I always knew that I would be getting an iPad eventually, but after attending Association Media & Publishing's Annual Meeting in June….well, I'll admit it, I got jealous and had to up the purchase date.
First, it seemed like all the exhibitors had one. Then, I noticed people walking around with iPads that they had received as "tokens of appreciation” from their vendors. Next, Cecily Walters, assistant editor of the School Nutrition Association, won an iPad raffle drawing at the Association Media & Publishing Volunteer Appreciation Reception.
Kathleen Rakestraw, director, communications, for the American School Counselor Association, and I stared Cecily down as she giddily claimed her prize. We warned Cecily to look over her shoulder as she returned to her hotel room because Kathleen and I were coming after that iPad. Alas, we were all bark and no bite.
The final nail in the coffin was when Amy Lestition, CAE, executive director of Association Media & Publishing, came to Michigan to jointly present with me two talks at the Michigan Society of Association Executives (MSAE) ORGPRO conference. We ran both presentations from her iPad, and afterwards, she let me play with it a little. I couldn't stand it any longer—Amy returned to Washington, DC and I drove to the Apple Store at Partridge Creek Mall.
There are a lot of folks out there who think the iPad is primarily an entertainment device, a "toy” that you can check your email on, but once you pick it up, you can't put down. (I guess the inference there is that the iPad is a distraction to the average business person and will stymie their productivity?) At any rate, here are some early observations I've made now that I have been using the iPad for a couple of months for both business and pleasure:
Observation #1: I can't beat Amy Lestition's best time on Solitaire of 1:59 seconds. I've tried every night before I got to sleep for the last 8 weeks, and it can't be done.
Observation #2: Checking magazine covers on the iPad is awesome. In the past, when I was expecting a magazine cover proof to come in and I had to be out of the office, I would haul around my laptop. Now, I slip the iPad into my purse and when the proof comes in, I can see it beautifully in high-definition.
Observation #3. Reading on the iPad isn't that bad. I have downloaded several free books and purchased a few as well. I like reading books on the iPad, and when I finish one, I can quickly and easily download another without having to peruse an airport kiosk or hotel gift shop. I can also bookmark pages, highlight and email selected texts to colleagues or friends, and when I'm reading in bed, I don't need a book light—which is a big plus for me because mine always seems to run out of battery power when I am in my PJs at a hotel and can do nothing about it.
Observation #4. Returning email on the iPad makes me feel young again. OK, I'm not old, but I will admit that returning email on my smartphone often made me feel like my fingers were too fat to hit the keys accurately, I was devoid of dexterity, and I couldn't see the letters well. With the help of bifocal contact lenses (really!) and the iPad, I can now return email remotely—quickly, easily, and accurately—which is important when you make your living as a writer/editor.
Observation #5. Owning an iPad has helped me earn new business and separate myself from the crowd. When I go to a meeting, I wait for the opportunity to casually pull out my iPad and use it in a natural, functional way. I love to watch the eyes of the person who is speaking, as they try not to check it out. True, most of us have seen iPads in the store, but for a little while longer at least, you'll still earn a double-take when you actually use one in a business setting. I like to use mine for note taking. There's a great notepad feature that allows you to email your notes to yourself or someone else who was unable to attend the meeting.
My daughter used the iPad to survive a 10-hour drive from Detroit to Montreal, although there were times when we couldn't get mobile service. I use it to show folks pictures of my son and his girlfriend on their way to Prom. I have edited and proofed articles on it and viewed spreadsheets. It doesn't do everything my laptop does, but one thing's for sure: I'm not even close to figuring out everything it can do—and that I can do with it.