Laptop Thoughts: 60 Days With The iPad; Now What?

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

60 Days With The iPad; Now What?

Posted by Eric Juillerat in "Other Slates & Tablets" @ 07:00 AM

The Best (Office) Intentions...

When I purchased the iPad, my hope was that it would do, say, 85% of what my MacBook Pro does for me in the office. I purchased Pages, Numbers, ToDo, PaperDesk, and more. I continued with the iPad external keyboard, stands, special cases and totes. I literally set up an office around the iPad. And, I actually did work on it through two projects; well one...or so. In the 60 days I have had the iPad, I have not visited those apps but a few times, and I still find myself going to my MacBook Pro for business and writing. Thinking back, for the price, I could have purchased a MacBook. Even a MacBook Air wouldn't have been inconceivable given the price of the iPad with apps and accessories. But, sigh, in the end the iPad just doesn't do real business.

iWork - Just Not On An iPad... Why?

Well, for one, the Apple iPad iWork apps (Pages and Numbers), as capable as they are, just aren't really compatible with MS Office apps. Converting and formatting problems exist (think MS Office Docs and MS Mobile Office Docs and you get it). If you have a large spreadsheet or complex document, you will lose function and or performance working with those docs on the iPad. Transferring files is cumbersome at best. If the iPad had a USB port transferring would be much easier, but - it doesn't. When I first wrote this, the iPad documents had to be sent to the user via e-mail to retrieve on a real computer to print, reformat, or integrate with other business apps. That was a deal breaker. Today, as Apple has just released an update to the iWork apps, you can connect to your MobileMe account to retrieve your documents; and I like this. Still, MobileMe acts as a 3rd party, and uploading working docs gets old pretty fast. Things are just more difficult in iWork, and quickly I stopped forcing the issue.

Forcing It To Work

Having the external iPad keyboard for work with the iPad is a must. But alas, Steve deemed my 10-Key not necessary for me to be happy and functional. When using Numbers I miss the 10-Key. I did resolve the problem somewhat, with NumPad by Edovia Inc., but it just isn't the same (I can recommend this app - which works well with your laptop by the way). Perhaps you can start to see the problems stacking up. Let me paint the picture: iPad, stand, keyboard, iPhone (for NumPad), and finally my mouse...I mean finger. It's just a lot of separate devices pretending they're as useful as your laptop! And if you can actually get all of these devices on your lap, just don't breathe or make sudden movements as the slightest twitches can send devices hurling over the abyss of frustration and angst. Oh, and don't press too hard or you might just move your stand, which is holding your iPad mind you. You see, for normal work, the iPad just requires too many separate accessories, including my real computer, and is just too awkward to be acceptable, or useful, for business.

App Integration... Missing

As far as the other business apps go, they are really neat but too discordant. There is no integration or harmony between the apps. You can forget about having multiple windows open to monitor reminders or project lists while working, because nothing runs in the background on iOS. You can forget about receiving a reminder in one app while working in another. Calendar will solve this, but now how many calendars am I managing? I am going to have to look for another app to help me out with this!

Nope, despite my best intentions - and investment, the iPad just doesn't do real business real well. If I want to view documents for reference, iWork is acceptable; and it's nice. If I want to use the iPad for real business, iWork and Apps really don't work so well. In the end, it's just a great companion for my computer. But, I already have one of those. I call it the iPhone. And do I really need a big iPhone?


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