iThink iLike iPad
Added on: 06.10.10, by Todd Knapp
The title on my business card reads CEO/CTO. The CTO part is my favorite (Chief Technology Officer). I define the CTO role to mean that I am responsible for investigating new technologies and identifying their potential value to my customer base.
In order to do that, you have to question what you think you know; challenge your own preconceptions. You can’t take anything for granted, and you can only rely on vendor information and/or industry opinion to a point.
The Mac vs. PC debate began, in force, when I was just a little technology consultant to-be. Despite its age, the argument is still very much alive. Each side jabs at the other with marketing campaigns and rhetoric.
Even more so, the users themselves (us) are as divided as the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s. Mac users are most often evangelical about their platform, and PC users have a holier than thou sense of empowerment that is amplified by the fact that the computing world is predominantly PC.
As for me, I am a PC user. However, I am a believer in the right tool for the right job. I do think that Mac has its place in the technology landscape. I just think that place is with home users. As a business platform, Mac has never risen to the challenge.
Then came the iPad; Apple’s attempt to undermine the laptop’s position as mobile compute platform of choice.
They introduced it with much fanfare. Clearly, the marketing campaigns still cater to the chic home user, the gadget guys, and the artistic community. However, there is a definite “business application” underpinning to the ads.
Apple has taken some steps to provide integration to MS Exchange (the dominant mail server in the business community), as well as offering better access to common “PC” file formats like those in the Microsoft Office suite. However, they still want to “rule with an iron fist” when it comes to which apps can be installed, and which technologies will be supported (bye, bye flash video and open source applications).
In the end, there were several reasons that I felt it was time to re-examine Apple as a business solution:
- The iPad is super light and portable.
- It has over a 10 hour battery life (which I can personally attest to).
- It has a superior screen quality (although that comes with a lot of glare which can be irritating).
- I think the size is just large enough to make using it easy for most.
So, I sent my team into the world to procure one for testing, and I sat at my desk working away at a furious pace so that I would have time to play when it arrived.
And arrive it did.
My first impression was that it was harder to type on than I had expected, however, after I got used to it that was no longer a concern. Still, out of the box, I would have to say that the device is largely useless.
Yes, it can surf the web really nicely, and yes, the email integration with Exchange is really nice. However, neither of those things really makes it a business tool. There are a TON of games in the app store, and there are a Ton of little graphical applications too. However, again, not a huge business benefit.It took a couple of days messing around with it to really get it dialed in. Here is where I am today:
- From my iPad I can access my VMware virtual PC back at the office over a VPN. Now my iPad runs Windows7 and is attached to my network. Anything I can do on my PC I can now do remotely through my iPad.
- I have added apps that allow it to talk directly to network file shares, so I can access files on my servers.
- I have added apps that are specific to the news sources that I use regularly.
- I have added some personal apps. In the summer I live on a boat, so I have added apps that track tides, and get maritime weather reports. Additionally, I saved a LOT of weight in my travel bag by ditching my portable DVD player in favor of Netflix streaming movies.
- I have added some travel apps that are nice when I am looking for flight updates.
- I have added apps that link to my Sales Management software and my accounting package.
- Finally, I have also setup all the mail and scheduling integration.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Is the iPad a replacement for my small portable laptop? NO WAY! However, after using the iPad I am now a McCoy that is willing to invite a Hatfield over for a BBQ. If I am on the go, it is lighter, easier to use for my mobility apps, and has a way longer battery life than my laptop.
It’s a great companion device
From now on, I will be checking my laptop in my luggage and traveling with my iPad. I may even stop lugging the laptop with me to meetings (unless I have to do a presentation or take copious notes).
Like I said, it’s all about the right tool for the right job. As long as you aren’t looking for a silver bullet, you will most likely get some use from the iPad.