How ‘Just a Big iPod’ Changed Our Computing Lives!

How 'Just a Big iPod' Changed Our Computing Lives!

For the second time in two days I was giving a technical talk: one at night in a public setting, the other to a project team at work. In both cases I needed to note some questions, discussions, take contact info and jot down some ‘to do’ tasks and follow ups. It was only when someone said something in each case that I even realized – all I brought with me was my iPad.

It has been nearly 8 months since the release of the iPad, and I cannot imagine going anywhere without it. Through numerous discussions I know that many of the other Gear Diary folks feel the same way, so I wanted to get everyone together and ask the question:

How has the iPad changed your computing life?

Michael Anderson
I have been primarily a laptop user since getting a Powerbook 170 and ThinkPad 700C back in 1991/2, and have also been a heavy PDA user since I fell in love with the HP95LX in 1988 … but while I have always been a fan of mobile technology I really had no idea how the iPad would fit into things. I was very happy with my netbook – multiple hours of battery, basic PC usage and loads of games.

Some observations:

* The iPad has killed my PDA usage. The Droid did to an extent, but my PDAs always had an advantage in terms of keyboards, capabilities, etc. Not with the iPad!
* iPad as eReader: I have touted of reading books on PDA since the HP200LX. But once I used the various ebook apps on the iPad, it changed everything.
* The iPad killed the netbook for me. Not totally, as I have moved all gaming to my Alienware m11x, which relegated the netbook to classic gaming only … but since getting the iPad I have transitioned completely away from the netbook.
* With the keyboard dock and Docs2Go I am all set for all set for general office stuff, and with Safari and Mail, I have everything I need!

I was nervous at the first board meeting when I only brought the iPad, but by the end I was thrilled and never looked back. I take the iPad everywhere – I use iThoughts HD for ‘mind mapping’, which integrates with MindManager; Pocket Informant, and more!

I have actually lightened my load considerably when traveling home or between offices during the day. At this point I have transitioned to carrying only my iPad, Livescribe Pulse, a USB flash drive, and Droid around with me. And I have moved from the large Livescribe notebooks to the smaller ones, saving me even more space!

Having recently gotten a new iPod Touch, I am drooling at the upcoming iOS 4.2 for iPad. Take the existing system, add folders and multitasking … and I will be even more thrilled!

Dan Cohen
It’s funny. We started this thread a while back and, at the time, my answer was “the iPad has changed my computing life in so many ways.”. Here we are a fair bit later and that has only become more of the case. The iPad is impressive first and foremost because it is a first-generation device that was amazing right out of the gate. Sure there are things like a camera for video missing but the device itself is nothing short or remarkable. Moreover, I have been running iOS 4.2 Beta for weeks now and that upgrade turns the iPad into an entirely different device. The fast-app switching alone makes a huge difference in day-to-day use.

So how has the iPad changed my computing life?  Here are a few examples:

  • The iPad is my reading device. Period. I read eBooks, magazines… and everything else. I now have my staff send me electronic copies of everything because, quite honestly, I don’t want to hassle with paper. In fact, I have slowly been scanning in many of my notebooks and storing them in Dropbox so they are accessible on the iPad.
  • I rarely carry a notebook with me any longer. I got the MBA because I have a good bit of traveling coming up and there are some things, like posting, that are just that much easier on a notebook.
  • It is my meeting device. When I am in a meeting I use it to read the presentation’s I need to give. And when I want to share something with the group it turns into a whiteboard if there is a TV or monitor around.
  • It has become my TV more often than I ever expected thanks to Hulu Plus, my music player and my gaming device.
  • It has even become my speakerphone when I am working at home or in the office thanks to the Ooma app.
  • Then there is the article Carly wrote about how it has made its way into my rabbinic work. But that is a story unto itself.In other words, “Just a big iPod” has become “Just about everything” in ways i never expected.Judie Lipsett Stanford
    Random thoughts: I have been to two tech related conferences since getting my iPad — the NetShelter Summit in San Francisco and the ETS Lindgren Tech Day in Cedar Park — and both times all I brought was my iPad to each meeting. It is the best tool I have ever had for just about everything I need to do when trying to take notes and prepare posts, but for one thing …In a perfect world, the iPad would have a built-in camera and I would be able to photograph and post directly from it. You have no idea what that would mean to me for on the fly blogging with one less thing to carry. At least there is an SD attachment to allow photo uploading from my one camera that uses an SD; that is a help!

    I love reading books on it; my Amazon book list has continued to grow, but I love that I can also read my old eReader books on there as well. Zinio has allowed me to just about replace all of my dead-tree magazine subscriptions, with the exception of a few who need to get with the times (cough … cough Skeptic Magazine!). In a perfect world the iPad might be a little bit thinner or at least a little bit lighter, but it’s certainly not too heavy or too big for my purposes.

    The thing that blows my mind about the iPad is how almost everyone who sees one, who really gets a chance to use one, loves the thing. My husband has one, my mother even has one … and they both use the heck out of them, but in a totally different way than any of us use ours. The iPad is a totally customizable device that can be personalized for every user.

    I know the iPad is only going to continue to improve and become more functional. I honestly can’t imagine not having it along … anywhere!

    Jason Reese
    I just got back from deploying an ‘enterprise’ iPad solution to our Board of Directors in NY. To say the iPad has taken corporate users by storm is an understatement. The larger screen size meant that developers didn’t have to worry as much about trying to ‘mobilize’ the data that executives want. Instead of hefting around large binders of information prior to a Board of Director meeting, they now just use their iPads to securely log into a restricted SaaS web portal, and are able to view and annotate documents on the screen.

    Then there’s the ripple effect. Now, everyone wants an iPad to do the same — and leave those ‘heavy’ laptops (or even netbooks) at their desk while they attend meetings or travel. That, in turn, has driven up demand for business apps to make the iPad even more of a regular work tool than it is already.

    Add in iOS 4.2, and you’ve just thrown multitasking and wireless printing straight into the mix. Our Board — and our CIO — are loving the iPad. And that means everyone else is loving it internally 😉

    Finally loaded 4.2 on iPad yesterday since our team is on the enterprise dev program. No big ‘news’ that you don’t know…multitasking’s there, folders (for Doug:) and the printing are all there. Gave up my iPhone and am using iPad as my only Apple device, besides an MPB.

    Doug Moran
    I haven’t really had it long enough to say how it has changed my computing life, but I do know a few things:

  • PvZ is ‘way more fun on it.
  • I much prefer reading books on the iPad to the iPhone, even though it’s less “portable” in an absolute sense—after all, you can tuck your iPhone in your pocket. But having all that text on one virtual page is a different experience.
  • Took it to a meeting and used it with my BT keyboard to take notes—much easier than trying to undock my T-61, and then re-dock it. 1 time out of four, re-docking screws things up. With an iPad, no worries.
  • Makes HiDef make sense. Didn’t see the point in HiDef on my iPhone; on the iPad, the difference is (literally and virtually) huge.
  • Some apps work better on the iPad than on the Web, Twitter being one. Also IM+.
  • Using it for movie/TV viewing on the plane (with the Compass stand) was every bit the delight I had been hoping for. So rare when the reality matches the wish—this was one of those times.I find myself using my iPhone way less. If I could txt from the iPad, I could probably replace my iPhone with some dumb phone. You know; one that just makes phone calls?

I might add that the combination of Netflix streaming and the iPad is uhMAZing. I think our queue is up around 200 now—I can’t believe I’ve watched so many movies in my life.

In this vein:

Magazines. I haven’t signed up for any yet, but I’ve come close—and no doubt will do it in the future. And this is actually a pretty big deal, because I pretty much stopped reading magazines a decade ago and just read stuff on the Web. If magazines can make the transition smoothly—and there are definitely going to be some mags that lend themselves to iPad reading ‘way more than others—the magazine market might stop shrinking. Ditto the newspaper industry, but not to the same degree—I envision us ending up more like other countries, where there’s one (or two or three) national virtual newspapers, and then a whole slew of local papers that basically ignore national news and only do local stuff. I’d pay for the app; I’d pay for a subscription.

I’m also considering reading comic books again, which I have done for more than two decades (with a few very rare exceptions, such as Mark Millar’s “Wanted”). How many geek adults might do the same thing?

Chris Gavula
I have been working with my iPad for a number of months now and I’m amazed how much it has changed the way I do my computing. Like Doug said, I use the data features of my iPhone less than before, but more importantly, I use my laptop somewhat less than before, but I haven’t abandoned my laptop either.

I find web browsing on the iPad generally easier and more satisfying than on the computer. Why? Pinch/Zoom. The ability to quickly, and intuitively zoom in on areas and pictures that might initially be difficult to see or read clearly has been wonderful. The fact that I can quickly easily check eMail or the status of things on a given website just before I go to bed, without having to haul out the laptop is wonderful. All that said – I have at least one website I visit that utilizes flash (although they could easily have done something different). I wish that Apple had allowed Flash – even if it is doggy and badly implemented. Many sites are converting away from it, but many are not yet doing so. It will be interesting to see where all this ends – especially now that Apple has relented on the “no conversion from Flash” apps rule, but I wish they’d resolve all this more quickly!

I guess the larger point is that I often use my iPad in situations where I might want to use a laptop or desktop but it just isn’t convenient. But the iPad is VERY convenient. I think this is the biggest change in the way we compute that I see happening in my own life.

Another area in which my iPad has become a daily staple is in eBook reading. Some people have expressed an opinion that the iPad is too heavy for long-term eBook reading. While I feel the iPad is solid, and is likely to lose weight as subsequent versions come out, I do not find the unit to be too heavy at all. To me it just feels solid and durable. I have many of my Cisco technical books and language study on it and they are MUCH lighter to carry this way. I primarily use the Kindle app and the iBooks app for eBook reading. I have considered a Kindle device in the past, but it’s lack of backlighting and color have made it pretty much a non-starter for me. I have too much material that is more functional in color and I read far more in low-light situations than bright light situations. For these reason, as well as being able to access nearly any eBook source I want, the iPad is nearly an ideal eBook reader for me. Amazon has the best eBook store with the greatest depth though!

Gaming is another area I really have found the iPad to be a pleasure. The aforementioned “Plants vs. Zombies” is great on the iPad. I also prefer time-management or strategy type games (like the Sims, or Civilization) to action-based games so, for me, the iPad is preferable to devices like the Nintendo DS or the PSP where a control pad is present. The iPad (and iPhone/iPod Touch) don’t lend themselves well to action, platform, or fighting type games so it may not appeal to young guys who tend to prefer these types of game, but for me that’s almost a non event.

I also appreciate the USB/card adapters, but I do wish they’d go ahead and incorporate it into the device. I’d also like to see a camera in it.

So the iPad has definitely changed how I go about my computing. I can’t completely abandon my laptop (it is a secure unit utilizing technologies not available on the iPad yet), but other than my work-specific requirements, I find myself turning to the device more and more and using it in situations where I would have “waited” to perform computing tasks before. It fits in nicely between my laptop and my iPhone (a netbook was never a reasonable option for me – too many compromises). It goes almost everywhere with me and has significantly changed how I go about my daily computing tasks. People ask me about it all the time (it’s still a novelty to many people). When I’m in an Apple store it’s the iPad area that always seems to have the most activity. Yes, the novelty will wear off and yes the market will saturate, but it is amazing to me that people are paying a premium price for this device and it’s conveniences, but I definitely understand why too!

So there you have some ways that the iPad has changed the ways we go about our daily lives. Many of us have others in our lives touched by the iPad as well. Over Thanksgiving my brother-in-law traveled with just the iPad, and was able to do pretty much everything with it, except for one site that had some Flash he needed my laptop to navigate.

iOS 4.2 has recently arrived, and aside from the debate on the rotation lock, it seems that everyone is completely enamored by the changes, as they make the iPad even more useful and autonomous.

So, how has the iPad changed the way YOU do things? Let us know in the comments!

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About the Author

Michael Anderson
I have loved technology for as long as I can remember - and have been a computer gamer since the PDP-10! Mobile Technology has played a major role in my life - I have used an electronic companion since the HP95LX more than 20 years ago, and have been a 'Laptop First' person since my Compaq LTE Lite 3/20 and Powerbook 170 back in 1991! As an avid gamer and gadget-junkie I was constantly asked for my opinions on new technology, which led to writing small blurbs ... and eventually becoming a reviewer many years ago. My family is my biggest priority in life, and they alternate between loving and tolerating my gaming and gadget hobbies ... but ultimately benefits from the addition of technology to our lives!

11 Comments on "How ‘Just a Big iPod’ Changed Our Computing Lives!"

  1. I couldn’t agree more with Dan about how the fast “multitask” app switching capability available with iOS 4.x has made this almost a different device. Now if only I could do GD posts with it easily . . .

    One thing I’ve noticed that’s kind of funny: on my desktop, I have a laptop (attached to a dual-monitor system), my iPad and my iPhone on a stand-up tray, my BT keyboard (for the iDevices) and my regular wired keyboard for the laptop. When I’ve been working on the iPad for a bit and go back to the laptop, I end up poking one of my dual-screens to try to do stuff. It definitely amuses the folks here at work.

  2. RT @geardiarysite: How 'Just a Big iPod' Changed Our Computing Lives!

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  6. I used to use an iPod Touch as my primary e-reader and web browser when away from a computer (or when I’m not willing to sit at a desk). No longer. The large screen makes ALL the difference in the world to me – it’s not as pocketable, but it’s much more readable.

    Plus it plays games, videos, and so forth. But being able to read or browse the Net from almost anywhere, and not just sitting upright with a laptop or netbook… it’s a big iPod Touch, but it’s much better for being so.

  7. How 'Just a Big iPod' Changed Our Computing Lives! (via @geardiary)

  8. How ‘Just a Big iPod’ Changed Our Computing Lives!

  9. Great article. I may just have to break down and get one. 🙂 When my Dad visited us a few weeks ago he brought his with him and it was really incredible all the things it could do. The great screen real estate made his computing life much easier (and me more covetous).

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  11. I have an iPad and use it everyday, but I just received my HP Slate 500 today and I think I might be selling my iPad and I just purchased a $250 vaja case for it. Ouch! I love the iPad for what it can offer, which is content consumption. But after using my Slate for a few hours today I realize that I can be more productive than I ever could with the iPad. Being a long time tablet pc user I am now able to ink with a full fledged digitizer with pressure sensitivity and a wonderful capacitive, multi-touch display. Pinch and zoom is a little slow on the Slate and doesn’t come close to the buttery feel of the iPad, but I need to get work done during the day in Office 2010 and I also utilize many flash sites so the Slate hits the spot. Could it use a bigger processor? Of course, but for what I will be using it for it is fast enough. I can also watch HD YouTube without a stutter. Having the webcam is nice too. I know that the HP Slate won’t come close to matching the iPad in sales, but I wouldn’t write off this little tablet just yet.

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