I've had the iPad about 30 days, as per the usual iPad fangirl rant, it's changed my life blah-blah-blah. Future posts will be about specific applications and uses by group; this post is going to try to stick to the device itself.
Let me start by saying that I was well prepared to take the most advantage of my iPad. Before it arrived, I was almost entirely on cloud computing and paperless. Mainly this was accomplished using Evernote (previous post). It doesn't matter if it's my computer, my Blackberry, my iPad or some random computer down the street, I can get my stuff. If any of these items are destroyed, I lose nothing.
After it arrived, I found that my laptop computer is now useful for exactly three things: large scale management of my cloud, large scale research (I use OneNote to organize research papers), and photo editing and management. My bags were all too big (meant to drag along the laptop) or too small (meant to just have my Blackberry). I take the iPad with me everywhere.
I've also gotten out my camera again. I'm not a scrapbooker. You load electronic photos into Flickr and then what? You put them into Facebook and they disappear into Facebook history. Now there is the beautiful way to have your photos with you, look at them, show them to other people. I realized that despite being so happy over electronic photography, I haven't been looking at my pictures for about 10 years. Pictures are fun again.
The iPad post last week was about not getting it, and the question about "isn't a netbook the same thing?" is about not getting it. Have you ever seen someone point to their screen when they are talking about their computer? I do that, and I can't get myself to stop. The experiential input is the thing. Well, on an iPad the thing is the thing; people have called it the invisible device. You don't curl a netbook into your arms like a book. It is a thing that is kept apart from you; a tablet is not. I think we will find that this changes how people experience the information they are interacting with.
Clicking a mouse is very different from actually touching the thing you are interacting with directly. Additionally, once you pop open a netbook you've created a wall between yourself and other people. The more social and interactive you want a group to be, the more of a burden that is. So if you are using your iPad as, for example, to replace a paper dictionary in secondary language conversation or to replace a paper book in a book group, it beats a netbook. If you want to show anyone anything on the screen in a situation that isn't the office, it beats a netbook. It is not a fancy netbook.
Okay, accessories. The Griffin loop (pictured above) is bizarrely overpriced and also insanely perfect. Tried a stylus and it wasn't useful. For a cover, right now I'm using a smart cover and a Skinit (other brands have matching screen backgrounds). Of course I put on a screen protector as well. I don't carry the loop around, so the smartcover is useful in coffee shops, etc. I generally leave the smartcover in my purse and the ipad goes around the house naked. I got a netbook cover (sort of like this) and drop the iPad inside of that when it's in a bigger computer bag. I've learned my lesson about buying beatiful sleek things and then putting them in huge cases to protect the beautiful sleekness which can not be enjoyed. There are a few book-style cases which I admire, but haven't actually put my hands on: BookBook, Octavio, DoDo(the DoDo has a few bad reviews floating around the internet regarding how it grips, or sometimes doesn't, the iPad).
I got the largest memory with the Verizon 3G. After being burned in the laptop development surge, my mantra has been the most memory possible all the time, but the cloud has probably made that an outdated idea. If I had had the smallest memory, I would have had to give up having my entire TV show collection with me at all times, but it would have been okay.
The 3G I wasn't sure I would need, and there were evaluations that the microphone quality on the 3G devices was not as good. I use Facetime a lot, and I'm perfectly happy with the microphone quality. The 3G turned out to be essential to making this an always-available cloud-based device. I'm not watching movies or streaming music over the 3G, just accessing documents and the internet, so I don't get anywhere near then Verizon entry tier use limit at $20/month. The iPad can interfere with the network connections of neighboring devices through a couple of routes and I've had a couple of these problems. I won't get into the details, but if you have this problem try turning off your iPad internet connections for 15 minutes and move it away from your other devices and then seek more information on your particular issue.
The specific apps I have selected will be covered in subject groups over this series of posts, but the main thing I am looking for in an app is cloud support. The idea is that if my iPad is run over by a truck, stolen, whatever, it should not matter to my data one bit. Everything should be backed up wirelessly as I am working on it. You don't need an iPad to be moving into that world: I certainly encourage everyone to be looking at how they can get their data off of their hardware and into cloud solutions.