Tuesday, May 18, 2010

iPad - Useful at Work in a Professional Capacity?

Demo Unit

A month ago the company purchased an iPad for testing and demonstration purposes.  Because I had time (and presumably resources), I was tasked with initial setup.  I took the opportunity to incorporate the iPad into work life.  I placed my Franklin-Covey planner into a drawer and carried around the iPad instead.  After a month of use I can come to no definite conclusion about this product.

I paid $10 for Keynote, and $10 for Pages.  I used Keynote daily, I never used Pages.  For taking notes and arranging ideas, Keynote fits the bill.  Using set templates and graphics, the app works to bullet point lists and present rudimentary graphics (pie charts and graphs).  But the interface is rough when attempting to reformat a page.  I still don't know how to reliably call the "copy, paste, delete" functions on a box (tap the box, then wait?  tap the box, pause, tap again and wait?).  Resizing snaps to center lines and existing objects but not to major ruler units, and it is impossible to define absolute positions and sizes.

Browsing the web is just as an iPhone.  The keyboard is clumsy to recognize when I am entering an e-mail address.  Numbers are not available on the default keyboard layout (big minus because our website is Zap2it.com).  Once the keyboard appears, browsing is reduced to a small slit: okay for text boxes, bad for text areas.

Using the Exchange e-mail client relies on an internet connection.  Error messages appear when service is interrupted.

Typing is horrid.  When on its stand in landscape I am forced to hunt-and-peck because I cannot ground to the F and J keys.  And my wrists began to hurt because I must float my hand over the keyboard.  On the iPad I reached a maximum of 30 WPM with fatigue setting in after the first two sentences (note: on a good day I hammer out 90 WPM on a standard keyboard).  Balancing the iPad with one hand while typing with the other is a bit awkward because of the small space available to hold the device, but was my preferred method of typing notes in meetings.

In meetings, it allowed me to arrange notes on the fly.  I would run multiple bulleted lists within a Keynote presentation, bouncing back and forth with ease.  My notes were more organized, but less in depth (due to slow typing speed).

I spit out a few flow charts as well.  The experience mimics both the usability and frustration of Visio.

I reduced printing e-mails by having them readily available.  But, I rarely print e-mails as it is.  The Exchange server cuts off the number of e-mails downloaded to a week.  So while I have important e-mails dating back months or years, I do not have access to them.

Having my Exchange calendar at the ready helped as well.

Could I incorporate the iPad into my work life?  Yes.

Can the iPad replace a paper planner/the Franklin-Covey system?  Certainly.

Does the iPad have any impact on productivity?  No.

Had the iPad helped in any way to improve my efficiency, I would consider it a viable product.  But it's shortcomings in refinement and power limit the device.  Just as with any tool, there are pros and cons.

Conclusion 2
Using apps for personal use (USA Today, What's On? HD, Eyewitness, and others): I enjoyed the distraction, but find it limiting that I must be near a WiFi hotspot for the full experience.  Watching movies or TV shows is annoying because of the glare/reflections; pretty much the same with reading.

But for personal use, the $500 price point kills it all.  Do I want to pay $500 for an iPad?  No thank you!

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