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The personal site of Jamie Knight, an autistic web developer, speaker and mountain biker who is never seen far from his plush sidekick Lion. View the Archive

Topics: Autism Development

iPad 5th Generation First Impressions

I’ve had my new iPad a few weeks and its been really interesting to play with it. Unlike my other iPad or the macs in my life, this iPad is a purely personal device. It’s something for me to use when I want to escape my day job and freelance commitments and just be a technical muggle.

To this end what I need is pretty simple. Something for lots of web reading, some social media and instant messaging. The occasional bit of writing and a game from time to time.

It’s too soon for me to review this thing, so here’s my first impressions.


The 5th generation iPad is a unapologetically mid range device. Low to mid range devices are one of the most interesting places for the design. The budget forces compromises and difficult decisions. I think on the whole the iPad gets these compromises right.


The iPad is not fast. It’s not slow either, but too me (a 12” iPad Pro user!) there are noticeable delays. It’s just not as snappy as the pro model. I see the difference most when loading applications and when scrolling pages with adverts / animations. It’s not a big stutter, but its certainly not as butterly smooth.

However, this doesn’t really seem to matter that much. I brought the cheapest model I could get and I don’t intend to keep it all that long. It’s well under half the price of the iPad Pro 12” but it has 80% plus of the performance. That’s a bit of a bargain!

The one concern I have with performance is service life. I’m hoping to get at least 2 years of use out of this iPad and i am not 100% convinced the performance will be good enough after an iOS update or two.


Another places where the iPad is “mid range” is in the display. Unlike the iPhone, iPad Air 2 and iPad Pro there is a noticeable gap between the “glass” and the screen. In other words, they are not laminated.

Much like with the performance, the difference is noticeable, but its not really a huge issue. In day to day use the gap does not bother more. It has an upside too, if i break the glass a replacement is much easier.

One area which is already annoying me is the reflectivity. I am using the iPad in exactly the same places as my iPad Pro and the difference in reflectivity is noticeable.

So much so, for the iPad i am running it at almost full brightness whereas the iPad Pro is running at barely half brightness. The lack of the anti-reflective coating is a day to day annoyance.

Form Factor.

The size and weight is fine. It feels positively tiny and portable compared to my iPad Pro. Unlike this pro, this iPad can be used on the sofa or while standing.

A nice bonus the smart case i brought when i borrowed an iPad Air fits great. That’s a small thing, but it did help save me £40 which is not a trivial amount of money.

h4. Other.

Touch ID and Apple Pay support are really nice additions. They help round the iPad out and just make it that little bit more useful and flexible. I’m glad Apple added them.


The iPad version is iOS is a pretty well known quantity now. It’s still got some rough spots (multitasking!) but in general its fine. I can be productive with it when needed (like writing this post) but mostly i am using it to just surf the web etc. For those tasks it’s excellent and the app support is second to none. There is normally an iPad version of any app i look for.

As this is a personal iPad i am sometimes using it for gaming. I have been impressed with the quality of games on the iPad. I have been playing hitman go and really enjoying it. The graphics are very pretty and the simplified gameplay really works for me.


This iPad cost me £339, which is a huge saving over the £540 my last 9.7” iPad cost me. The 32gb storage space is not idea but for the money its fine. At least its better than the 16gb Apple used to offer on the entry level iPad.

Compared to the iPad Pro the new iPad is great value. It’s damn near half the cost once the smart case is considered. This might be the best value Apple device i have brought in years.

Final Thoughts.

My first impression on the new iPad is really positive. It’s a capable little device sold for a very fair price. It’s “good enough” and it suits the needs for my personal computing wonderfully.

Unlike the iPad Pro, this iPad isn’t trying to be a Super Computer. It’s a good device and that’s all it needs to be.

Published: 18 April 2017 Permalink

The iPad Boring

A few weeks ago Apple announced the iPad Boring via a press release. It was not a big announcement for Apple. Much like the iPhone SE the “iPad 5th gen” was a mid market device designed to fill a gap in the market. A design from 2013 stuffed with internals from 2016. To those waiting for iPad Pros it was a very disappointing update.

However, to me it was pretty darn interesting. I had been looking for a “home computer” for a while and i didn’t know it was iPad shaped.

Home Computer.

I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by amazing hardware. I have an iMac, a MacBook and (via the BBC) an iPad Pro. Thats almost £4,000s worth of hardware and i am grateful for it. My devices support my work and that keeps me fed and housed etc. All good things.

However, theres a snag. All of those devices serve double or even triple duty. None of them are really “mine”. They belong to my employer, or my company, but not really to “me”.

This is not the first time i have found myself in this position. For ages, i used to have a MacBook Pro for work and an iMac or a MacBook Air at home. I started this way back in 2011. At the time i even had this handy definition of a home computer:

For me, my home computer is the computer which i am unable to work on. It doesn’t have my software tools installed at all. My home computer is what i use once i get home to check on twitter, Facebook etc. […] I also use my ‘home’ computer for non work projects, such as study or researching lego parts.

Since getting ill my work life and my home life have merged. I certainly don’t need another Mac in my life. But i have been wanting something all of my own.

Enter the iPad Boring.

I want my personal computing to be effortless. Something i don’t have to think about or maintain. Something “good enough” is fine. The fact i cant load all my software tools onto the iPad Boring is a good thing! It does run my speech software, so the important stuff is covered.

Secondly, the iPad Boring is cheap. At £339 its a third of the cost of even an entry level MacBook and almost a quarter the cost of a Mac i’d actually want to own. If i get two years use of it then donate it to relative i’d be pretty happy.

I think thats everything. Long live the iPad Boring!

Published: 12 April 2017 | Categories: Permalink

My setup (2017)

Here’s a quick overview of my setup in early 2017. Hopefully this will remain stable till 2018/2019.

Always with me.

Two devices are always with me. My iPhone and my Apple Watch.

My iPhone 6S is probably my favourite phone yet. It took a while to get the right case to stop RSI but since then it’s been amazing. It’s almost two years old and it’s still fast and capable.

I use my phone for everything from writing to social media and reading RSS feeds.

Working alongside my iPhone is my 38mm Apple Watch Sport. My watch is extremely helpful. Being autistic i really benefit from tools to help me to stay organised and communicate. The Watch is literally my voice, wallet and organiser. It’s a great device.

In my bag.

I don’t normally carry both an iPad and a MacBook but sometimes I do.

My 12.9” iPad Pro is supplied by my employer. It’s what I use for sorting out email, accessing the VPN and the like. It’s a great device for typing when combined with the studio near canvas and the magic keyboard. I’m new to the iPad but so far I am super impressed. I’m glad I tried something different.

If my iPad isn’t in my bag then my 2015 12” retina MacBook probably is. I love it’s portability, performance and flexibility. I spend a ton of time working from the cafe and for coding, photo editing and slide making I prefer to use the MacBook.

At home.

At home I have my iMac, my server and my iPod.

My 2014 5K iMac is a beast. It’s by far the fastest Mac I have ever owned. The screen is gorgeous and and it’s the most productive and comfortable place for me to work. This is where I spent most of my time for BBC and freelance work. It’s also handy for a bit of gaming etc.

None of my devices have decent storage. So I have a 2011 Mac Mini Server as a NAS. It has a copy of everything and also runs my development servers and the like.

My final home device is my iPod. It’s what I use in the evening and is loaded with lots of audiobooks and the like.


In total I have 7 devices in my life. They each serve a different purpose and they are all useful.

If I had to reduce device count I’d drop devices in the order iPod, Mac Mini, MacBook, iPad, Watch, iMac, iPhone.

The iPad is a work device so I don’t really count it. The Mac mini was also cheaper than a boring hard drive of the same size so I also don’t really count it as a day to day device. It simply sits around making sure all my data is safe.

If it wasn’t a work device I probably wouldn’t own a MacBook and an iPad. I may sell the MacBook on in the future if I don’t use it enough.

Final thoughts.

As i mentioned at the start, i am hoping that this year my tech setup will be very stable. I am extremely lucky to be able to have a nice selection of devices for all the things i need to do.

Published: 25 March 2017 | Categories: Permalink

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