This holiday weekend is the first time I’ve taken the iPad on the road. I didn’t bring my laptop with me–a deliberate effort to see how well I could get along without it, and how many of my most common tasks I could perform using just the iPad and my wireless keyboard.
I’m pleased to say that I’ve been able to do just about everything that I would normally do and without any added strain or inconvenience.
Obviously, I’ve been able to blog. I prefer using the WordPress web interface for blogging than the WordPress app for the iPad. I have access to all of my normal functions on the web interface (including my plug-in that allows me to pick photos from Picasa). The only thing missing is rich text formatting. That’s only a minor inconvenience since I’m fluent in HTML, but I wonder how this will change (improve?) with WordPress 3.2.
(Incidientally, I installed the WordPress 3.2 Health Check plug-in this morning, using just the web interface available on the iPad. Turns out my host already has all of the necessary versions of PHP and MySQL to support 3.2. It was also nice to know that I could do that type of administrative work from the iPad.)
The downside to the web interface on the iPad is that the scrollbars for the text fields don’t show up and scrolling through them can be awkward. In fact, without the wireless keyboard, I’m not sure I’d be able to scroll through them at all.
My friend Michael J. Sullivan introduced me to Flipboard, a free application that acts as a feed aggregator and social network aggregator which displays all of these things in a magazine-like format on the screen. That means I can read my Twitter feed, my Facebook updates, my Google Reader feeds, plus news and other things all from one place, all in magazine format. Here is what my Twitter feed looks like in Flipboard:
With a wireless connection, it’s been easy to keep up with my social network using Flipboard. And in those cases when I’ve come across an interesting article but didn’t have time to read it, I sent it to Instapaper (the app of which I have installed on the iPad).
Just before heading out on the road trip, the most recent issues of Locus and New Scientist came out. originally, I was using iAnnotate to read PDF files. (I get the electronic version of Locus, and while it is available in a variety of formats, I have been reading the PDF version.) The problem with iAnnotate is that I don’t like the page transitions. A friend told me about GoodReader, and that has all of the PDF annotation capability I was looking for, and the page transitions I like. It made it easy to download the PDF, open it in GoodReader, and read the issue.
I liked reading New Scientist on the iPad so much that I decide not to wait for my print subscription to expire and I subscribed to the electronic version using Zinio. So I was able to read the most recent version of New Scientist on the iPad using Zinio and the experience was just as good as the magazine.
With both of these, I was able to read them easily on the iPad, and I didn’t have to bring a stack of magazines with me.
Before I left on the road trip, I synced my Scrivener project with SimpleNote. If I open up SimpleNote on the iPad, I have access to all of my working files. But the truth is, I haven’t had much time to write fiction on the road trip, and I’m pretty much resigned to no fiction writing until I get back home.
Last night before bed, when I needed to wind down a bit, I opened up HBOGO and watched an episode of the Sopranos. The quality was–as near as I could tell–HD-like.
The battery life on this device has been outstanding. I haven’t charged it since the middle of the afternoon yesterday, and despite pretty regular usage, I’m still above 50%.
The more I use the iPad, the more impressed I am with the device and the more I realize that I really can get away without needing a laptop to do most of what I do on a regular basis
I went to an iPad and tower computer configuration almost a year ago, and it has worked great. Super powerful home computer for cheap money and all the portability I could ask for. The one draw back is that I can’t read outside.
I am in the middle of proofing the galleys for Rise of Empire. Orbit sent me a printed manuscript, which is a stack of paper literally 8 inches tall. Rather than truck that around, I had them send me a PDF which I am proofing through Goodreader.
It works great, and I love the way the notes can be viewed in a straight list, but this weekend I went to the National Mall with my wife. We had this idea of sitting under the shade of the big trees and reading together (she is also proofing Rise on her iPad.) But the sunlight and screen reflection is really obnoxious.
I am a huge fan of the iPad, and I think this is only a problem for me because the iPad is so portable. If it were a laptop, I would never consider reading outdoors. But on lovely summer days when I want to sit outside at a coffee shop or in a park, it can really be an annoyance.
Perhaps I should just learn to wear a dark hood.
Akin to Flipboard, check out Zite as well. 🙂
John, I downloaded the app. At first I thought it was the same idea as Flipboard, but I watched the demo video and I see now that it is a content-discovery service based on your Twitter and Google Reader feeds. Nice idea. Thanks for the recommendation.