iPad adventures, day one

I actually received my iPad last week, but today is the first day I began what I am thinking of as the Great iPad Experiment: leaving my laptop asleep at home, and trying to do my daily academic work off of this remarkable little piece of machinery. I intend to post some reflections on how things are going every day or two.

At the moment I am typing on one of Apple's little Bluetooth keyboards, which I unpacked today and synched to my iPad in about three seconds (and the keyboard even comes with batteries included, which is excellent -- works right out of the box, literally). The iPad is lodged in an iPad dock on my desk, and the keyboard is on my lap; I have music playing through my computer speakers, which are plugged into the dock. (Note to readers: volume level on the iPad dock is line level, not headphone level, so if you have your speakers turned up far when you plug in the iPad it's very loud at first!) The Apple dock only supports the iPad in portrait mode, so the text as I type here is kind of small; the upside is that I'm a lot faster inputing text this way than I was with the on-screen keyboard. That said, the on-screen keyboard was more than sufficient for me to enter comments on the papers I was grading this weekend using the iPad; the external keyboard simply allows more flexibility in seating positions.

[Just as an experiment I turned the iPad sideways into Portrait mode and liked the text size much better. So, note for the to-do list: investigate an iPad dock that allows portrait orientation while the iPad is docked.]

The major issues I have observed so far with the iPad are the lack of footnote support for documents, and the inconvenience of having to reach for the screen to make edits (since there's no mouse or pointer). I think that the solution to the latter problem is to only use the external keyboard for entering massive amounts of text -- say, taking notes at a meeting -- and then proofread later; otherwise, the on-screen keyboard seems to work best. But the former issue is a real downer, especially for an academic. Apple has used its "quick view " technology to translate Word documents for iPad viewing, even if you open them in the app version of Pages, so no footnotes period unless you view them in a pdf. For the time being I have converted things that I want to read in the iPad to pdf, which works fine, but when someone sends me something as a Word document I can't really just read it on the iPad natively. Of course, if everyone sent things in pdf this wouldn't be so much of an issue, but there's a lot of common practice to overcome before that would stop happening.

Haven't signed up for a data plan yet. Wonder how long before the temptation to do so -- or the periodic reminders to do so that crop up on the screen -- gets the better of my determination to use as much free wi-fi as possible rather than paying for connectivity.

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