iPad camera. Sure the iPad 2 camera is not very good but most of the time the kids just use it to take crazy pictures. This can use up a lot of memory even with the low resolution iPad 2 camera.

    There may be some instances when the high resolution screen would be nice but it is not a must have. Videos and pictures look fine on the iPad 2.

    While Apple will continue to sell the iPad 2, it appears that the iPad 2 will only come in the 16GB capacity model. You should still be able to get a larger capacity refurbished iPad 2 through apples store which still carry the one year warranty. As of this writing you can get a 32GB iPad 2 for $449. More memory was high on my iPad 3 wish list. I have had some problems with using most of the memory on my 16 GB iPad 2 but it’s good to purge apps and pictures every once in a while.

    So for now I will stick with the iPad 2. In a year or so there may be something new but for now I am content with the iPad 2.

    Why I chose the iPad for homeschooling

     I chose the iPad for myself our  homeschool:

    I know that there are many tablets now on the market.  When I first saw the iPad I immediately thought about the possibilities of using a tablet for homeschooling.  I was a little hesitant to buy the first generation iPad because of the price.  I also kept hoping there would be a good Android tablet that was cheaper than the iPad.  After a year of waiting for Android, I finally decided to buy a second generation iPad.  I have not regretted that decision.  With five kids at home, the iPad is a favorite school activity.

    Here are my top five reasons i chose iPad for homeschooling

    • Large selection of quality apps (I can transfer iPhone apps to the iPad for free)
    • Large screen so more than one person can look at it.
    • Built with quality and size.  No cheap plastic.  
    • Long Battery life.  I usually only charge it one or two nights a week.
    • Instant on.

     iPad 2 vs. iPad

    I bought a second generation iPad (16 GB) because it was the latest and it had a faster processor.  In hindsight I think I would have bought a 1st generation iPad with more memory.  The iPad 2 does have some nice bonus features but for most of what you need the first generation iPad will work.

    Favorite feature:  Automatic on with the cover opened.  It is so nice to just open the cover and look something up and then close the cover and toss the iPad on the bed.

    Least favorite feature: The camera:  It is low quality and the kids sometimes take many pictures that take up memory.  A close second least favorite feature is the 1 speaker!  It isn’t very loud especially in a family with four boys.

    Ultimately it now comes down to the software.  Even though there are some good Android tablets on the market Apple has a good head start on applications.  The applications make the tablet useful.  The iPad is still the king of tablets.

    What you need to know about iCloud

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    I have been looking forward to iCloud ever since iOS 5 was announced. To be honest though I have hardly used it since upgrading to iOS 5.  Now I am attempting to use iCloud on my iPad.  Right now there appear to be some limitations.  Here is my take on iCloud for the iPad and iPhone.
    The Good:

    • 5 GB of free storage
    • Find my idevice
    • Syncs contact list, calendar, reminders and bookmarks

    The Bad:

    • You can’t backup PDF documents only iWork docs
    • You can only backup
    • You cannot manage what is on iCloud

    The Ugly:

    • You must setup a me.com to sync email
    • It’s hard to see your files that are backed up
    • It is hard to figure out.  I wanted to back up all my Pages documents but it seemed to take too long.  I have no idea what documents are in the cloud.
    If you are looking for a place to store documents and file in the cloud then iCloud is not what you are looking for.  I would recommend Dropbox or evernote.  If you just want peace of mind that your contacts and other important data will be backed up in the cloud then iCloud will work for you.