I got a notification that my new iPad is currently in the UPS facility in Lexington, KY, less than a 3 hour drive from my house. That got me to thinking – exactly what am I going to use the new 64GB WiFi-only iPad for?
Well, I’m going to try to use it to replace my current work computer: an HP 5101 netbook. The little HP has served me well, but I’m thinking that the iPad can do even better. Along with the 5101, I use a Cradlepoint 3G-WiFi router with an AT&T Mercury USB cellular modem plugged into it to access the net – which is why I didn’t purchase the 3G enabled version of the iPad.
I’m an IT management consultant who travels about 40 weeks a year. So, my work computer needs to be small and lightweight, yet powerful enough to create the products of my work: documents, presentations, and the occasional spreadsheet. I also create project plans – currently using Microsoft Project to do so. I also make extensive use of the Web, using Web-based email (Gmail for personal and Outlook Web Access for work), Toodledo for task management, and Google Calendar for appointments.
My work computer also serves as a general Web browsing platform into social networks, in my case Twitter and Facebook. I use them for two purposes: to stay in contact with friends and family, and as a source of technology news. Social networks have even replaced RSS feeds as my primary source of up-to-the-minute information on technology.
In addition, I use my iPhone quite a bit, for performing the same tasks as the netbook when I’m away from my computer. I use Pocket Informant syncing with Toodledo and Google Calendars as my PIM, DocsToGo to read and perform limited updates on documents, spreadsheets, presentations and even project plans (by saving my Microsoft Project plans to Excel for access by DocsToGo). It also serves as my travel manager using FlightTrack, TripIt, Siri, AroundMe, Point Inside, LocalEats, and Yelp applications, and as an entertainment device for listening to music and audio books, and viewing movies and TV episodes. I even play the occasional game on it.
So, how is the iPad going to replace the HP netbook? By using the iWorks applications for creating documents, spreadsheets and presentations, and using Safari to access my Web-based applications and for general browsing. I’ve purchased three accessories to help facilitate this: the Apple Wireless Keyboard, the Apple iPad case (which can serve as a stand), and the VGA adapter for hooking the iPad into a projector for presentations. In addition, I plan on using LogMeIn Ignition whenever needed. I already own it for my iPhone and have been amazed at how well it lets me access my monster desktop system at home. This system is a Gateway quad-processor with 8GB of memory, and almost 2TB of disk space, and with 2 attached printers. Anytime I might need a Windows application that has functionality unavailable on my iPad, I plan on running it remotely on my home system through the iPad. I can also use it to remotely access client systems using Citrix on my home desktop.
The iPad will also undoubtedly replace quite a bit of my iPhone usage. The ability to run iPhone applications on a much bigger screen, especially when these applications are rewritten to take advantage of the larger screen, will make for a much better usage experience. In particular, I’m really looking forward to viewing movies and TV episodes on a plane using the iPad.
So, what challenges do I foresee? I really only see one: printing!
Every single week, I need to be able to print out expense reports and receipts for faxing to my company’s office (yes, they plan on automating this process SOMEDAY!), as well as occasionally printing out a document or presentation for review with my clients. At this moment in time, I’m not aware of any way to print out iWorks documents, or other documents from the iPad. I own and use ActivePrint Traveler on my iPhone, but it only works with text files, pictures, and Web pages.
I do know that ActivePrint has announced plans for an iPad version of the program that adds support for printing Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents, but nothing about iWorks nor any details on exactly how these Microsoft Office documents are printed or even how they would be stored on the iPad.
So, I’ll only really know how well the iPad will work for me after I’ve actually used it for a while on the road. I plan on bringing along my HP netbook on my first business trip with the iPad as insurance, but I’m going to really try and make it work as my primary traveling work computer. I’ll try and keep you up-to-date on how well it works out.