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Weekend Tech Scan: What's on your iPad? (Here's what's on mine)

The iPad may not be everyone's work machine, but it still dreams bigger than any other tablet on the market.


Skip Ferderber at CES 2012, Las Vegas, writes and files stories for Crosscut, using the small Galaxy Tab, with a BlueTooth wireless keyboard and mouse.

Skip Ferderber at CES 2012, Las Vegas, writes and files stories for Crosscut, using the small Galaxy Tab, with a BlueTooth wireless keyboard and mouse. Skip Ferderber

The iPad and the Samsung Galaxy tablet go head to head.

The iPad and the Samsung Galaxy tablet go head to head. Skip Ferderber

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the contents of my 7-inch Android tablet, and promised to share what’s on my iPad. So now I am.

In case tablets of any sort are still seen by some of you as either faddish or a waste of money, consider the following research from Staples, which has every reason to want to understand the buying and usage habits of its customers.  It recently released the following research about tablet owners: 

The average tablet user spends 90 minutes per day on their tablet. 88.3 percent of tablets are used on the road. 35 percent are used in the bathroom.

The average tablet user spends $34 on tablet apps.

By 2015 there will be 82.1 million tablet users in the United States.

The most common display size for a tablet is 10 inches. There are also 9-inch, 7-inch, and 5-inch displays. 54 percent of tablets owners are 34 and older. 80 percent of tablet users say that tablets have improved their work/life balance. 25 percent of tablet users are using printed books less.

(I demur on detailing my use of a tablet in the bathroom.)

Before getting into my iPad details, you might find it useful to see how I differentiate between the use of my 7-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab and my 10.1-inch original iPad.

The Galaxy Tab is my working tablet, often taking the place of my laptop. It goes everywhere with me: meetings, interviews, out of town trips. I use it for checking email and calendar, news, the occasional Skype chat, communicating with my home computer for files I need. I also depend on the many Internet services provided by Google to keep me synchronized wirelessly with email, changes or additions to my contacts, etc. 

At the recent CES electronics show in Las Vegas, I used it with a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse to write and file stories. My Android tablet is pocket-sized. And I can use a mouse with it. I find my iPad is too large and too heavy for traveling light, and it will not work with a mouse.

If you spend time writing for work or play, do not underestimate the need for a mouse. Having to constantly touch your screen for functions that you generally accomplish with a mouse is tiring and ergonomically stupid. Just adding this one function would have enormously improved the functionality of the iPad. (It’s available only through jail-breaking.) I’ll never understand why the late Steve Jobs banned it.

But the iPad as my leisure device . . . ahhhhh. That’s a very different story.

My iPad lives in my living room. I can disappear into it and enjoy a feast of information, beauty, music, video, and games on a level simply not yet possible on any Android device. It’s not so much Apple technology that makes it better as the iron grasp that Apple has on its ecosystem — the so-called “walled garden”: strict control over developers, hardware, software, delivery to consumers, and installation. And then there’s the sheer size of the Apple-only customer base, and only two formats to worry about: the iPad and the iPhone. 

With 261 apps in my library, mostly iPad-specific, I have some of the world’s most beautifully developed multimedia experiences, be they games, multimedia books developed for the iPad, hybrid learning experiences, etc. While many iPad apps are now available for Android tablets — book readers, Internet radio, productivity suites and a variety of games — many of the iPad exclusives are simply brilliant.

I have large libraries of music, movies, and TV shows. I keep them on my PC computer and wirelessly stream them to my iPad through my home WiFi.  Since my iPad “lives” at home, I see no need to store them on my device. For whatever reason, Apple has not set streaming as one of iTunes's functions, so you need third-party software to do the job.  


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