download.jpegI am on my way home from ten days in sunny Florida visiting my parents, and it was a gadget-rific Christmas. I saw my first Nook and Nook Colour, my first Kindle 3 (alas, out of stock, but I did play with a dummy model) and got stepdad’s iPad set up for him. More on that later—we had a few days alone thanks to a family emergency that had Mom flying home for a few days, so the iPad became our little All by Ourselves project—but I have some general comments on my gadget-rific holiday to tide you over in the meantime!


The first thing that struck me about this holiday season was just how many gadgets there really are out there. I don’t travel much, so I was unprepared for the sheer proliferation of gadgetalia out there in the wild. I think every single person on my whole flight had a gadget of some kind, ranging from iPod Touches (most in the hands of children) to iPads, at least two Kindles besides my own, numerous fully loaded smartphones, a Sony and a few Chinese devices I could not identify. Two people in the seats beside me were even watching video on iPod Nanos! And I was not the only person who had more than one device with me, either!

Of course, not all of these people were reading on them. But still, the potential is there. I spent an enjoyable afternoon playing iToys with my nephew, who is not much of a reader, and while we were evenly matched on the arcade stuff and perhaps spent more time than we had to playing with the talking cat, I have to admit that he held his own against me in even ‘intellectual’ games like Jeopardy and Family Feud. And I was happy to have something to do with him that bonded us a little. Small boys are a bit of a cipher for me, since his only interests seem to be hockey and baseball, so gadgetry is perhaps a welcome way into his world for people like me and his gadget-savvy parents.


I don’t read novels on the iPad, but loaded it up with Zinio mags and some video before my trip. Everything performed as it should. But I learned that the geographical restrictions bugbear was not over and done with as neatly as I thought it was—HAVING an app and USING an app are different things, in Gadgetland. I was dismayed (although not completely surprised) to find that none of my video apps worked while my IP address was in the USA, even though I had legitimately acquired them in Canada with my Canadian iTunes account, and had happily been using them there.

This is potentially a huge barrier for the less tech-savvy user like my parents who will be baffled and confused by such things—and it will cost the media industry money. Someone like my stepdad, who has a shiny new iPad and plans to spend four months this year in Florida, will not easily be persuaded to pony up money for something like Netflix if he can only use it when he’s home. Did it really never cross their minds that one could live in Canada 355 days of the year, legitimately be somewhere else for the other ten days, and want to use their content without this being an international incident? Come on, people, get it together on this. Let people use their stuff! You’re losing money and turning legitimate customers away.


My Kindle 2, on the other hand, was a better than expected traveling companion. In the ten days of my trip, I charged it once to be on the safe side, and that was only because I had been using 3G (more on that in a second). It was great at the pool and the beach, and I was not the only beach-goer who had one, either.

I discovered ‘mobile’ internet (special ‘light’ versions of the better websites) and bookmarked these before I left. I did not plan (and still do not plan) to use the Kindle as a mobile internet device, but it did prove to be useful to have the option. It was nice to be able to check on while at the pool. And Mobile Facebook proved to be a life-saver in an emergency—we were waiting for an update from my mother on the situation at home, and it came while we were at the beach, and far away from iPad-friendly wifi. I turned on the Kindle 3G and posted a message via Mobile Facebook so my sister could hear the news. A cell phone data plan for this kind of everywhere-access runs $60 a month in my neck of the woods. I don’t need this sort of access very often, so I do not have such a plan. And the Kindle is an admittedly kludgy tool to do this sort of task. But in a pinch, in the situation we found ourselves in, it was a nice emergency option, and for free to boot.

I’ll have more later on iPad Camp with the Clueless Stepdad, and some thoughts on the Nook products. Right now though, I am gearing up for school resuming, and looking at my assorted techy helpers with new eyes now that I have seen how very, very NOT alone they are in the world…

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"I’m a journalist, a teacher and an e-book fiend. I work as a French teacher at a K-3 private school. I use drama, music, puppets, props and all manner of tech in my job, and I love it. I enjoy moving between all the classes and having a relationship with each child in the school. Kids are hilarious, and I enjoy watching them grow and learn. My current device of choice for reading is my Amazon Kindle Touch, but I have owned or used devices by Sony, Kobo, Aluratek and others. I also read on my tablet devices using the Kindle app, and I enjoy synching between them, so that I’m always up to date no matter where I am or what I have with me."


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