iPad for Gamers, Consultants and CIOs?

I’ll admit that I’ve been a huge skeptic of the iPad. From my lofty tower of techno-ego, I scoffed at the latest innovation from Apple. It seemed a step back or even a stumble from the great leap of progress that was the iPhone. As many blogs and reviews indicated, what the iPad did NOT do seemed more striking then what it did. No multi-tasking, no flash, no Silverlight, no CD/DVD drive, no significant HD capacity, no web cam, no Skype, no printing/scanning…just a larger iPod Touch that can browse the web, entertain with clever apps and provide Kindle-like experiences for the masses.  Not good for an ultra-power user/developer/consultant like myself however.

That is until I bought one for my wife on our anniversary. Actually, the real catalyst was watching a CIO of a client I currently work for enthusiastically buying a few for his company. As I preloaded the iPad with all the applications and tweaks I know my wife would love, I started to experiment with possible mashups that would help me with work and play.  Soon I was installing all manner of geek and productivity apps trying to find the pessimistic boundaries my preconceived notions had so confidently predicted. 

What I did find was amazing.  I was just blown away at how it boldly challenges you to think beyond the time-proven keyboard and mouse for productivity. How it makes getting at the information I need not only faster but more interesting and entertaining via a jaw-dropping presentation. It really makes some of the bleeding-edge interactive web sites out there look archaic and old-hat. The applications themselves are feature rich due to their fat-client integration and obvious liberation from HTTP/HTML. This adds an element of entertainment and appreciation for the aesthetics that are nigh-impossible with the web.  In my opinion, web apps have just as much to fear from the advent of the iPad as that of laptops.  This could definitely mean a revival of fat-client development like that of the 90’s but with dynamic web service backends. 

So rather than try to document what I’ve discovered empirically and that only after a few days of use, I’ll present a challenge for the Casual User, Consultant and CIO.

For the casual user (facebook user, tweeter, gamer, just news article reader), you merely have to give it a try. For you, I recommend the following applications:

  • Flipboard
  • Fluent News
  • USA Today
  • NPR
  • Loopt Pulse (local restaurants and events)
  • Epicurious (recipes)
  • Kindle or iBook
  • Free Wi-Fi Finder
  • The Weather Channel
  • WikiPanion
  • ABC Player
  • Netflix – yes, you can stream Netflix to your iPad
  • Pandora
  • NASA App HD
  • World Atlas HD
  • Splashtop – requires iPad and computer install

USA Today and Flipboard in particular have managed to make web news more discoverable while maintaining a traditional newspaper article feel that we all grew up with. You’ll undoubtedly be charmed by this nostalgic mix of magazine format along with the interactive videos sprinkled throughout. The presentation is just amazing and would be very difficult/rare/expensive to replicate on the web.

Also notice I included “Splashtop”. With this little app, you can stream flash, Silverlight, video and audio from any computer via a remote desktop interface. That means you could also play World of Warcraft (casually) or watch a DVD on your iPad if you’re on the same network as your beefy remote gaming machine. The iPad puts out far less heat and is obviously less bulky than both laptops and netbooks.  There may or may not be some lag here depending on your wireless network.  Invest in the Wireless N capabilities to optimize.

For the consultant, I’d recommend only the following applications:

  • Desktop Connect
  • Air Display – requires iPad and computer install
  • Documents to Go
  • SharePlus Office Mobile Client – SharePoint 2007/2010 synchronizer for iPad

Imagine going to a client brief with only your sleek iPad. You give your presentation using a PowerPoint you created on your laptop but synched with Documents to Go or SharePlus. You also use this app to display your presentation throughout an iPad-to-VGA connector. Part of your presentation is over configuration, so you remote into a demo server via Desktop Connect. Using your iPad features, you’re able to zoom into various aspects of the desktop by mere finger gestures. Bring a blue tooth keyboard if you’d like. The presentation was so successful that more requirements emerged with you quickly took down using Word or your favorite notes utility. You synch the notes back to your laptop and then go back to the cramped little cube the client provided you. Rather than ask for a much needed dual display, you use “Air Display” to wirelessly extend your laptop desktop onto your iPad. Additionally, with SharePlus Office Mobile Client, you can readily synch and search document libraries and lists from your iPad – online as well as offline.

For the CIO, I leave you with one thought that occurred to me during this brief experiment – anticipatory problem solving. As part of my consulting firm, we’re encouraged to keep up on blogs, twitter and other sources for the latest in the ever changing landscape of technology. Often we’ll find solutions way before we hit the problem which dramatically enhances our problem solving and productivity. I assert that the company which figures out how to encourage their employees to consistently do this AND provides them the most efficient tools to do so, will have a significant edge when grappling with the dynamic arenas like information technology, R&D, Sales and Marketing and etc.

Other tid-bits I found useful:

  • The iPad will not charge from USB 2.0 with the screen on.  With it off, you might get 60% off of 8 hours.  It requires 10W for the charge so plan to plug it into the wall.
  • Wireless N is supported.
  • When choosing the case, you might want to start with the cheap apple black case.  It’s the thinnest and provides some very useful configurations.  The Apple reps say it’s the most popular despite being the standard.
  • Don’t feel you have to buy the blue-tooth keyboard.  Try to use the onscreen key board.  It’s a decent match for home row in my opinion.
  • Bluetooth is supported so wireless headsets are nice.

So for the next month, the challenge to myself will be putting my money where my mouth is. I will attempt to eat my own dog food and rely significantly on my iPad for my day-to-day consultant gigs. I’ll write a follow-up blog in one month with my findings.  Of course I’ll have to wait until mine arrives in the mail. My wife has banned me from even looking at hers.

Btw – I did a ton of research on finding the best Wi-Fi Hotspot solution here.  May be worth the read if you want to save some bucks.


~ by spninjablog on September 27, 2010.

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