The iPad…

I got a call this afternoon from a friend asking my (very much perceived…) wisdom regarding his potential iPad purchase and it got me thinking.

It’s something I get asked about quite a bit – like “do you use it much”, “what do you use it for?”, so I thought I’d write a few thoughts down. I’ve had each incarnation of the iPad, holding off of buying the new one until temptation got the better of me each time!

1) Do I use it much? Hell yes! All that idle surfing, tweeting, email monitoring, Facebooking is mostly on the iPad. It’s lighter, more portable, better battery life than the laptop, and with a decent case just easier to lug around.

2) So, which case? Well, for the iPad 2 and the new iPad, I’ve had a “YooBao” case from Amazon which gives the iPad full protection. I had the original iPad case for the iPad 1, this is similar although it’s leather, which is an improvement. It has the special magnet to switch the iPad on and off too. I prefer it to Apple’s new Smart Covers because it protects the whole iPad – front and back. It doesn’t add much bulk to the iPad, but does offer great protection. So far, I have never scratched an iPad!

3) Which version? Well, colour first. Black seems to present pictures better than a distracting white surround, so for me, I choose black. As for size, you probably won’t store a lot of music on it, I also think storing videos on it is wasteful, so I have stuck with 16GB WiFi for all of mine. However, the new iPad with the higher resolution screen has meant that Apps are expanding in size as do the resolution of pictures that you put on there. So, I really should have got the 32GB version I think, but I’m managing OK with 16GB. I don’t bother with 3G (4G won’t ever work in the UK anyway) as it’s another airtime SIM to worry about. I’d rather use a device like the MiFi, or the new XYfi that I’ve been testing recently, at least then I can connect my computer or Mrs. T’s iPad when required, but most of my iPad use is at home to be honest.

4) Email. A great tip if you don’t already use it is to use IMAP to access your email. If you don’t already, then why not? If you’re using POP, I think you’re mad! IMAP will allow multiple devices, your iPhone, iPad, computer etc to access the same email account, with a backup of email kept on the mail server. You can reply from one device, delete or move email and it’s replicated across the other devices. Neat.

5) Which Apps? Evernote is great. Put a few notes in and they are again, synchronised across all of your devices. DropBoxis similar, but more file based, but files that are recognised by the iPad are of course viewable on it. It’s also a simple way to get PDFs into iBooks. Use the link to get 2.5GB of DropBox space free. The Telegraph is great (I subscribe to the newspaper print edition, so the electronic subscription comes included), you can do the crossword electronically too! 1Password is a life saver, I use DropBox as the store for that, TV Guide is worth a look at too. There are many others, but there are plenty of sites to find great iPad Apps.

My iPad - click to see full size

6) Isn’t not having Flash support a problem? In a word, No. All the decent web sites are mobile aware these days. If not, they’re probably not up to date anyway!

7) What downsides are there? For me, I have chronic tennis elbow as a result of the way I hold the iPad. But then, I’m using it a lot. I mean probably at least four hours daily.

8) Is the battery life as good as it’s claimed? Yes. Unless you play Angry Birds a lot, which is pretty battery intensive, then it probably goes down to about six hours.

9) Other tips? Use the keyboard shortcuts – for example ‘pe’ on my iPad converts to my email address, ‘pw’ my web address. Check out Wireless Sync, built in, saves using the sync cable – you can keep that on the charger. Best to use the charger too, it’s faster than your computer’s USB port.

10) Isn’t Android better/cheaper/open? Maybe/yes etc. But, the iPad works, resale values as with other Apple kit is fantastic, so upgrading to new models is easy. The huge popularity of the iPad means that most developers develop for the iPad first, then for other platforms, and the huge disparity of screen resolutions (and versions) for other devices give developers nightmares. The closed thing doesn’t worry me either. I don’t think there’s any less choice as a result, and the fact that programs are pretty much QA tested gives a sense of quality and security that you don’t get on platforms that allow publishers a free-for-all scenario. In fact, I’ve even put some of my own, rather dubious quality, software out there in the past!

11) Other uses? It’s great as a recipe book. Recipes from the web etc, or from your favourite book can be viewed on the wipe-clean screen. You can avoid getting flour on your favourite book. Books are great. I have all of my camera manuals in my iPad (and iPhone). Handy for those complex flashgun settings that I can never remember, plus, I can now find the manuals! All my contacts, calendars all sync across my MacBook, iPad and iPhone.

One more downside of the new iPad is when I go back to the MacBook, the display on the computer looks awful. You really don’t realise how good the iPad display is until you use a ‘normal’ one again!

I expect there are many, many other things I’ll remember once I’ve posted this, maybe I’ll add them when I do.

I can do that from the iPad, after all.

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