Make your tablet work for its keep.
Just how productive is a tablet, anyway? That's the question businesses and people all around the world are asking themselves right now. This device category is so new, so untapped, that we're only now starting to suss out just what tasks it does best. People are still learning the best ways to integrate tablets into their lives.
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It's been nearly two months since I purchased my iPad 2. In that time I've used it mainly as a 'work' device, researching (and writing) articles for both Cracked and I4U. Here are five tips I've found for developing content on the iPad 2.
1. Notes is the Bomb. There are a lot of great note apps out there- Evernote is especially nice. But, time and time again, I find myself coming back to the fantastic Notes app that comes installed on every iPad. It doesn't have any bells and whistles- but that makes it perfectly intuitive to use.
When researching an article, I'll copy/paste URLs of pertinent sources and paste in striking sections of text, along with my immediate feelings on what I read. The app automatically emails you a copy of your document whenever you exit the app. It doesn't show up in your inbox, but a simple search for the note's title should summon it.
Me, researching a potential Cracked article.
2. Use The Camera.
I'm a History Major, so I end up assigned to read ancient texts on a pretty regular basis. Most of these can be found online, thanks to the wonder of public domain. I like to open one up in my browser, take screenshots of each page, and then open the shots in an image-editing program like Photogene. Now I'm free to highlight or take notes on my assignment as I'm reading it.
3. Copy / Paste is Your Friend.
I often use data from several different sources when putting together a story. It's a pain to switch between three browser windows and Notes. Which is why I like to copy and paste the pertinent bits of each article into my Note. Now I have my source material and my article in the same pane. It isn't pretty, but it works.
4. Magnetic Mics are So Effin Cool.
My iPad 2 is cooler than your iPad 2, because mine has magical ears. It turns out the Edutige Boundary Microphone I received earlier in the year has a magnetic butt. That just happens to stick to the iPad 2.
It works perfectly for sitting in a lecture hall or at a press conference. You can take notes and browse and snap photos, all while your boundary mic records everything for later perusal. I recommend Evernote for this.
5. Know When- and when NOT- to Use Your Case.
With an expensive piece of technology like the iPad 2, it's easy to convince yourself that a protective case is a constant necessity. I tend to take a more liberal attitude. A hard case adds a good deal of weight to the tablet, which means your arm gets tired faster. The smartcover is annoying to hold when you've got it flipped around on the back of the tablet. It overlaps the side significantly and isn't at all comfortable.
The smartcover gets used when my iPad is spending time in a backpack or car. It protects the display, and it's easy enough to remove while the tablet is in use. Notebook cases are wonderful for sitting at a desk or a table and taking notes. But they aren't comfortable for lean-back reading at all. The paper pad swings back and forth and the added surface area makes holding it one-handed rather awkward.
Closing Thoughts: The iPad 2 is absolutely the best research device I have ever used. Whether it's replacing a textbook or a laptop, the iPad 2 does a far better job with a far more convenient form-factor. I've never had trouble getting through a long brainstorming session at a coffee house or an 8-hour school day, and I've never had it crash on me when I needed it.
This is the most optimistic I've felt about the future of technology in quite a while. The iPad 2 is a fun way to gather information quickly and effectively. And you can use it with equal comfort in a bed or on a cramped airplane.