I received my iPad in late April, and guess what? Having started this column emphasizing my anti-Apple techie credibility, I will admit this: I love the iPad. No, I’m not going to go hop on the Apple bandwagon: I’ll stick with my PC and my MP3 player, at least for now. But I am an iPad fan, and here’s why:
Light Mobile Utility
The iPad isn’t going to replace notebooks and laptops for mobile professionals who need real computer programs, spreadsheet capabilities or strong word processing functions. I’m sure the iPad will get better at these things in the future, but at least in the near-term, it isn’t a “computer” in the traditional sense of the word. The iPad is, instead, a mobile information and entertainment platform that bridges the space between full-work and full-play. What do I mean by that?
Shortly after receiving my iPad, I attended the Sage Insights Conference in Denver. While I’d had the chance to experiment with the device for a few weeks prior, the conference was my first opportunity to use it in a work setting. My plan was to use the iPad as my conference sidekick, but also to bring along my regular laptop for the more intensive writing projects. Instead, I didn’t even bring a laptop. And over the course of the four-day conference, the iPad was able to handle virtually all of my needs.
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There are two general versions of the device on the market, both have wireless capabilities, but one has 3G (like mobile smartphones); each is then also offered with different hard drive capacities. I have the model with wireless and no 3G, and here’s the primary reason why I think it’s sufficient for most users: I don’t plan on walking much while using it (that could be dangerous around cars, although I did a little bit of walk/iPadding around Denver’s 16th Street Mall). I also don’t expect to head out to the lake with it or take it camping.
My point is that, most of the time, if I’m wanting to use my iPad it will be in a location that has wireless available, such as airports, a hotel, restaurant, coffee shop, conference center, the office or my home. Our Executive Editor, Darren Root, CPA.CITP (a noted Mac fan) wanted the additional mobility, so he opted for the 3G model (see his column at www.CPATechAdvisor.com/go/2841).
At the Denver conference, most of my daily activities consisted of taking notes during keynotes, educational sessions, interviews with company executives and product managers, and also communication functions, such as checking in on my email, keeping up with national, world and technology news, and posting updates to our website and blog (www.CPATechViews.com). Of course, I also spent time posting and “socializing” with professional and personal friends on Facebook and Twitter, and playing a few games or working on the latest Sudoku.
I could have done all of these things with a laptop or even a smartphone, but not in the same way. A laptop takes how many minutes to turn on and find a wireless network and log in? It’s portable, yes, but not exactly something you want to carry around with you all day just because you might need it for intermittent use. A smartphone would offer an even more lightweight option, but accessing all of these functions is not usually as intuitive, and the QWERTY keyboards on smartphones, including my Motorola, on BlackBerrys and even the iPhone, are tiny. But I was able to use the iPad’s large touch-screen keyboard fairly accurately and with nearly the same speed as a traditional keyboard. An external wireless Bluetooth keyboard can also be used with the iPad.
Better Size/Better Speed
The iPad, however, is very lightweight (1.5 lbs) and turns on in about two seconds. Actually, if it is “hard off” it can take 20-30 seconds to reboot, but I find that I turn it off about as often as my phone, which is essentially never. And even though it is, therefore, “on” all the time, it can last through an entire day of use. While at the conference, I left it turned on all day, and it never dropped below 50 percent battery charge. A laptop certainly can’t boast that, unless you’ve brought extra batteries (plural). So it’s portable and quick and has a screen size that is much more functional for reading documents and spreadsheets, viewing websites, or using entertainment functions.