Well my self control wavered and I ordered an iPad and after a few days with it I wanted to post some initial thoughts…
In an effort not to repeat what everyone else has said on the topic I will concede that an iPad is not a laptop replacement, but neither is it just a big iPhone…
Let me talk about a few of the things I have used the iPad for in the last 3-4 days.
- Surfing the Web
- Safari (and the other browsers like iCab etc) are a fantastic way to browse the web in a comfortable and intuitive way… I’m already finding myself sat at my desk a little less often! Yes it’s not perfect, with no flash, but on the whole this hasn’t been an issue so far…
- The email client on the iPad is excellent, and when they add the iOS4 features of conversation view and multiple exchange accounts it will be even better
- For twitter I have been using Osfoora, which whilst not perfect is a very pleasant way to read and post to my twitter feed
- I’ve had a bit of a look at iBooks and Kindle today and am not sure if it is for me, but will have a go… With the ability to sync PDFs to iBooks, this might be very useful as a reference tool. You could for example carry school handbooks, textbooks etc…
- RSS feeds
- I’m using Reeder for checking my Google Reader RSS feeds. This is a fantastic app and is the first app that I have actually found better at managing and reading my RSS feeds then the google reader web interface! Check it out!
- I haven’t yet explored the wide range of note taking and office style apps, so have only used the built in Notes app. However this is much more a comment about the virtual keyboard… The keyboard is amazing! I was so surprised how quickly I can type with it in landscape orientation. I attended an INSET day on Friday with a group of about 12 teachers and I wouldn’t have felt comfortable having my laptop out to take notes as it would have been too intrusive. However with the iPad on my lap I sat and took notes throughout the day. One of the nice things about a virtual keyboard is that it is silent! None of the click-clacking, which again makes it a great tool for use in meetings etc, which coupled with its low profile (even in a case) means that you are not putting up barriers between you and the rest of the room in the way that laptops do…
There are definitely things that are not perfect yet. It needs a good office app that is fully compatible with MS Office. It needs a proper blogging tool something like an equivalent to MS LiveWriter (The current WordPress app doesn’t allow any formatting or inserting of images etc). A built in camera would also be useful at times!
However that said I could see this being a perfect tool for the SMT in the school, a great tool for reading and performing some editing of documents on. Keeping track of email, and task lists, and taking notes in meetings. It is incredibly portable and light and a could easily be carried about around school.
I’m not quite sure where it would be useful for students, I still think that for students to get the most out of a tablet-esq machine it would need to work with a stylus as well as fingers. However the excellent battery life (I got through two days of fairly constant use over Wifi and 3G before needing to recharge!) and the low profile makes it an interesting classroom tool. Coupled with appropriate online tools it has the potential to be a very interesting classroom tool! I can’t wait to see what people do with it in their classrooms!
As the Apple case is sold out everywhere I decided to go with a leather case and bought the Noreve Tradition iPad case, this has the same features as the apple case in becoming a typing or viewing stand but is made from a slightly more padded leather. In addition it includes a fantastic ‘rails’ system which the ipad slides into so that you don’t have anything covering the beautiful iPad screen. So far I am very impressed, even if it was a little more than I had wanted to spend!
Next step for me is to get a capacitive stylus and see how well that works and explore the potential for office document uses…
If you have an iPad what have you done with yours?