Category Archives: Comparisons

How iPhone 6S Plus fits in with your viewing habits

When you’re getting a new phone, how do you choose what Apple Device to get?

The iPhone 6 S Plus, and the earlier iPhone 6 Plus, have changed the way that we view web pages and apps.

Where do these iPhones sit in the Apple lineup compared to an iPad Mini or and iPad Air 2?

I’ve had a good look at the 6S Plus and, of course, it’s a great phone! Recently at an Apple Store, I was interested in asking one of the Apple Sales staff, what product folks are buying, taking into account web surfing. Her response to me made a lot of sense.

She said that younger folks in particular or going for the 6S Plus because to them, the screen size is perfectly acceptable in for web browsing and apps. She went on to say that very few people would have both an iPad Mini and a 6S Plus in her experience.

I’d offer a slightly different “viewpoint”.

My use for an iPhone to date has been largely as a phone, and I do some internet banking and GPS applications, but I find I almost never use it for web viewing.

Why is that? Well it’s probably a matter of habit and age and of course the model iPhone I have. I use the iPhone 5S and the iPad Air with an almost 10” diagonal screen.

Even though my eyesight is fine with my glasses, I find web surfing a much better experience on the full sized iPad.

At a local Apple Reseller, I would show customers how to use an iPad. I used to suggest that customers go to say The Age newspaper website. Looking around on the site, customers would be able to take in a lot more of the site without having to scroll around or constantly zoom in and out. In this way, the iPad improved the experience compared to smaller screen products.

So, for me personally, even though I’ve had a good look at the iPhone 6S Plus, it wouldn’t be an “all in one” solution for me. with lots of other appeal over my 5S iPhone, but wouldn’t change my web viewing habits.

To me, it makes sense to have both an iPhone and an iPad and maybe you see that as a “der” thing to say… Yes, the iPhone makes phone calls and the iPad doesn’t, but I’m loving both products for their separate uses in terms of web browsing and other apps in full screen size.

But as usual, I’d like to hear your thoughts on the subject. So please reply and let us all know what you think.

I guess the simple question is, would the iPhone 6S Plus cover all your phone and browsing needs, or would an iPad make things so much better for you?

iThings Bendigo

Mac: Free Alternatives to Microsoft Office

Some of my recent customers have been asking me to recommend alternatives to the Microsoft Office suite.
The current Microsoft Office Suite for the Mac range appears to be Office 365. This is sold via an annual subscription basis, or most recently as a one time payment only Microsoft Office 2016 suite.
From recent articles online it appears that MS Office version 2016 for the Mac appears to have SO many problems/bugs that most folks advise against using it.

Microsoft has committed to fixing the software issues, but I, for one, wouldn’t hold me breath for them

I’ve recently been looking at Libre Office as an alternative to the the Microsoft Office Suite.

Although it offers no email client like Microsoft Outlook, for the average, non cooperate user, to seems to rate really well and it’s free.

Take a look at it at

For the average user, in my humble opinion, Microsoft Office offers way too many options that we’ll never use.

That’s just my opinion. What do you think? I’m keen to hear from you.

Rob Plowman
iThings Bendigo

Review of Google Android vs Apple iOS

In the interest of keeping an open mind and trying new things, I thought I would try a few products using Google’s Android software to Apple’s iPhone and iPad.

There are two main reasons that I found it hard to embrace the Android In either case I would choose an Apple product over an Android one (like the latest Samsung Galaxy) for two major reasons.

Spyware on Android

Firstly and importantly, Analysts predict that 99% of spyware is written to cause damage to Android devices.

This spyware can have, on one hand, a relatively minor effect of sending your data from your Android phone or tablet to a third party that you don’t know about, or it can be serious and record every key you press, so that when you’re doing internet banking, if your phone is infected, it’ll send your Bank login and password info to fraudulent users.

There’s no way I want to take that risk on my phone and nor should you.

Until recently, Google, who created the Android operating system, allowed virtually any application to be written and put on their app store without the applications being checked for any spyware-like behaviour.

On the other hand Apple checks EVERY single application written by software developers before they allow the application onto their App Store, so the chances of you getting an application that contains spyware is very remote on an iPhone or iPad. In the last week, Apple has completely deleted anti-virus applications from the iPad app store because they are completely unnecessary and therefore misleading to the public.

Free Software Upgrades

The second major reason why I would not chose an Android based product over an Apple one is that Apple guarantees that you’ll be able to upgrade to the latest version of their operating system free of charge going back two or three generations on iPhone or iPad.

For example, if you have an iPhone 4S, your phone came with Apple Software iOS version 4.0 and you can install up to version 7.1.2 (this means that your phone can use the ‘current’ version of Apple iOS for three years.

Android generally can’t do this for one primary reason. That is that because each brand of Android phone, from each manufacturer has “add-ons” or differences in their operating system in order to differentiate themselves from their competitors.

So almost none of the Android phones use the latest/unmodified/“vanilla” version of Android. Although Google may be keen for users to upgrade the features of their operating system, most phone vendors like Samsung and Motorola choose not to update their software after their latest phone has been released. This is because it’s either too much trouble for them or they think “this isn’t going to advance the sales of a product we are about to obsolete”. (The one exception to this is a brand of Android phone or tablet under the brand “Nexus” which deliberately sticks to the original version of Googles Android system so that when a new one comes out, it can be upgraded straight away.)

Therefore with Apple, you have a virtually guaranteed software upgrade path with Apple iPhones and iPads, but almost none with Android based devices.

(For your information, in the smart phone market, when you take all the various brands of Android phones combined, their marketshare is pretty close to the Apple iPhone, but in the tablet market Apple easily beats out all the brands of Android devices combined.)

So there are a couple of good reasons to go with and stay with Apple’s products, in my humble opinion.



Should I buy an iPad Mini or the iPad Air?

Decisions, decisions! Which to buy and why?

In the latest round of product updates, Apple updated both the iPad Air and the iPad Mini. However, the changes were greater for the iPad Air than the iPad Mini.

The main update to the latest iPad Mini, hardware-wise, was the inclusion of the ‘fingerprint recognition’  (i.e. TouchID) to the Home button. After you setup your fingerprint on the iPad Mini, the Mini can recognise your unique fingerprint and easily authorise purchases, passwords and access to secure Apps on your phone. All you have to do is touch the Home button when required. This is a great timesaver for Apps that you would normally type a password into, such as a Journal app, Password-aggregation app, Banking app (e.g. CommBank) and others.


The second improvement Apple make with the latest iPad Mini was that they included a faster and more powerful WiFi connection, allowing you to use the internet and apps significantly faster and with a better range around your home or office.

Screen Size Test

So should I choose the iPad Mini or iPad Air?

Here’s a little test I’d suggest potential buyers to do before deciding between the Mini or the Air.

Go to a web site like “The Age” newspaper using Safari on both products and see which is more comfortable to look at.

Depending on your eyesight and your age, on the Mini, you may need to zoom in more often to read a headline or and article on the Mini, than you would with a full sized iPad Air.
It seems like a small thing, but frequently having to ‘zoom in’ can become frustrating on the smaller screen size of the iPad Mini.

Device Size and Portability

If you plan to carry your iPad Mini or iPad Air in your handbag or ‘man bag’, you may prefer the size of the iPad Mini over the iPad Air, because it fits easily. However, if you plan to mostly use your iPad at home in the lounge, then portability is less of a factor.

iPad Air 2 gets a Speed Bump

During the last round of updates to both model iPads, the iPad Air 2 got, a much faster internal processor and the Mini didn’t. Based on my use I don’t really care about the faster processing of the iPad Air 2. To me, this feature is more about helping folks that like playing intensive games with 3D graphics and I’m not one of those customers. Maybe you are?

To me, what’s much more important is battery life in everyday use more than performance with high end games.
I can still use a flight simulator game on my iPad Air 1 and I’m completely happy with the performance.

In short, I love both products for different reasons, but because I’m older and refer a larger screen and don’t care so much about whether it’ll fit into my ‘man bag’, since I don’t have one, I’d go for the Air over the Mini, but that’s just my choice.

As usual, in order to offer your reply to this, please click on the subject headline and then below the article, you’ll then see an area for you to respond.
Looking forward to your comments.
Best Regards,
Rob of iThings

MacBook Pro versus MacBook Air. Which to choose and why?

I’ve been asked this question so many times by customers.
Which of the above two should I buy and why?
Today, the entry level MacBook Pro with it’s 13” screen and 500Gb conventional hard disc drive still seems like the device to go for if you’re a student.
In my opinion, it’s a good “workhorse” which a good quality screen, plenty of expansion ports and a relatively large storage space  (or hard disc drive).
Having said that, my younger son bought a 13” MacBook Air and did a 100,000 word thesis on it, recently completing his PhD in Chemistry.
The Advantages of the MacBook Air 13” over the MacBook Pro 13” are:
  • That the Air is much lighter and easier to carry around
  • The 13” MacBook Air offers a higher resolution display than the 13” MacBook Pro
  • The MacBook Air has a much higher “real-life” battery life over the 13” MacBook Pro. For example, up to 14 hours versus 10 hours.
  • The MacBook Air, which uses “chip storage” instead of a normal hard disc drive has extremely fast disc storage versus the MacBook Pro. This means that the MacBook Air will typically start up an application in one tenth of the time of the MacBook Pro. For example, click on an App like Microsoft Word from the dock and “bang” there it is ready to use in about two seconds!
But the downsides of the MacBook Air versus the MacBook Pro are:
  • Less standard built in “ports” versus the MacBook Pro.
  • The MacBook Air, although offering much faster storage access times, offers less storage space versus the base model MacBook Pro for the same money
  • Chip Storage instead of a conventional hard disc drive, is virtually impossible to recover data from, if it fails, whereas a conventional hard disc drive may be able to recover some data from if the system crashes.
In my opinion, the MacBook Air is the way to go, not only for students, but also for the average user.
But wait…
Just last week, Apple released a product simply called the “MacBook”. This makes our decision a little more interesting. The new “MacBook” has a 12-inch screen and is very thin and light, rivalling a Macbook Air.
My comments on this: if I had a rule of thumb for the smallest screen size I would want to work with would be 13-inch (without plugging into an external display.)
Maybe since I’m over 50 and my eyesight isn’t as good as yours. However, an inch makes a difference to usability.
Secondly, the new “MacBook” has only one external expansion port. This means that you need to buy expansion adapters in order to plug your laptop into an external display, USB stick, printer, or removable hard drive.
Personally, I love being able to charge my MacBook Pro with Retina Display by using one port only and without carrying multiple extra adapters. Perhaps you’re ok with that?
My opinion is that the MacBook Air is still the way to go.
As ever, I’ll look forward to your feedback on the topic.
All the best,

Macbook vs iPad: Which should I choose?

The answer is not so clear cut either way, I believe…. I’ve got to start off by saying that in my experience, there are a lot of people who just aren’t aware of what an iPad can do.There are some things you can do on an iPad that you can’t do on a MacBook and visa versa.
I used to work in a retail store here in Bendigo and while my main role was being out on the road talking with schools about Apple technology, when I was back at the store/office I’d help quite a lot with retail customers coming into the shop as well. Typically a customer inclined towards buying an iPad would come into the store saying they just wanted an iPad as a supplementary device to do emails and web surf and that’s probably about it. Often customers, within months of using an iPad, came back and said that it was now their “main device”.
How did an iPad become their “main device”?
  • Firstly, they had no idea of the breadth of software that is available for an iPad and once they discovered more useful apps, their use of the iPad broadened.
    There are about 700,000 applications available for an iPad and amongst those are approximately 50,000 that are aimed at the education market, plus hundreds of thousands of games.
  • Secondly, they got used to the “instant on” capability of the iPad, particularly those with the cellular models. Wake the iPad up with one click and you’re instantly on the internet and looking up whatever you want. Love it.
  • Unlike other mobile devices which use the Android operating system, the iPad doesn’t need (and in fact you can’t even buy) anti-virus or anti-spyware software for the device, so you’re very safe doing internet banking with an iPad for instance.
  • Buying and reading books on the iPad is a lot cheaper than conventional books and also saves quite a few OH & S issues for folks, like students, who would normally have to lug around a collection of books in a school bag or rucksack. Warning….if you like reading in bed before sleeping, you might want to look into some sort of nose protector because if you fall asleep while reading…well you get my drift!
  • Also, an iPad is an ideal device to take with you on holidays because of it’s light weight and good battery life. Plus the two cameras make is easy to take photos and stay in touch with the family via “Skype”.
    One really useful application for European travel in one called “Word Lens”. Point the rear camera at a page of writing, or a sign in French, for instance, and wallah, what you’ll see on the iPad screen will be that page translated  to English!
So what are the downsides to the iPad versus a MacBook I hear you asking?
  • Well typing on an iPad is slower, even if you buy a third party, add on keyboard from Logitech or Belkin as an example.
  • Then an iPad currently doesn’t multitask as well as a MacBook. With an iPad you’re pretty well focused one the task that’s on screen at the moment, whereas with a MacBook you’re able to truly have multiple tasks running at the same time.
  • For applications that require a lot of processing power, like AutoCad or the Adobe Graphics suite, there is really no choice. A MacBook is the way to go.
  • You may not be aware that on both devices, you can talk to them and they will convert your speech into typed text. An iPad needs an internet connection to do this, but the MacBook can be set up so that it’ll do dictation without an internet connection. This can be very useful for people who like to dictate for convenience or others who may have a disability.
So what are the advantages of a Macbook over an iPad?
  • Firstly you get access to the full versions of software designed for the more complete OS X operating system.
  • Then there is the built in, back-lit keyboard, which is, I believe, much better suited to, for instance, a student writing a thesis.
  • And you can buy and use more demanding applications like the Adobe Photoshop and video editing software for the MacBook and be totally satisfied with running them on the MacBook, where as you can’t with the iPad.
I own and use both devices by the way.
So enough about what I think, what’s your opinion and why?
I’ll look forward to hearing it.
Over to you……