I originally wanted to get the iPad for my Masters, both as a testbed for the thesis I’m working on, and as a secondary screen for watching Adobe Connect sessions on, as well a PDF reader. As for other uses, I was actually skeptical that it would be really useful for anything other than a toy. But with the right combination of accessories it’s actually quite versatile and I find that we use it for many things that I hadn’t considered.
The Right Gear
The first 2 things I knew I would need were:
- a cover/stand
- and a screen protector (a clear film that protects the screen)
Re the case and stand Otterbox were the first brand that came to mind. I’ve used it before on my iPhone, and while the bulky case adds weight and detracts from the aesthetics for my money that’s a price worth paying for the extra protection on the iPad (well, that and €70!). In the 2 months I’ve used it I’ve been very happy with the case, and the main screen cover also doubles as a stand that allows viewing at 30 and 60 degrees. One downside is that when used as a cover this rubs against the screen, and I’d worry that this could in fact actually end up damaging rather than protecting the screen.
If you order from Otterbox directly it also ships with a screen protector, although in the end I opted for a different option and coughed up for a Zagg invisibleSHIELD (I got the Otterbox and Zagg seperately on eBay and it came to approx the same amount). Obviously because it’s much bigger than an iPhone screen it was much trickier to fit to the iPad, but I eventually got it on (although it took several attempts to get the Otterbox back on as the film kept lifting at the edges while the case was slid over).
In the first post where I decied to get the iPad I also mentioned that I might also get a keyboard, but instead of going for an Apple I went for a a Logitech iPad keyboard, due mainly to better reviews on various, and so far I’m impressed. The keyboard itself doesn’t weight much (at least the weight of the keyboard and iPad is less than a laptop), and the case can double as a stand if you haven’t already got one. But the main reason I went for it is the keys are nice and smooth. For the vast majority of web browsing and multimedia stuff the keyboard isn’t necessary at all, but if you need to do any bit of word processing it’s a must, but I’ll go on to that in a second.
A Really Useful TV
One the things that we end up using it for (a lot!) is as a secondary TV. I don’t have a regular TV service in the house, but the 20mb broadband allows “us to use apps like the RTE player and Netflix on both the laptop and PS3. But given the excellent battery life, and the fact that both of these are available as iPad apps, the iPad is unbeleivably useful as a “TV”. Add in a pair of decent headphones and we can both sit on the couch and watch 2 completely different things at the same time. Domestic bliss! And because the iPad doesn’t need cables it’s no problem to bring it around without having to pause what your watching (if making the above pictured espresso, for example).
Obviously on it’s own the iPad does not a good word processor make. But fitted with the aforementioned keyboard, and using Evernote as the backend, the iPad is surprisingly useful for text processing. Because of there size, neither the keyboard or iPad are stable enough to use on your lap, but on a regular desk it works perfectly well. As long as it’s just plain text (with no formatting) I find the iPad is actually at an advantage over using the laptop as there are less distractions. So what I often end up doing is using the iPad to just do all the really hard stuff (ie content generation) in Evernote, and then tidy it up later on the laptop. (That’s actually how I’m writing the blog at the minute!)
Oh yeah, I’d Recommend one
My biggest worry was that after the expense of getting one was that the novelty would wear off after 2 days and it would be thrown in the corner, like the old gen 1 Galaxy Tab I have. But I really pleased with the iPad 2, to the point that instead of buying a second replacement laptop for the both of us, we’ll just use the iPad in it’s place. Sure, I still need the big laptop for a lot of the “heavy lifting”, but the iPad is definitely feeling a lot more roles than I ever realised it could do.