I am really glad that Rusty has chosen to share his 1st ten days of his iPad experience with us.  I have been doing a lot of reading on the iPad and the future of tablets.  I will be sharing my thoughts and research later this week.  So all you geeks get ready to read and comment.

I have a reputation as being docSTAR’s ‘gadget guy.’ As an early adopter for most technology (having bought my first computer almost 30 years ago) the launch of the Apple iPad was too much to resist. I started to pre-order one only to find out they were not shipping for 10 days past the April 3rd launch date. This is an ETERNITY to a gadget guy, so I was relieved to find that Best Buy would be offering a handful of them on Saturday. The store opened at 10AM and the rumor was that they would have at least 15 to sell.

I was fourth in line just after 7AM. The couple in front had been there since 4AM. Shortly after I arrived a local news crew stopped by, took several shots and did a quick interview with me. Of course I brought up docSTAR and paperless technology which did not make it to the broadcast.

Link to Broadcast clip here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26zqkSXvQ7k

The store manager came out at 8AM to let us know they did not yet have any iPads to sell, but that we would receive vouchers for the right to buy one as soon as they came in. At 9AM, UPS arrived to our cheers! By the time the doors opened there were about a dozen folks waiting to get in. Lucky for us they arrived fully charged so we didn’t have to wait the obligatory 10 hours before firing it up!

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General Applications

  • All of my iPhone applications work perfectly well and easily ported to the iPad. It has a mode that doubles the size of the apps so they work full screen but with lower resolution.
  • Native full-screen iPad applications look amazing, like the difference between standard TV and high definition.
  • Some apps can work with either the iPhone or in high resolution on the iPad. Kudos to applications that do at no additional charge (Google, Weather Channel, and Kindle) and jeers to those that make you buy the app again to get the full iPad resolution (Air Sharing).

Features

  • The sound quality is amazing, almost Bose-like. It seems to come from the bottom of the iPad when it’s on a solid surface. It is not stereo but the quality is impressive.
  • The iPad supports a Bluetooth keyboard. Typing on the onscreen keyboard is difficult for me to do with two hands. Unlike every other reviewer I’ve read, I will admit that I am NOT typing this on the iPad but am using the keyboard on my laptop.
  • Most of the neat stuff to do on the iPad requires Wi-Fi. I have a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot to connect to, which is very convenient. If that’s not available to you I’d recommend waiting for the 3G version which is out later this month.
  • The iPad includes a GPS sensor, something that the initial reports said it might not have. This is nice, not so much as a Garmin replacement (which it can do), but for applications like Weather Channel and restaurant finders that can pinpoint your location.

Business Applications

  • As far as insurance applications, to many of us a “producer-friendly” slate has been considered a holy grail of technology. When I was with AMS, we worked on products like PS/4 which worked with Pen Computing for Windows and 360 Mobile which worked on Windows Mobile devices. These never worked except for the geekiest of producers because of the slowness and poor user interface. One friend who develops insurance application forms says they are close to releasing an iPad friendly version.
  • As far as docSTAR goes, it works well with the Web-enabled version of docSTAR (WebView) to access documents in real-time over the Internet. Documents can be emailed from docSTAR and opened on the iPad. With the help of some simple apps for iPhone and iPad, docSTAR allows documents to be imported directly to iPad with the ‘send-to’ function. One that works well is FileApp Pro which has versions for both iPad and iPhone. On the iPhone, having a convenient copy of a document that can be easily emailed is a benefit; obviously it’s not practical to be viewed on the small screen with a customer or prospect except in an emergency. The iPad changes this and finally makes it easy to share images, photos, and documents while allowing them to be emailed or printed as needed.
  • Certain applications allow the iPad to use the Internet to remotely access your desktop PC or Mac (I use Desktop Connect), to access your iPhone from your iPad, or to access your iPad from a desktop PC. I’m just starting to try them out.

One challenge is knowing which devices to carry when. It’s easy to get overloaded when you have a laptop, iPhone, and iPad to carry and you’ll almost always want to have your phone. Thankfully I resisted purchasing a Kindle or netbook knowing that the iPad was on the horizon. For me it’s not yet a laptop replacement but it’s getting there!

So share your iPad experiences or your questions for Rusty.

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