Saturday, January 15, 2011

I love my iPad

A touchscreen tablet? I did not think I would get one, having purchased a Dell NetBook back in 2009. But then I played with a friend's iPad and ended up buying one for myself in May 2010. I haven't looked back and I have been all smiles since!

Don't get me wrong. I am a PC guy. I have used Macs over the years but I love my PCs. But I have to give Apple the props on their design for the iPhone (I have a 3Gs) and the iPad. I use these devices all day long and have been very pleased with how reliable, functional, and 'cool' they are. With the release of iOS 4.2, about the only thing I wish they did was support Flash (other than just for YouTube).

But let's focus on the iPad. The thing just works. I can do about 90% of tasks I used to use my NetBook/Laptop for but now with a device that is much lighter, easier to carry around, always online (with 3G), and whose battery lasts for over 10 hours. (And yes, it looks like a handheld PADD device from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Who doesn't want one of THOSE!)

The key to the power of the iPad is the wealth of applications that have been developed specifically for its screen size and faster processor (compared to the iPhone). The 'apps' give the iPad a level of flexibility that allows me to accomplish what I need for business, hobby work, entertainment, social networking and collaboration, and task management.

So what apps do I use the most? Well here are some of the 70+ apps in my arsenal. Some are free, many are not. But since the average price of an app is about $3.00, you can pretty much give up the soda machines and fast food for a week to be able to afford anything you will need to be productive.

1) Cases
Okay, so these aren't apps but I have two cases that I love. One is the Apple Case which also serves as a stand for the iPad (both landscape and portrait), and, the ThinkGeek Bluetooth Keyboard case which also becomes a stand and includes a built-in keyboard for when you need to do some serious long-term keyboarding work.

2) Osfoora HD ($3.99)
If you are a Twitter enthusiast, then you need a client that will use the screen real estate well. Osfoora does that and a lot more. It provides the full-featured Twitter publishing environment you need to keep on top of the Twitterverse. There is a version of TweetDeck for iPad as well.

3) The Weather Channel (FREE)
This app is great for tracking weather conditions, severe alerts, etc. and offers good doppler radar displays, video weather reports, and forecast information.

4) Appigo ToDo ($4.99)
If you are a busy person who needs to track 'to do' lists for multiple categories like work vs personal, then you need an app like this. ToDo can organize your tasks and supports task types like checklists, simple tasks, contact tasks, and multi-step tasks with ease. And, it will synchronize over WiFi with Outlook and several 'cloud-based' solutions. It also supports Notifications for upcoming tasks, etc.

5) FaceBook (FREE)
Yes, I am addicted to FaceBook. So if you are a FaceBook fan, this is a very helpful app to use. Sure, you can surf to the FaceBook web site itself, but this app can help you do most FB actions more quickly and supports Notifications for activities happening on your page. Note: This app is an iPhone app that runs on the iPad.

6) Evernote for iPad (FREE)
This is one of the best notetaking apps for the iPad (and iPhone). It integrates seamlessly with the web site, allowing you to create, view, and manage notes from various sources into 'notebooks' that are stored both locally and synchronized on the 'cloud'. Your notes can be shared with others and are accessible across multiple platforms/devices. This is a great tool for meeting notetaking. And if there is no Internet available, it will store your notes locally and sync them when you are online later.

7) Max Journal ($1.99)
This is a wonderful application for journaling (business, personal, etc.). It supports multiple journals so you can keep business and personal reflections separate. You can also assign passwords for security. You are able to not only enter text but also include embedded photos and categorize each note with multiple tags for searching purposes. Journal entries are tracked by date and can be backed up to another computer via iTunes.

8) BlogPress ($2.99)
This is a great tool for managing your WordPress, Blogger, or other blogging site. There are several apps for this type of work, including specific apps for WordPress. But I find this tool very easy to use and it allows for both the creation and management of your blog posts as well as being able to announce new postings to Twitter, FaceBook News Feed, etc.

9) Skype (FREE)
Skype is great on the iPad (and the iPhone). You can conduct both voice and text chat with your Skype buddies and even conduct a video chat (albeit for now the video is one way -- you can see the other person but obviously you cannot transmit video cuz there is no camera on the current iPad). Certainly when iPad 2 comes out this year, the video chat will become two-way.

10) Office2 HD ($7.99)
This is the second most expensive app I have installed at the moment. This app allows the creation and editing of Microsoft Word and Excel documents. It can handle the basic word processing features but cannot handle complex documents yet. It supports cloud storage which is a big plus. There are other products out there, notably Documents to Go and Quick Office Connect but they are more expensive.

11) Wyse PocketCloud Professional ($14.99)
This is the most expensive app I have. This is for all the IT and business folks out there who need to access a server on their network or the cloud using the Microsoft Remote Desktop (RDP). This is an excellent tool that provides all the functionality you need to be successful. If you work in IT, and you have Microsoft Server technology, this is a must-have.

Other apps by Category

Communications: VNC Viewer, IM+, WebEx, GoToMeeting
Office Automation: Numbers, Keynote, Google Docs, PDF Reader Pro
Shopping: Amazon Windowshop, eBay, Best Buy, CraigsPro, Groupon
Entertainment: ABC Player, PBS, Hulu Plus, NetFlix, Pocket Tunes, Pandora, UStream, Fandango
Travel: GPS Drive HD, FlightTrack Pro, Kayak HD, Google Earth
IT Stuff: IT Tools, FTPontheGo
Cloud Storage: Box.Net, DropBox
eReaders/Audiobooks: iBooks, Kindle, Audible


I won't even get into Games in this posting because that is a topic unto itself. Suffice to say that if you like gaming, you will have a plethora to choose from. Angry Birds, Need for Speed, Words with Friends, Cut the Rope, Jeopardy.... Oh wait, I said I wouldn't go there...

Bottom Line

If you are considering getting an iPad, my only suggestion as of right now is wait until March/April when Apple announces the iPad 2. It supposedly will be faster, have dual cameras, be lighter and thinner, have a louder speaker, and perhaps an even better display. But official specs have not been published at this time.

The iPad is a fantastic tool -- very useful, very flexible. Are there other devices out there right now that compete? Nah. But the recent Consumer Electronics Show promised a bunch of competitors coming in 2011. So we will see. But for right now, the iPad is the trendsetter and leading the pack.

Looking for information about the iPad as far as what apps are out there? Looking for recommendations? I watch a weekly video podcast produced by TWIT.TV called iPad Today. It is an excellent source for app reviews, iPad features, discussion, and ideas. You can watch them LIVE weekly on Thursdays at 3:30pm CST or download their podcast from their site or subscribe to it via iTunes.


  1. I love my ipad a lot I can watch live TV through my DISH Network service and it was a very easy set up I downloaded DISH Network remote access which was a free app and love being able to set my recordings from the iPad. As a DISH employee I know that you have to have a Sling adapter that connects right to my 722 receiver box. I know Comcast customers can do this as well but Comcast customer cannot take the iPad out side the home as right now.

  2. Great Blog Post, as an iPad soon-to-have, I am definitely waiting for 2.0. A few comments though:

    1. Appigo's Todo is awesome, I can't wait to get the iPad version, I've seen some great screenshots of it.

    2. Evernote, I dropped evernote because sync errors are getting worse and worse, even getting to the point that notes are disappearing. You notice this at all on your end?

    3. Interesting cases. :)

    Good post :)


  3. I noticed the sync issues with Evernote last month but I have not experienced it since then. I have not lost any of my documents or notebooks. Perhaps since I store my stuff locally on the iPad, if a sync failed, it just gets attempted at a later time.

    Connan, I use AT&T UVerse and they offer an app that allows me to manage my DVR from the Internet. It is quite helpful to be able to record and see the guide. The one weird thing is: if I run the app on my iPhone, I can watch some shows through the app. But that same app when installed on the iPad does not allow it. I wonder if AT&T does not have the approval/licenses to show stuff on the iPad yet? Seems strange.... oh well, I assume that will be coming in the future.

    In the meantime, I will watch Hulu Plus, ABC, PBS, NetFlix, LiveStream, UStream, and VEVO HD on my iPad and be quite satisfied!

  4. I decided to change to another app I had been looking at for a while. "Notebook" by Appigo. It was 99 cents and provided the cloud for free and was a lot less gimmicky. Syncing is done well and assures me it actually did sync. The app also let me change fonts and insert bullets into each note and a whole list of features. The app itself is a bit out of date, but it works for my needs and I'm not dependent upon Evernote to keep their server running anymore. I also don't have to worry about some data-limit on my cloud either. I already have to watch my actual 3G/texting limit, I'm not going to add apps that force me to watch their limits as well. Regardless if its free or not.