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ETpro's avatar

Can you educate a Guy who knows nothing about Apples you use for computing?

Asked by ETpro (34550points) December 12th, 2011

I know all about eating apples, growing them, making pies and cobblers from them, etc. But iPads I am in the dark about. Thinking of one for my wife’s Christmas. She wants something simple and user friendly and all she’ll do with it is surf sites about ancient history, architecture, art and such. She won’t be carrying it around, so am I right to assume I don’t need to invest in an AT&T 3G connection? Can it run off my wired router or wireless network hooked to Comcast?

I don’t want anything with a tiny screen, as she needs reading glasses. I want something that’s dead easy to learn to use and that is easy to read and see. Any alternative suggestions to an iPad are fine.

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25 Answers

Nullo's avatar

They can interface with a wireless network if they have the adapter for it. Ethernet ought to be standard these days, either wireless or wired.

You won’t be needing a powerhouse just for surfing; I would recommend a Mac Mini, a small desktop box that ought to accept standard mac peripherals. Runs about $400—$500.

judochop's avatar

It’s all good. Apple is made for people who don’t know how to use a real computer.

ETpro's avatar

Thanks @Nullo THat is encouraging. She usually likes to curl up on the daybed to read or watch TV, and this little place has virtually no room for another desktop. Something you can hold in your lap or sit on the daybed would be the cat’s meow.

@judochop That’s what seh wants. No manuals to read. Turn it on, and start surfing.

jerv's avatar

Wifi is standard on all iPads, so it can hook up wirelessly out of the box. However, you will need to read the manual for that, and I found setting up the wifi to be slightly more of a hale than with Android, but still doable in under five minutes if you just read the instructions.

judochop's avatar

I am just making a joke, sorta. I am obviously a PC guy but oddly enough most of the advice I get is from Apple users. I take it as a sort of Chevy vs. Ford thing. They are both good.

janbb's avatar

I use an iPad in the house for surfing, reading and reading e-mail in bed. We have it running on our wireless network. I bought the WiFi only version. Love it; easy to use, easy to learn and easy to read – you can make the print bigger! Get her one and you will be compensated!

jrpowell's avatar

My sister is a Luddite and she has twin girls that are 11 years old and a boy that is 17. I left my iPad on the table one day and when I came back the twins were playing Angry Birds and the last page in Safari was my sisters Facebook page. They didn’t even know what the hell it was and figured out how to use it. Eventually I had to buy them one since they wouldn’t give mine back. And all of them have laptops but prefer the iPad for browsing and dorking around.

jerv's avatar

@johnpowell A Luddite with a Facebook page? :D

Seriously though, tablets in general are good for that. For basic use (opening apps, playing games, net-surfing…), both Apple and Google did a good job at simplifying things to the point where literacy is not required; a toddler can figure out how to do those things. Many professional reviewers agree and now consider both iOS and Honeycomb (Android v3.1) tied for ease of use.

The tricky part is getting the apps on there in the first place, whether you use iTunes or Android Market. Both platforms allow you to install apps directly from the device, and both do so in a very similar manner. Of course, that also means a little bit of learning, but it isn’t too hard. I only mention it because I know some people who get an i[Pad/Pod/Phone] or Android tablet/smartphone and somehow or another fail at finding the market.

Also note that there are really only two viable competitors to the iPad 2; the Motorola Xoom (which has it’s own issues, and thus I am not fond of), and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, which I will detail a bit just to show you that there is an alternative. But first, here is a side-by-side comparison between the Galaxy and the iPad 2. Feel free to ignore the numbers and focus on the text; also note that the reviewer was a total newbie when it came to Android.

If you are into screen size, the iPad has a 9.7” screen, but the Galaxy Tab 10.1 has a 10.1” screen, and a sharper one at that. Whether or not it is more legible… well, I find it to be, but it might be best to see for yourself.

If any of the sites she surfs to have video, the iPad may get iffy. If she runs across a site that uses Adobe Flash, an iPad simply won’t show it. While those issues are going away as Flash gets phased out, I go enough places that use at least some Flash (especially those with interactive images) that an iPad would leave me looking at a lot of white space where content should be. Depending on where she goes, it may or may not be an issue for you, but it is worth mentioning no matter how some people try playing that down.

Both are comparably priced, the Samsung is a hair lighter (but not notably so; less than 1½ ounces), the iPad has Apple (best customer service in the industry) behind it, both can run off of your existing wifi connection, both are simple enough for my cat to figure out… all in all, it really is a toss-up as to which is objectively better. I thought the extra 0.4” of screen on an otherwise comparable device might suit your needs better, but if it doesn’t, c’est la vie.

Buttonstc's avatar

You should also know that Apple provides excellent free telephone support (which is NOT outsourced to someplace full of people whose first language isn’t English).

And whenever I’ve called, I’ve honestly never had to wait longer than 5 mins. to speak to a real person.

Android tablets have no such thing and are definitely not as intuitive as IOS is. I’m certainly more used to technology than Jerv’s cat and my experience with the recent tablet I bought (which runs Honeycomb 3.2) is vastly different from my experience with iPhone.

Ipad is basically a larger version of the phone as both use the same OS.

My experience with my Android tablet has been one gigantic headache leaving me wishing I had gotten an ipad (and I may yet throw in the towel and do just that).

For someone like Jerv, Android is dead simple to use. But for people like me and your wife it’s anything but. Also, there is little help available even on the Internet.

The Android forums are populated primarily with people in the medium to expert category in terms of experience. Plus, tablets are such a new category that it’s populated by telephone Andrpid users. Plus each tablet differs a lot in terms of user experience so it’s even more difficult to find other users with problems that are peculiar to your device. And believe me, I’ve tried.

If you want something that will give your wife the best user experience without confusion and frustration, do her a favor and get her an ipad.

About the only clear advantage I can see for Andrpid tablets is lower cost by about $150–200 and the fact that Android tabs are available in 7” as well as 10” models.

That’s why I got mine when they had a good BF price at Best Buy on a 7” Android tab which got good reviews on tech sites. It’s just much more easy to hold and type on and not as much of a strain as the 10” tab of a friend of mine.

But so far it’s been mostly a frustrating experience. Android is DEFINITELY NOT as user friendly as ipad. And that’s not just my opinion alone.

I’ve encountered other first timers looking for info for newbie Android users. And experiencing the same in lack of even the most basic tutorial.

You won’t regret getting her an ipad.

My only serious hesitations about getting an ipad were the walloping price tag and the lack of Flash support. (and also the fact that I would be duplicating my iPhone, just in a bigger version)

janbb's avatar

Just need to say again – love the iPad! I really think she will too.

jerv's avatar

@Buttonstc It truly is a “your mileage may vary“thing. My wife isn’t a techie and found Android no less intuitive, and as I said, many other people agree that the two are equal. Not just reviewers either; I know quite a few people who know next to nothing about computers, experienced both, and see no difference in difficulty.

My experience is also that Android crashes less and actually allows me to sync PDF files without conducting a voodoo ritual involving dead chickens, but the crashing seems to be an “only me” thing since none of my Apple-owning friends know that crashes are even possible, and syncing PDF files is not something a lot of people do (most people who read on their tablet or smartphone use other e-book formats) but is a function that I consider as vital as having a battery.

As you know, third-party reviews are not always correct. I heard (and still hear) so many people go on about how stable iOS was and how iOS was better than sex that runs directly counter to my experience that I do not recommend buying either without trying both.

BTW, what tablet did you get anyways? Last I checked, there were no reputable 7-inch tablets running Honeycomb; the little guys all run Froyo or Gingerbread while Honeycomb is a 10-inch thing. That might be your problem right there. Note that I said the iPad has few viable rivals?.

jerv's avatar

Almost forgot…

One thing that both have in common that isn’t intuitive (I had to be told) is the “long press” gesture that you need to do certain things. No matter which way you go, there will be things like that you will need to read the book for.

As for ease of use, I can turn my wifi on/off without digging through menus; just one press of a desktop button. Widgets are your friend, and anytime I can avoid a process with a single button-press, I have to smile.

ETpro's avatar

Thanks all. i’m feeling much better about taking this plunge.

mazingerz88's avatar

Bought when the first iPad came out almost 2 years ago and still having fun downloading and reading e-books both from Amazon Kindle and iBook. Enjoying watching movies via Netflix instant play.

Checking email is a breeze. Downloading fun apps, educational apps, business apps is a blast. Hasn’t experienced a single crash and the battery life still lasts as long as when I started using it.

@ETpro I suggest visiting an Apple store with your wife to get the feel of the iPad and then to other stores where other tablets are available. This will give you a much, much better perspective. : )

ETpro's avatar

@mazingerz88 Kills the surprise gift idea, but I think that letting her try a few different ones is probably very wise council. Thanks.

Buttonstc's avatar


I got an Acer Iconia A100 which is not that different from it’s larger sibling, the A500 which is a ten inch.

Its not one of the cheapie chinese no-name knockoffs as Acer also manufactures regular computers as well.

It got mainly good reviews all around with the two main knocks on it being the shorter battery life and the narrower max viewing angle. Otherwise it stacks up favorably to the Samsung Galaxy tab and the Motorola Xoom in terms of Ram and options for storage and connection ports such as USB, etc.

The Acer combined with these two comprised my short list. But after trying out a friend’s ten incher, I knew that a seven was most comfortable for me.

Also there isn’t a book to read to figure out things like you mentioned. Afaik, there isn’t a David Pogue-type of guy writing a Missing Manual series for Android.

Even when I asked a Q here on Fluther about where to find a tutorial for a total Android newbie, I got the sum total of ONE response (which was a brief YouTube clip). While it was helpful and I appreciate the person who posted it, I would have thought there was more out there.

Believe me, if there were a book to read I would certainly be reading it. And I’ve asked for similar on several Android forums as well.

Googling “Android tutorials” or variants thereof gets tons of links for those looking for how to write Android Apps. I just want something that covers the barebones basics.

If you have any ideas, feel free to chime in.

I knew that there would be an initial learning curve but hardly thought it would be this steep. And apparently no road guide. More like mountain climbing if you ask me.

I’ve read comments elsewhere about how each manufacturer of Android devices (obviously mostly phones) puts there own interface overlay on top of the basic Android so that’s why there can’t new definitive Andtoid guide, bla bla bla.

However, in many of the reviews I read on the Iconia prior to buying have touted the fact that Acer used just pure Honeycomb without a lot of twiddling around.

They made it sound as if it were a big advantage but if one doesn’t know how to use it and can’t find a basic tutorial, that’s basically a moot point from where I am (basically still stumbling around in the dark).

jerv's avatar

@Buttonstc I am familiar with (and unimpressed by) the Iconia. I have used both it and the Samsung side by side, and think the Samsung is worth the extra money.

FYI, I used iOS 4 for months before ever trying Android. I find the two similar in the basics and Android superior for “beyond basics”. Considering the OP’s basic needs, either will suffice though, which is why I am not dismissing the iPad; I just bring up a viable alternative.

Buttonstc's avatar

I forget whether it was the Samsung or the Motorola which had the SENSE UI overlay (which was supposed to make the interface smoother and easier to use) but when the Acer came on sale for below $200 (thus beating out the overhyped Kindle Fire) I decided to pull the trigger.

If I were going to spend the extra bucks necessary for the other two, I figured I might as well get an iPad refurb for the same amount.

I may yet end up selling this thing on CL and doing that if I can’t manage to find a decent Honeycomb tutorial. I may wait around for the ICS release to see if that’s any easier to deal with but if not, then I’m done with it.

Peope can knock Apple all they want, but there is definitely something eminently sensible about “It Just Works”. That has been my experience with iPhone with few exceptions.

My biggest dissatisfaction with Apple has been the ban on Flash.

And I will say that it has been so nice when (using the Iconia) visiting news sites and others with brief video clips to just be able to click on and watch them for once without hassle.

That’s the one thing keeping me from putting this thing on CL tomorrow.

jerv's avatar

@Buttonstc I am in the market; if you get sick of it, I will take it!

Seriously though, if Honeycomb gives you problems, so will iOS. My Droid X also worked right out of the box; easier than my iPod Touch, actually. I will see if I can find you a useful tutorial though, just because.

Buttonstc's avatar

Now why did I have a sudden hunch when writing about the possibility of selling, that that might very well be your response ? (regardless of how “unimpressed” you said you were by it) :D

Nothing like a good sale price to change one’s perspective, eh ?

If I could have found a Samsung at that price, I would have scooped that up for sure. Evidently, they just recently brougt a 7” to market. Motorola hasn’t come out with a 7 inch afaik. I definitely like the smaller form factor and really don’t want to deal with anything larger or I might just as well haul out the laptop.

If I do eventually give up on it or Apple decides to come out with a seven incher, I’ll def let you know. I’m certain I won’t have any difficulty finding a buyer for it.

I also recently came across a five ½ inch one that I wanted to get your opinion on but can’t recall brand name (might be Sony, but not sure) If I think of it, I’ll drop you a PM.

Good luck finding anything for a total Android newbie, but I really do appreciate the effort and I’ll pass it on to others I’ve encountered on the forums who asked the same Q and got a big fat goose egg.

And, yes, I did read the manual for it (which was only available online at Acer’s site) but they left a whole lot out. Or they assumed a WHOLE LOT of prior Android experience on the part of the end user.

Apple did similar with iPhone but the free and competent phone support filled in any of the gaps (but there weren’t many that a hard reset couldn’t solve) And, there’s always a book or two by Pogue hot on the heels of every new product offering.

ETpro's avatar

Thanks guys, My techie son is suggesting the Kindle Fire from Amazon. At $199.95, it does look pretty good. Any negatives?

Buttonstc's avatar


If you want to see a really good point by point comparison between the Kindle Fire and it’s closest similar competitor (ipad aside) the Barnes & Noble Nook Color, head over to and put it into their search bar.

They also have individual reviews of each. The Fire has some serious limitations not the least of which is no extra storage (no slot for an SD card).

There are others as well. It just depends upon how important or not they are to your wife and also how big a user one is of Amazons services.

Ask your son his opinion of the Nook as well.

Price aside, what was his objection to ipad? Just curious.

jerv's avatar

@ETpro There are some negatives to the Kindle Fire, but the only one I can think of that would be applicable to you is that you would be limited to the Amazon Apps Store instead of having access to the full gamut of apps available from the Android Market and third-party stores. Then again, the Amazon Apps Store, while a little more annoying than the AM or iTunes, has a fairly wide selection of apps so that isn’t a big negative, especially not at that price point. Personally, I prefer the Nook despite the extra $50, but I would flash the ROM and do other hacks that I am fairly sure you are not up for. In stock, out-of-the-box condition, the Kindle Fire is a fairly decent machine, aside from the storage issue which may not be a problem for you. My biggest concern about recommending it really has to do with it being a 7”; while @Buttonstc and I prefer that form factor, I am not so sure how it would be for someone who needs reading glasses. (I am nearsighted and have no problem even with a 4.3” screen, but I know that many people cannot see as well within two feet as I can.

@Buttonstc I prefer a car with A/C and power windows, but I drive a $300 Toyota; I care more about value than price. If the price gap between the Acer and Samsung were wider (in other words, if the Acer were cheaper) then I would consider it good enough even if not ideal. As it stands, it would take a good sale for me to go Acer though. When it comes to Kindle vs Nook, the SD slot is non-negotiable for me though. I am just jealous of a friend of mine who picked up a Samsung 7” for $99.
One thing that cannot be taken away from Apple is customer service; they always get high marks there regardless of how biased the reviewer because they are that good… unless you have an obscure problem like I chronically do. But since most people don’t try to run RDP terminals from their tablet, it’s safe to day that the types of issues I have are not an issue for many people.
As for the assumption of prior Android experience, I am going mostly off of my wife there as she is a non-techie with a Droid 3 who has also tried iOS 4.x; she really saw no difference for the basics, nor did my friend who gave me the iPod and also owns a Droid 2 which he got to replace his 1st-gen Droid. I stand by my statement that if you can’t handle Android then iOS won’t be any easier. In fact, certain fairly basice tasks like making folders are harder on iOS than with Froyo/Gingerbread. But PM me with the specific issues you are having and I will help you personally.

janbb's avatar

They are selling the Fire so cheaply because it is basically a front end for purchasing only Amazon products. If you don’t care about that limitation, you are probably fine with it.

ETpro's avatar

Thanks, @Buttonstc, @jerv & @janbb. My wife is not typically one to save things to a hard drive. She would have no idea what an SD card even is, and the likelihood of her buying a bunch of apps in a little less than a warm day at the South Pole. She can always email me a link to something she wants saved if that ever comes up.

@jerv Price was the attraction. I realize why Amazon is making it so cheap—channel marketing. But given the light load she puts on a computer, I don’t thank that’s going to be a serious concern for her.

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