Blog post

My first few weeks with an iPad

By Andrea Di Maio | June 05, 2010 | 1 Comment

I bought my iPad (wifi only, 64 Gb) when I was in Chicago about a month ago. I also bought the Apple case, but in Albany NY as the Chicago store had run out of them (while the Albany one had run out of iPads…).

I am not an Apple-maniac and I have never used a Mac, nor do I carry an iPhone (but some members of my family do). All I had was an iPod touch, first generation, which I bought because I loved the album view when turning it into landscape mode.

As I found out that the iPad touch has been doing for me many more things than I had ever imagines (from being my favorite device to read tweets to providing tools like a plumb bob or a level), I thought I would use the iPad mostly as a home device, a family version of our iPods and iPhones, and I would take it with me on long trips at most to enjoy videos.

But also this time I was wrong. What the iPad has turned into is a compelling professional device. I use it to take notes during meetings, to show slides to small groups around the table, as well as to do formal presentations (I bought the dongle to connect to VGA projectors). Most of my blog posts are now drafted on the iPad, an so are my research notes. When I find a wifi hotspot I just send those as attachments to my Gartner email, where I import into the relevant tool.

The most pleasant surprise of all has been the touch keyboard. While it can be comfortably used when the iPad is in portrait mode, it becomes truly excellent in landscape mode, and so much so that I do not really see the point of buying an external keyboard (either the specific one from Appla – which works only in portrait mode and with the iPad off its case – or a bluetooth one).

Not having the 3G version (I could not afford the data plan, given that I would be constantly roaming abroad) and rarely having wifi accessible at client sites, I have not tried to browse the Internet to discuss about web sites with clients. I guess it has to be as effective as using presentation material with Keynote (the slide editor available for iPad).

Another use that I had not anticipated (and mentioned in a previous post) was as a notepad while I was moderating a panel in Amsterdam. I had the questions on the iPad and I could read tweets from both the session I was moderating and a parallel one, dealing with a similar topic. So, rather than having one Twitter stream on the screen with the hashtag of that particular session, I could manage which questions to ask panelists based on multiple Twitter feeds.

Of course there are small downsides. Compatibility between Keynote and Powerpoint is  not perfect, in particular when it comes to animations and the use of shapes containing text. While corrections are possible on the iPad, you cannot convert a Keynote presentation back to Powerpoint. Also, even when I have mastered all animations, if I go back one slide, and that slide is an animated slide, Keynote brings me to the beginning of that slide (i.e. before its animation) and not – as it happens in Powerpoint – to the slide after all animations. As a consequence, if you are having a quite interactive discussion and want to go back and forth between slides, it becomes painful as you have to go through all the animations of a slide over and over again. So my advice is not to have any slide animation.

Another downside is the inability to transfer notes or presentations unless there is a wireless connection. Apple could allow iTunes to be used to transfer files of any sort from a PC to the iPad, but it doesn’t.

Nonetheless, this device is impressive. And, for what is worth, this is the first device that my mom, who is 82 and is not at ease with either a cellphone or a remote control, could use with very little explanation.