I’m testing how well I can stay connected with my online life, with just an iPad. I’m currently on vacation near lake Erie and in this article we’ll see how well the iPad can handle email, working with documents, entertainment, limited access to the internet and making my vacation more fun.
Bad Internet Connection and the iPad
I have no access to wifi and I’m limited to just two bars on at&t’s extended network. That is about as slow as the Internet gets, but I’m still able to watch YouTube videos and function online. This was a major surprise!
It seems that if you use the built in YouTube app, the video automatically degrades based on your Internet connection. This is a great feature in that all other video online takes a considerable amount of time to download.
So I’d say overall the iPad is functional even with the worst access to the Internet.
Best Browser on iPad
I do a lot of crazy things online and the Safari browser just doesn’t cut it. If you require tabbed browsing, and who doesn’t, you absolutely have to get the perfect browser app. I tried 4 other browser apps, and it definitely is the best.
No it doesn’t work with flash sites, but none of them do because Apple will not allow it.
Best iPad Word Processor
After trying a bunch of different word processors, Pages is definitely the best. It is the only one that effectively opens Microsoft Word files, without mangling them. It also provides the best image handling, charts and tables.
It’s one major flaw is in how it handles the saving of files. It allows you to easily email files, but it stinks that I can’t technically save files to Google doc’s or Dropbox. If you want to save the files to the cloud, you are forced to save them on .
When you save your files to , you can send a link to anyone that you want to have access to said file. It is a useable work around, but saving to other cloud systems would be great because you are limited to just 1 Gb on .
Presentations on iPad
As I noted in a previous article, the only reliable presentation tool on the iPad is Keynote. Many of the other office like apps will open presentations, but do not work well for displaying them.
Spreadsheets on iPad
After trying many of the office apps like Documents to Go, Office 2 HD, Quickoffice, and others, I’m sticking with the Numbers app. It is the only app that reliably allows me to open and edit Excel spreadsheets. It’s amazing that these office apps work so poorly. Take my advice and stick with the proprietary Apple apps. You’ll save yourself a lot of money.
Just know that you’ll be stuck saving to , and you can’t save to the Excel format. I know that sucks, but none of the other apps will allow for editing most of the time, so choose your poison.
News Aggregator on iPad
I think Early Edition is without a doubt the best feed aggregator on the iPad. A lot of people like Pulse, but I personally don’t find it pleasing to use. Early Edition on the other hand loads all my feeds quickly and then presents them in a newspaper style format. I wish the articles where longer on Early Edition, but all of the feed readers suffer from this limitation.
I’ve found that I often use other apps that focus on just one news distributor often such as the Huffington Post, Financial Times, USA Today and the New York Post. All of them provide pretty nice apps and it is not a bother to quickly flip from one to the next.
Special Note: definitely check out a newer app called Flipboard. It is great at providing your Facebook, Twitter and feed information in a really cool format. The only problem I have with it, is that you are limited to a very small number of feeds.
Social Networks on iPad
As I just noted, you can read Facebook and Twitter posts of The Flipboard app, but not post to them with it. After playing around with a bunch of social network apps, I’ve found it is best to use Twitterific for Twitter and either the proprietary Facebook app or The Friendly app for Facebook.
Typing on iPad
I probably should have covered this first, but it probably slipped my mind because I have no problem typing on the iPad. Actually with it’s spelling auto correction, I find I can normally type just as fast on the screen as I do with a regular keyboard. Of course if you want, you can buy the iPad specific keyboard, or use a Apple wireless bluetooth keyboard. I however think that option takes away from what makes the iPad great which is portability.
Working on iPad
I design websites for a living, so could I edit my clients sites and perform other common web developer activities with just the iPad? Surprisingly the answer to that question is yes!
I’ll never cease to be amazed by how almost every common activity has it’s own special app. If I want to edit WordPress websites I use both the Perfect Browser or the WordPress app. Don’t buy Blog Press, it is a worthless app, for editting blogs.
If I want to edit a regular site, I use Gusto, which is a great app. Now is Gusto a replacement for Dreamweaver? No, but can I use it to edit files and then upload them effortlessly to the web? Yes!
If you are ever frustrated with the iPad, there is almost definitely an app that will solve almost any issue for next to nothing. For example, while on this trip a client asked if I could write some Python code for them. My answer was, I’m not sure, but after .99 cents and a trip to the app store I had the Code 2 Go app. Not only does it allow me to test Python code, but it provides access to pretty much any other language you can imagine.
So, yes I have had no problem completing even odd work related tasks on just my iPad.
Entertainment on iPad
With the bad Internet connection that I have, I’m pretty much stuck with YouTube for online viewing. Netflix and the ABC app, which are normally great, are unusable here.
I do have access however to the movies and music I downloaded off of iTunes. While I haven’t tried it, I think I’d be waiting forever for a movie download on iTunes, but I downloaded some apps and music with ease.
If you have access to videos on other computers nearby, definitely check out Air Video. It allows you to stream any video from any of your computers to your iPad. This is probably my wife and my favorite app.
My Favorite iPad Games
There are three games that I play all of the time:
Angry Birds: extremely fine game in which you fire birds, slingshot style, at forts that are protecting evil pigs. It’s hard to describe, but fun. Get it.
We Rule: a Farmville knock off that is free and looks much better. A great way to waste 5 minutes.
Bejeweled: me and my wife love to compete with friends online, who also play it.
I would say that if a game gets 4 or more stars it is probably worth getting. The only game I’ve ever downloaded, that fit this rule, that I hated was Flight Ctrl, but who knows, you might love it.
What I Miss on iPad
The only thing that I’ve found I miss is Adobe Illustrator. While there are two drawing apps that people rave about (Brushes & Sketchbook) I just can’t get the hang of them. As I state this, I’ve found it to be a nightmare to use either Photoshop or Illustrator on a sub $400 net book though.
So, I can easily say that I’d take an iPad over a net book any day. I also think it is definitely possible for most people to survive without a laptop.
Well back to vacationing. If you have any questions or comments, leave them below.
Till next time