Rich Warren: Entering Apple Reality Distortion Zone

Rich Warren: Entering Apple Reality Distortion Zone

Tablets remain a hot topic as a few of you commented after a recent column.

Shortly after writing it, I entered the Apple Reality Distortion Zone. This phenomenon mesmerizes people to buy anything new from Apple. Being a PC kind of guy, I thought I was immune.

Then the siren song of the new iPad Air reached me and in a trance I entered Target to trade in my perfectly good iPad 3 for a ridiculously low trade-in allowance for the new iPad Air. How could I resist a tablet weighing only 1 pound that is much lighter, thinner and smaller overall than my iPad 3?

Although Apple brags about the faster processor in the iPad Air, I have seen little if any difference in its performance.

Apple rushed the Air to market in such a hurry that no accessories could be found. The Smart Cover from my iPad 3 that turns the iPad on and off and protects the precious screen was much too large for the Air. But the only Air Smart Cover in town was in pink.

It's a week later, and Target still doesn't have any iPad Air-specific Smart Covers and accessories.

Then I discovered the cellular-enabled version of the iPad Air offers far improved choices from the previous models. The new agnostic model lets you choose just about any carrier you desire. You don't have to pledge your troth to one cell company when buying your iPad; you can decide later and change carriers as often as you wish.

I asked if I could return my iPad Air and trade it for a cell-enabled model. The answer is absolutely not. (This is true at all retailers selling Apple products.)

Had I walked into Target and bought a $600 Vizio TV and decided a week later I wanted a different model, the store probably would have taken it back without question.

Be alert to the pitfalls of transferring your data and apps from your old iPad to your new iPad. This applies whether you're backing up to iCloud or a computer at home.

Using iTunes, I carefully and painstakingly backed up my old iPad. When I tried to restore that backup to my new iPad just my contacts made the leap, while no apps and only parts of my email accounts transferred.

Since Apple does not offer telephone support (for what it charges for products it should make house calls), I contacted one of my app providers that said I could restore my apps from a central database.

Tap the App Store icon, and then tap the little "purchased" icon at the very bottom of the screen.

I then took my new iPad on a business trip and discovered not all the email settings transferred and that you must manually re-enter passwords.

Do I love my new iPad Air? Let's say I like it a lot. Would I trade my iPad 3 in for it again? No. I have departed the Apple Reality Distortion Zone.

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Here are some quick answers to some reader questions. One reader was told by her computer guru that she must buy a new PC when Microsoft soon ceases support for Window XP.

If she can find a copy of Windows 7, it should run on just about any PC running XP. Upgrading will be time-consuming, but it can be done. However, it would be foolish attempting to load Windows 8.1 on a machine designed for XP.

Another reader wanted to know if the Bose Solo TV sound system ($400) was worthwhile. If your TV has a screen 36 inches or smaller, the Bose Solo TV works very well. I've been using one for several months. If your TV has a larger screen you'll need a different solution.

And, yes, Bose underwrites my radio show, but I still like the sound of the Solo TV.

Rich Warren, who lives in the Champaign area, is a longtime reviewer of consumer electronics. He can be emailed at hifiguy@mchsi.com.

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