Geograph Blog ::

Taking the tablet

By Robin Stott

Resistance melted away. Thrift went out of the window. I blew my pocket money on an iPad2, didn't I? SP0786 : In the 'Bullring' centre. by Row17 (spot the Apple store). So I had to put it through its paces in the service of Geograph - with mixed results.

I visit south Devon from time to time. Sometimes I rediscover places I knew in my teens but more often I'm discovering places I didn't know existed when it was home in the 1950s SX9064 : Lucius Street, Torquay by Derek Harper. Geographing is ticklish: not only have some distinguished contributors crawled all over it, many members have some south Devon pics in their portfolios. There are some heavily photographed squares, especially on the coast SX9777 : Approaching Dawlish Warren by roger geach and lots of duplicated views.

Yet there is plenty of scope, especially inland. Browsing some lightly-photographed squares in the South Hams I came across SX7641. It had only two photos SX7641 : Ham Point, North Pool Creek by Chris Hart SX7641 : A famous view of Kingsbridge Creeks by Chris Hart, very fine but puzzling until it dawned on me that they were supplementals. Here was a rare opportunity to bag my first first Geograph! Coming so late to the party I'd given up hope.

I love the drive down to the south of the South Hams - on this occasion 9km of single-track road through a large-scale landscape: big bleak whaleback hills SX7948 : Southeast from Wallaton Cross by Robin Stott, secret almost sub-tropical valleys, a stunning coast. I set out from Frogmore SX7742 : Frogmore Creek by Shaun Ferguson lugging food, drink, maps, camera and iPad (and folding secateurs; and bicycle lamp). I'd already discovered, to my disappointment, that the camera in the device is not that hot (0.7 megapixels) but it remained to be seen if it was useful in the field, literally.

I stepped into SX7641, got my first first SX7641 : Footpath by Frogmore Creek by Robin Stott, and strolled on in a warm glow (sunshine actually) between a developing crop of wheat and a mixed hedgerow, with occasional glimpses of Frogmore Creek. Over lunch, a sandwich in the shade of this ash tree SX7641 : Stile, north side of Frogmore Creek by Robin Stott, I opened up the iPad. Firstly I was surprised to get a signal; secondly that web pages loaded at an acceptable speed, thirdly the clarity of the display. I could view a coverage map and grid square pages to see what had already been snapped. A neat trick with the pad is to take a screenshot by pressing the home and sleep buttons simultaneously. However, if I'd been more organised I could have taken screenshots at home and printed them for trip use. Two sheets of A4 are considerably lighter than an iPad (though the new model is lighter than the original).

Unquestionably, the 3G version of Apple's tablet is fine for displaying normal web pages and manipulating them as on a smartphone - but a bit of a luxury and a bit of a weight, and a bit of a price. Making notes in the field is very easy, but so is pen and paper, or a voice memo. Video and Maps apps come as standard, might be useful. The stills camera is perhaps best used as an image notebook, though I can report promising results with a paid-for image-editing app called Filterstorm which may yet be the making of a photo worthy of Geograph. Of course, a proper camera is better still. There is as yet no facility for submitting directly from a mobile device (except using Chrome: see forum thread - search on iPad). Hooked up to iTunes iPad becomes a shop, and it remains an attractive medium for storing and, in picture frame mode, displaying photos. But not for taking photos: Apple never gives you everything in one device - they want you to buy them all!

Afterword, 20 May: I was tickled pink to see that my first first had been instrumental in completing the SX74 hectad. Two warm glows in three days - mental!

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Fri, 20 May 2011 at 23:36
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