Going iPad: One Year Later

It was one year ago this past Thursday when my iPad 2 arrived in the mail. So I thought it would be a good time as any to review my experiences with the tablet over the last year. To sum up the experience, however, the iPad was well worth the cost. Indeed, with the various apps I use, I have probably saved several times the cost of the device in labor-savings, efficiencies, and other cost-saving uses.

Me, this morning, celebrating the countless ways I've found to use my iPad in the last year.

The things I use most frequently

In the year that I’ve had to play and experiment, I’ve put together a “home” screen for my iPad that reflects my daily use and behavior.


Starting on the bottom are the apps I use most frequently. They are there because they’ll appear on any page I happen to be on. I think that my home screen reflects three activities that I do a lot of on my iPad:

  1. Reading (Kindle, Zinio, iBooks, Reeder)
  2. Writing and capturing information (Evernote, Paper, Penultimate, OmniOutliner)
  3. Social Networking (Gmail, Twitter, Facebook)

There are also a few apps here that I use to relax: SiriusXM satellite radio, Music, and HBO GO.

Reading on the iPad

With the exception of the issues of Astounding Science Fiction that I read for my Vacation in the Golden Age, virtually everything I read these days is on the iPad. Indeed, I can count on one hand the number of individual books or magazines that I did not read on my iPad since it arrived. Now, if I didn’t read very much, this may not sound like an impressive claim. But regular readers of this blog know that I read quite a bit, books and short fiction, as well as various magazines.

Using the Kindle App for my iPad, in addition to reading most of the books I buy, I also read Analog, Asimov’s, F&SF, Clarkesworld, and InterGalactic Medicine Show. In addition, I read Locus using the Kindle App. I’ve also recently started reading Scientific American in the Kindle App, importing the monthly PDF files of each issue. Using the iBooks App, I read Lightspeed. In the last year, I’ve put quite a bit of mileage into the Kindle App.


Using the Zinio App for my iPad, I also read New Scientist, Discover, and Rolling Stone. Zinio has been a great app, second probably only to the Kindle App for my iPad reading. I love that I can take all my issues of all my magazines everywhere with me.


I use the Reeder App for all of my RSS feeds. This wonderful app can capture everything I filter through Google Reader and it’s simple and elegant interface makes it easy to keep up with the various blogs and sites that I read (more than a hundred at this point).


Writing on the iPad

When I first got my iPad, I had to experiment with different ways of writing fiction that would allow me to integrate with Scrivener, which is my primary writing tool on my Mac laptop. At first, I used SimpleNote to sync with Scriverner. Eventually, I found a better solution, using Scrivener, Dropbox, and Elements. This last solution has worked well for me since I discovered it.

In writing on my iPad, I don’t use the touch screen, which would be far too slow for me. I use the exact same keyboard–the same physical keyboard–that I use when I am writing at my desk at home. I have a standard Mac wireless BlueTooth keyboard that I sync with my MacBook. When I am going to be away from the house and I know I’ll be writing, I take that same keyboard with me. Sure, it means carrying a keyboard in my backpack, but the combined weight of the iPad and the keyboard still don’t add up to that of a small laptop, to say nothing of the menagerie of cables I’d have to take with me. Plus–and this has been really important–because I’m using the same keyboard, writing feels the same as it does at home, it’s just a smaller screen.

Note-taking and the paperless lifestyle

Getting the iPad finally made my goal of wanting to be paperless a realistic one. Evernote proved to be the perfect tool and service for me to capture anything I wanted without the need for paper. And the iPad provided the platform that made it easy to capture stuff no matter where I was. Even when I don’t have the iPad with me, I certainly have my iPhone and can send notes to Evernote, which in turn will appear on my iPad the next time I open Evernote there.

More than just Evernote, there have been several other apps that have made paper virtually obsolete, even when capturing sketches and handwritten notes.

For sketches, I tend to use Paper. It is a simple and elegant interface that allows me to make drawings of any kind. It is intuitive and works just how you think it will. And I can email my drawings to Evernote so it makes integration easy.

A sketch I made for the Little Man using Paper


For more technical notes and sketches I use Penultimate which provides a few features that Paper doesn’t (like graph paper backgrounds and direct input into Evernote) and lacks a few features that Paper has. But the two together allow me to capture any kind of free-form notes I want.

Notes I took using Penultimate


Of course, both of these apps are easier to use with a stylus, and the one that I obtained was a Bamboo stylus and it has served me perfectly.

I don’t think I’d have been able to go paperless without my iPad.

Traveling with the iPad

I have not taken a laptop with my on any trip I’ve taken since getting my iPad. I’ve traveled to Boston and Newport, Rhode Island and southwestern Florida and have taken only my iPad. It’s been worth it simply because I don’t have to take a laptop out of my bag at airport security. But I also haven’t found anything I can do on my iPad that I can’t do on my laptop. Well, perhaps there are some things, but none of them are things I do with any frequency.

Traveling with the iPad really cuts down on what used to go into my backpack. No laptop. No laptop cables. No extra batteries. No adapters. Also, I don’t have to lug around books or magazines because they are already contained on my iPad. All I take is my iPad, my keyboard, a charger, and some headphones. It has been wonderful.

Entertainment on the iPad

I don’t get much time to play around on the iPad for fun. I’m either reading or writing or doing something with some stated purpose (researching for an interview or story, writing a blog post, etc.) But sometimes, I just need a break and I can turn to my iPad for that as well.

We have Sirius XM satellite radio in our Kia Sorento. When I reupped the free subscription, I added the Internet option so I can listen to 80s on 8 or 70s on 7 wherever I happen to be using the Sirius XM app for the iPad.


I don’t watch much broadcast or cable TV anymore, but every once in a while, I feel like watching a movie or keeping up with the latest episode of Game of Thrones. I can fire up the HBO GO app on my iPad and watch any of hundreds of movies or series episodes. I can be really convenient for when you just want to give your brain a break for an hour or two.

The one thing I don’t have on my iPad are games. I’m not opposed to game and they can be really fun. But I know what a time sync they can be and if there were games on my iPad, I might be in danger of not getting my reading or writing done.

Durability after one year

I’ve been impressed with how tough my iPad is. I don’t have a case that I put it into. I have one of those magnetic screen covers that shuts it off and on automatically, but other than that, it’s just the device. I’d say that my iPad has fallen from table-height, face down onto the floor at least three times since I’ve had it and it seems no worse for the wear.

Then, too, the battery life on the device seems as good as it ever was. Only one time in an entire year did I reach the 20% battery mark. Other than that one time, I’ve never even come close to that, despite fairly constant use of the device. (Granted, I’m pretty good about remembering to charge it overnight when I am not using it.)


From a sheer usage perspective, I’ve probably gotten more mileage out of my iPad in one year than I have in all the other devices I’ve ever owned combined. iPads tend to come with a hefty price tag compared to other tablets, but the iPad has more than paid for itself in terms of the efficiencies it has allowed me to make (going paperless, for instance).

I’ve also heard occasional complaints about the iPad’s weight, but it has not bothered me. Perhaps I’ve just grown used to it.

When the time comes to replace my iPad with a newer model, I would do so without hesitation. Indeed, I am sometimes asked by friends and family why I haven’t already upgraded to an iPad 3. The truth is that my iPad 2 has served me without fail for a year and I don’t see the features added to the iPad 3 as being compelling enough to upgrade when I have a device that already works magnificently for me.


  1. I’m currently switching my Scientific American to PDFs on my kindle app. I got the digital sub about 4 months ago but never sat down at the computer to use it. I wish they had an app, but this is a good substitution!

  2. Good blog post! I bought an iPad (gen 1) for Xmas 2010, thinking it would be used mostly as a toy for the two kids. But it has been amazing and has fit into so many different parts of my life – haven’t made it completely paperless yet, but your post has given me encouragement.


    (P.S. – I think you mean that games are a time “sink”, not a “sync”. And they are, trust me!)

  3. Looks like I got my iPad just a few months before you got yours. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever bought. Definitely an improvement over my iPod Touch writing-wise. (I find that the on-screen keyboard works well for me, though I’d like a Dvorak one.) I never bother with my netbook anymore.

    I’m surprised how much I use it for reading books. I have a Sony Reader that I like better for reading (it’s lighter, and that’s noticeable after a while) but the iPad is faster to load things onto. Plus, I can grab free items from the Kindle or Nook stores very easily.

  4. Thanks for the update! I just found your Going iPad blog posts on Google. I was wondering if you ever tried using a folio or case that would allow you to write with the Apple keyboard and iPad on your lap? And if so, what are your thoughts regarding your experience?

    I tend to write while sitting on the couch or out on my deck, so I’m currently researching some solutions that would let me do that on an iPad (once Scrivener for iPad is released, of course). I’m having some trouble though, because there don’t seem to be many options that are compatible with the Apple wireless keyboard. They all have these netbook-style keyboards that look too small to type comfortably on for hours at a time. Any thoughts?

    Best regards,

  5. Wonderful article. Really like reading these real-life-use scenario pieces.
    You say that there is no compelling reason to upgrade to iPad 3, but let me tell you that the retina screen is reason enough.
    As it’s the screen that’s improved, everything you do with the iPad is so much more crisp, clearer and vivid.


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