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technotes

A week with the iPad

posted by Kristin Lynch

Apr 15

Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase
I spent about a month deciding whether or not I'd be plopping down some cash to buy an Apple iPad, then another few days listening to nerdy discussions about which version to buy - the WiFi version now available, or wait until the 3G version makes its appearance in late April. I opted to get the mid-range 32GB WiFi version.

My reasoning?

1. My experience with my MacBook Pro has been that I've almost always been able to connect via WiFi wherever I am.

2. I already have an unlimited access iPhone that's always with me so I'm never disconnected via 3G, and I really don't need to shell out any additional service fees to AT&T anyway. This model saved me about $250 over the 3G model I had previously considered.

3. It's probably just a matter of time before MiFi becomes more accessible and more reasonably priced.

4. The only time I'd likely suffer from a lack of WiFi coverage is on the road, and since I travel alone 99% of the time, I can't really use the device while I'm driving. Well, I COULD but that would be really stupid.

So what do I think of it so far? I love it. Reading books is great, typing takes a little to get used to, but the learning curve is no different than that of an iPhone or BlackBerry. The screen is beautiful, movies and games are more enjoyable. Some of my favorite cool iPhone apps have already been rebuilt beautifully for the iPad - making use of the large screen and space. Battery life is very impressive, and the device turns on instantly - there's no such thing as booting up.

I use a lot of book documentation for my work and now have about 16 of them in PDF version on my iPad. That alone is worth it to me. I don't have to carry my laptop around when I just want to read my PDFs, and they're very handily available docked next to my laptop while I code. I have several PowerPoint presentations I need to access regularly for an ongoing training project. Additionally, I have several software manuals saved there in PDF format for reference purposes.

The entertainment tools - photos, music, movies, games - are splendid. You have to try them yourself to get the full effect. I can't do it justice. New applications are being released for the device every day and many are very impressive.

Some favorites: GoodReader is a very nice document manager. The NetFlix application plays your streaming library. AirStudio accesses your home movie library over your WiFi network connection. Evernote - already a favorite Windows, Mac and iPhone application - is very impressive on the iPad. The iBook application is getting so much use when I go to bed that I'm losing sleep. Elements is a gorgeous way to present the periodic table. This application alone gives us an idea about the future of books and how we'll use information.

So far my friends' reactions have ranged from 'yeah hi where is it?', 'ooh slick....now I want one' to 'I still have no idea why I would need one but I kind of want one anyway'. I was asked to talk with a class of Mercyhurst College students recently about my career. I brought my iPad to show the instructor - a longtime friend and fellow geek, who immediately took a photo of it and sent it to his wife. The class was understandably more interested in seeing the device than hearing me blather on about myself, and they had some great questions. I've been asked about the inability to connect peripherals, and the likelihood of the iPad becoming a laptop replacement. My answer depends on who's asking. If you mainly use your computer for web surfing, e-mail, watching videos, listening to music and viewing photos, then this could become a great portable device for you. For heavy computer users like me, no - but it can be a great device for managing those tasks without needing to access your desktop or laptop.

As much as I enjoy the iPad, I have to believe that the real 'killer app' for the device hasn't even been released yet. An app is going to be released and consumers will say 'wow, OK now I know why I need an iPad.' I think we will see that day very soon.

Incidentally, I wrote this entire post on my iPad using the WordPress application.
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