iPad 2 now for fall marching band season, or wait for iPad HD/2S?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by GavWhite, Jul 16, 2011.

  1. GavWhite, Jul 16, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2011

    GavWhite macrumors newbie

    Jul 16, 2011
    This is sort of a "what would you do?" type of advice-seeking post. I work as part of the instructional staff for a high school marching band. As some of you are aware, marching band usually requires the staff (and sometimes even student leaders) to carry with them around the field for hours each day binders full of sheet protectors full of papers. Those papers are things like drill charts (the pictures everyone makes on the football field), coordinate sheets (where everyone stands to make those pictures), music scores (sheet music), and in the case of staff, things like number assignments, student rosters, and so on.

    I was hoping to demonstrate a new method for the staff this season, which starts the last week of July and runs through October, and that is to use an iPad for everything. All the charts, coordinates, and scores are already in PDF format, and iPad apps allow for extras such as metronomes, tuners, and even playing recordings of the music to refresh people's memories as to what the music sounds like. I have a $250 Apple gift card, and will pay the rest.

    My dilemma is that I don't yet have an iPad, as I've primarily been waiting for a Retina-screened one. When it seemed apparent that it wouldn't come until spring 2012, I figured I'd just cave and get the iPad 2 for this season, but the persistent rumors of a pre-holiday-2011 release of an iPad HD/2S is starting to make an iPad 2 purchase seem like a bad idea. At least before, I could have sold my iPad 2 before the holidays, take advantage of the holiday demand. If the iPad 2S is out well before the holiday season, iPad 2 would be a bad investment.

    Any advice or thoughts?
  2. CD4287 macrumors newbie

    Jul 11, 2011

    I would encourage you to think about a couple of things:
    Sun. Marching band takes place outside. I was in band before cell phones were so smart and popular, but I can remember that it was hard to see on the computers that got brought out on carts sometimes. And I know that it's hard to read on the iPad out by my pool now.

    Heat. When it is 102+ degrees outside and you are in the middle of a field/parking lot for hours your iPad is going to overheat and die.

    Time. Your iPad is not going to last through a 12 hour practice on a charge. Sorry, that isn't happening.

    If you want general opinion on buy an iPad now or waiting then there are plenty of threads on that.
  3. Bye Bye Baby macrumors 65816

    Bye Bye Baby

    Sep 15, 2004
    i(am in the)cloud
    Apple will definitely offer an iPad HD (retina display). When is open to debate.

    Personally, I think it will be sooner rather than later. Given that the iPod phenomenon is slowly dying, apple do need to consolidate the iPad phenomenon.

    I think with resources and technology Apple can release a new model, even though there would be economic arguments for releasing it later.
  4. GavWhite, Jul 16, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2011

    GavWhite thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 16, 2011
    Hmm, all great points, CD4287. Admittedly, I am concerned about how well I'll be able to read the iPad outdoors. Regarding heat, I imagine I'll be carrying it most of the time in which case I'd generally avoid exposing the front/back to direct sunlight. I also carry an HD camcorder around since I film for the seasonal memory video (another reason to ditch the weight of a binder :p), and I've gotten a good grip on how to keep that piece of electronic gear from overheating. As for battery life, we do have power on the field (for our portable PA system) where I can plug-in during water breaks (in the shade), or do so during the indoor afternoon music rehearsals.

    So yeah, my biggest concerns would be viewing the screen in sunlight, protecting the device in the rain, and while we don't really use a parking lot beyond the first day or two of the two-week camp, there is that small window in the beginning where an iPad dropped on asphalt could be a possibility.

    Bye Bye Baby, that's my exact dilemma :p. Obviously, everyone has the dilemma of buying now or waiting, but I feel I could benefit tremendously by having one for marching season. But if the rumors of a new iPad by the end of October are true, and if it's the Retina iPad I've been holding out for, then I have to decide whether to get an iPad 2 and only use it for three months before buying a second iPad, or go the season without an iPad at all.
  5. bri1212 macrumors 6502

    Feb 1, 2008
    If you are waiting for a "retina display" IPad, try iPad 6 or so. The physics and engineering are not there yet, to power an iPad with "retina display" resolution, and have battery life that compares at all to the battery life we have now. Also, I don't believe a new iPad is coming for fall. I could be wrong about that.
  6. Comeagain? macrumors 68020


    Feb 17, 2011
    Spokane, WA
    Besides, for the foreseeable future, there will always be new technology, and rumors, that may make it seem good to wait, but you'll just wait forever. Get it now and enjoy the technology. Apple products last a long time, so get it, and then if it doesn't work, you have a new toy and can try again later.

    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
  7. logics8 macrumors member

    Oct 14, 2008
    I'd say pick one up now, then if you can convince one of the other staff you work with to get one maybe sell them the ipad you will buy to make way for the next generation. As for sunlight, all I can say is either turn your screen on max brightness or turn it down and let as much sunlight as possible light up the screen. Then for battery life, i'd recommend investing in one of these http://www.monoprice.com/products/p...=10831&cs_id=1083110&p_id=8295&seq=1&format=2
    it is a portable external battery. Basically its rated to fully charge an ipad so it doubles your current life! I own one that I use to charge my phone, ipod and still have lots of power left to spare so its a pretty amazing investment. Its about a 3"x3" square so you might need some pocket space to carry it around though.
    The iPad is a very good idea being used for marching band! I've actually seen one of my teachers use one this past year! It works amazingly well especially for those night practices.
  8. benspratling macrumors 6502

    Jan 16, 2006
    Howdy. I was drum major of my high school band and instructed the band camp for two years after graduating. I can imagine wanting to consolidate the ridiculous number of papers, especially once changes to the show made copies absurd. (I'm known for carrying a briefcase around everywhere!) However, given my experience with outdoor use in June, August would kill my iPad. I left my iPad in the car for two hours (in Alabama) a couple of weeks ago, and the leather smart cover shrank by about 3 mm, and the magnets lost half of their strength. It took a half hour in 65º air conditioning before it would turn back on, and I was stunned how difficult it was to read the screen in the sunlight when one of the great features of the original iPhone was its sunlight readability.
    Cases only make the temperature problem worse, but one thing's for sure: white is not going to be as bad as black; that doesn't mean it'll be 'ok'.

    Also, you're going to discover that .pdf is not as nice as you think it is. .pdf is great for laying out text and figures on pages of known size and then printing them at that size; it's amazing how wrong it all is when shrunk from 13.9" to 9.7", and it's amazing how obnoxious it is to keep zooming in and out of the .pdf's to fit the content to the screen to get rid of those 1" margins that have been included in the content.

    Along with the screen size.. is that resolution thing you mention. The regular iPad screen resolution is wholly unsuited to musical notation. Zooming photos is fun. Zooming sheets of music is not.

    And dropping the iPad on the pavement is not the only issue; scratches will become abundant, but I imagine any brass player could tell you about that. Remind me to tell you about the dent my aunt put in my dad's trombone when she used his instrument in band and hit a trumpet player. Now imagine the dents are in your iPad...

    Lastly: rain: the iPad doesn't mix with it. Although I had very little problem when apartment hunting through the light sprinkle this weekend, my first band camp "memories" video started with thunder claps, showed kids splashing up water when marking time, and then slipping and sliding through puddles of mud, some intentionally, some not. I don't know where you are, but where we were the morning dew was enough to make my pages stick together and wilt. Apple won't cover water damage.

    Maybe when Apple makes a military-grade version available for public consumption the mil-spec iPad will finally be tough enough to handle band camp.

    Oh, I noticed that in addition to the drill charts you also carried "coordinate sheets"? I always found drill charts to be entirely adequate for the job. (we gave every student a complete copy of the show, not sure how y'all run it). Dunno if that helps.

    Before you spend $100's on the iPad, find a friend with an iPad, and try using your drill charts in those .pdf's in the apps, try looking at it in the sunlight, and see if this is really something you want to do.

    If it works well, contact me and let's work on some iPad-intended drill chart apps.
  9. GavWhite thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 16, 2011
    Thanks for the insight, everyone. I'm still not 100% sure on my plans, but I'm leaning towards finding a friend's iPad 2 and at least testing out sunlight viewing, PDF readability on the current iPad 2 screen, etc. within the next two weeks. If I decide it's worth it for the season, I'll pick up the iPad 2 on the 30th or 31st and get it all set for camp (Aug 1-12).

    I'll look into the battery pack. Honestly, the longest we're on the field at any given time is something around 4 hours before breaking for lunch, dinner, or an indoor music rehearsal during the hottest part of the afternoon. With plenty of water breaks within those 4 hours and power on the field to charge, I wasn't expecting to need to charge, but you all reminded me that I'd probably be on max brightness the entire time.

    Thanks for reminding me about its use during those night practices! That'll come in handy during band camp for sure, as well as the fall season rehearsals when we need to use the back fields when the stadium-lit main field is occupied for the occasional soccer game. :p

    benspratling, thanks for the excellent insight! Interestingly, I've learned two things not to do with my camcorder (Canon Vixia HF10) after two seasons of constantly having it with me. First, the recessed lens and damp grass don't mix, and cleaning it isn't worth the nice, low-angle, moving shots. Second, leaving it on standby mode in enclosed spaces (such as in a car during the hot summer or even inside its padded carrying case during any kind of warm day) kills the device for several hours. The second is obviously more applicable to the iPad, so I don't plan on leaving it inside a hot car or even in sleep mode in my bag for very long. Like my camcorder, if I want to keep it in sleep mode, I'll carry it on me in open air where it's ventilated better. If I'm not using it for a long time, I'll turn it completely off before putting it in my bag.

    I'll see if I can borrow a friend's iPad and test it out for drill charts, music scores, and sunlight viewing. The drill charts would get more use, since that's primarily what we staff are fixing on the field -- forms and such. I'll see if I can try both the original PDFs from Pyware as well as a modified version with reduced margins, and see what difference that makes. If music scores are a hassle to use constantly, I'll revert to paper during indoor music rehearsals, but the PDF will be nice to have on the field if any of us or the students need a refresher on a few notes here or there.

    With rain, I'm looking into a few workarounds. There are a few waterproof cases out there, and for those times when rain comes out of nowhere, I usually carry a plastic bag to throw over my camcorder, I can bring another for the iPad.

    So yeah, I'll test things out and see where I want to go from there. If I use an iPad for the season and it turns out to be a good idea, I'll definitely look into expanding the usage further.

    BTW, the coordinate sheets are what we give to the students, while staff and section leaders get full drill charts. That way, for a three-movement show, the majority of students only need to carry three, quarter-sheets of paper around with them in a plastic ID pouch clipped onto their waists. (A Google Image search for "pyware coordinate sheet" will show you a few.) The students can always ask a section leader or staff member if they want to see what each form looks like. Maybe in the future I can distribute these smaller coordinate sheets to their phones and iPod Touches, but for now, the paper sheets are still more convenient. Easier to carry, easier to replace.
  10. CD4287 macrumors newbie

    Jul 11, 2011
    Wait, I know technology is moving forward and everything now, but I think you're going overboard. We weren't even allowed to wear watches on the field because we "would be distracted by knowing what time it was" and you are going to let people carry phones and iPods! You do realize that people will be "checking their spot" and playing games, texting, etc. Way to loose control of your students.
  11. GavWhite thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 16, 2011
    Our kids are pretty well disciplined, we technically do recommend they leave things like cell phones off to the sidelines, but we haven't really minded them on silent and kept in their pockets -- assuming they have pockets to begin with. (During the two-week camp, it's usually hot enough that the kids opt to wear the lightest clothing possible, which usually don't have pockets). They're pretty good about it and deciding appropriate times to use their phones. When they're not, we don't come down too hard on them, but we also make sure they don't forget it. ;)

    That said, I don't see us going that route in the foreseeable future. Again, the pros and cons just heavily favor the students continuing to use paper coordinate sheets, whereas the decision for staff to switch from binders to tablets is a little more likely, depending on a few things I'm hoping to test this week with an iPad 2. Readability in sunlight seems to be the deciding factor.
  12. cuhulin macrumors newbie

    Jul 18, 2011
    Meridian, ID
    I think you should try a friend's Ipad in the sun and see if it works for you. Then you have a question to answer regarding use of an Ipad or a field-proofed tablet like something from Motion Computing or Panasonic. You aren't one of your students, and their treatment of their instruments probably isn't how you treat your stuff.

    As to weather, look for a weather-proofed case.

    The one concern I believe is serious is heat. That's easy enough to answer, but you should check to see whether, if covered, you are still within safe tolerances.

    Personally, I think it sounds like a great idea, if you can get a device that works for you.

    ps: For the students, paper! It's amazing that we lived through those years!
  13. r0k macrumors 68040


    Mar 3, 2008
    Several things I would be concerned about:

    Sun - visibility in bright sunlight - more an issue at band camp than during the fall season

    Rain - ability to protect the iPad during the fall season

    Readability - You might have to take the time to do considerable "cropping" of music pages to get rid of fat wasteful borders. You really need a "music reflow" app similar to tablet and phone based pdf readers so that you aren't simply panning around a large bitmap image but rather you are seeing the notes for the measure of interest as "fonts" that can be zoomed as large as you like and swiping gets you the next measure not simply another region of the large bitmap image you are panning around trying to see jaggy notes.

    Power - the iPad should be able to make it through a couple of days of practice without a charge - depending on the brightness.

    Breakage - an iPad is not the first thing that jumps to mind when I think of what to pack for a camping trip. For the same reason, I don't think they are particularly well suited for marching band. Paper music sheets can be a pain to deal with but they don't break when you drop them on the field.
  14. Panch0 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 23, 2010
    I don't know what your documents really look like, but you might want to consider a Kindle DX as well. It allows you to view PDFs, and will definitely be visible in the sun. If you have to do a lot of zooming, or have images and text mixed, it may not be very usable.

    For the iPad, there are anti-glare screen protectors that might help.
  15. GavWhite thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 16, 2011
    Heat: Not too concerned. I don't plan on keeping it in a case*, leaving it in a car (esp. not in sleep mode), or out in direct sunlight when not in use. If I'm not using it for a while, it will be turned completely off and placed in open air in the shade (we usually have a "staff bench" somewhere convenient). If I am using it, I'm not going to leave or hold it in a position that exposes the faces to direct sunlight for extended times.

    Battery Life: Not concerned either. Yes, I'll probably use it on max brightness to help visibility, but I'll have plenty of opportunities to plug in and recharge. We take plenty of water breaks during field rehearsals (we have power cords on the sideline), about 45 minutes for lunch, afternoon rehearsals are always indoors (where there are outlets), more time for dinner, and then the night rehearsals should allow me to turn the brightness down.

    Weather: Minimal concern. I won't be keeping the iPad 2 in a case during August in order to keep it well ventilated, but if it starts raining, I'll have some plastic bags handy to cover it up (it's what I do for my camcorder as well. Once we get deeper into the season and the weather cools, I'll probably get an actual case.

    Durability: No concern. I take very good care of my electronics, so I'm not going to be throwing it around, leaving it on the ground, or anything like that. I'm looking into strap options as well to reduce the risk of dropping. Luckily, we only do fundamentals (where I won't need it) on the asphalt parking lot, whereas we're on a grass field during drill rehearsal (both at the school and at the away camp).

    Readability: This is the current issue. I'm looking into anti-glare options, and my black and white drill charts and sheet music should help in terms of contrast, so it's just a matter of making sure the screen is readable in sunlight. Of course, I could always luck out and it could be cloudy for two weeks of band camp. The rest of the season, we rehearse around sunset.

    Panch0 -- thanks for the Kindle DX suggestion. I've looked into it, and while the readability is great, and I might recommend this to any coworkers wanting something a bit more visible in the sun, I'm not quite sure it's the one for me. For starters, my $250 gift card is for the Apple Store :p but I also like that PDF apps like iAnnotate allow me to physically annotate my drill charts. Maybe I want to draw arrows to remind me which way the clarinets are moving into a particular set. Also, I can quickly view thumbnails and scroll through all the pages of drill to find the one I want -- good when we staff need to compare several pages of drill to solve any conflicts.

    (For those also wondering what these documents look like, just do a Google search for marching drill charts.)

Share This Page