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Six Months into the iPad Experience

The hype for the iPad was almost too much to handle.  The rumors about its shape, operating system and practicality all contributed to a masterful job on the part of Apple.  Even its name was a surprise until it debuted with the help of uber-magician Steve Jobs.

You just wanted one!

Imagine a major computing company staking part of its future on a product that didn't seem to have a niche market of competitors.  If you're Jobs, who has the guts of a burglar, you simply smile.  To call the iPad a success would be an understatement as it sold 300,000 on the first day alone.  Since then, it has dominated the tablet market to the tune of nearly 8 million sold since then.  8 million units sold to the tune of between $499-$829.  That's a lot of dough.

When I was issued an iPad by work, I had mixed feelings.  Like Michael Hyatt of Thomas Nelson Publishers, (read An Elegant Solution in Search of a Problem) I liked the device but found it totally  different from my omnipresent iPhone.  The iPhone changed my life (not even remotely kidding) but the iPad felt somehow unnecessary.  It was supposed to be about "media consumption" rather than content creation.  Now, after six months, let's evaluate what I call the "iPad Experience".  Has it lived up to the hype? Read on to find out.

Core Functions

Unlike the iPhone which allows you to do virtually anything from Skype to text to ... well, about anything that 200,000 apps allow you to, the iPad is based on what I describe as core functions.  I use it to manage my calendar, to listen to podcasts and to stay up with the news.  That's it.  I don't use it to take notes (impractical) and my ADD is too strong to only use it to read books.  I'm sure others use their iPads differently but it's important to settle in on whatever core functions are important for you.

Multitasking

The iOS 4.2 update with multitasking was very significant for me and meant that the iPad was faster, more usable and constituted a more iPhone-like experience.  The keep a download going while I do something else or listen to Pandora sounds like a small detail but the 4.2 upgrade made the iPad a more luxurious (and practical) device.

Apps Worth a Try

There are so many app reviews on the internet so I won't go into the benefits of the following, but here are my top seven:

OmniFocus: sure it's expensive but really, one try will convince you to manage your To-Do's with OmniFocus.

Twitter: free and user-friendly.

iBooks: incredible syncing with iPhone version; a fun way to read ebooks.

Ambience: terrific sounds app with audio from nature and various spots around the world.

Informant HD: like the iPhone version only larger and more useful; beautiful calendar manager.

DropBox: free app with spectacular syncing across platforms; useful for cloud document storage.

Keynote: I use this in my classroom to walk around the room with my class notes.

Honorable Mention: Nozbe is almost there as a solid To-Do manager.  Looking forward to future versions with bigger buttons.

iBooks

iBooks is a clever app that allows ebooks to be shared across your iPad / iPhone platforms.  I've read several ebooks and while the iPad feels a bit heavy, the cross-platform usage makes up for it.  Can't wait to see how future iPads improve on this app.

Commuting with the iPad

A big part of my life is my commute to and from work. Rather than waste the time, I listen to podcasts and audio books.  The iPad is perfect for this as it allows a larger screen for video content and a simple way to organize my podcasts for each week.  I create a new playlist each week with the casts that I want to hear.  (e.g. Week of December 27)

Portability

There's nothing like lying on the couch and puttering  around on the iPad.  You can't do this with as much ease on a laptop.  The iPad shines when you need to surf the net and want to relax in the process.

Conclusion

While I had a slow start with my iPad, I recently had to go a few days without it.  I really missed it and found my MacBookPro somewhat bulky in its absence.  I love my iPad and even though it's not perfect, it's elegant and fun. The more you use it, the better your productivity will be.

What's your iPad experience been in comparison to mine?

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