There were tablets before the iPad, but the runaway success of the Apple release is without a doubt the chief instigator behind an entirely new consumer hardware market slotting in comfortably between smartphones and laptops. The iPad offers the best of both platforms while making a few notable feature sacrifices; they are not as transportable as your average smartphone and they don’t have the program or hardware flexibility that laptops or netbooks do.
Still, that has not stopped the iPad-using world from looking for ways to cast aside laptops in favor of tablet computing. We are still not there yet – Apple’s obstinate refusal to embrace Flash support is a substantial hindrance, for example – but the dream of an iPad-as-laptop-replacement can be achieved, as we’ll lay out for you now in this tiny primer.
The Accessories You’ll Require
The first actual step you ought to take in laptop-ifying your iPad is gathering your necessary peripherals. A keyboard ought to be thought about essential. There’s multiple options obtainable, including travel case mounts with built-in keyboards which fundamentally give your iPad the form factor of a netbook.
In case you require to go the keyboard case route, the most popular options range between $50 and $100 for both first- and second-generation iPads. Alternatively, Apple offers keyboard options that ditch the case but are worth taking a look at. There is an iPad keyboard dock ($69), which features tablet-specific function keys and the ability to charge as you type. There is also Apple’s wireless Bluetooth keyboard ($69); in addition to offering the flexibility of Bluetooth support, which works with much over your iPad, this keyboard also gets points for being highly transportable and having an impressive battery life. There is also no change of a future iPad release not supporting it, since Bluetooth is not likely going to be removed as a feature.
The only I/O port on the iPad is its charge point, a proprietary Apple connector, so there is not a whole lot in the way of wired peripheral options. While it is not officially supported, users have discovered that the iPad Camera Connection Kit – a pair of dongles which connect to the charge port, adding either an SD card reader or a USB port to the tablet – is lovely for over connecting cameras. While these are unsupported by Apple, the USB dongle will recognize USB keyboards, headsets, microphones and even hubs, in case you require to wire up over tool. The truly fearless who go the jailbreak route even have the choice of connecting an outside hard drive, though it is a complicated install method and it carries a few notable caveats.
Of coursework, the iPad is at base a wireless tool, which means you have some peripheral options that don’t involve connecting it to anything other than a Wi-Fi network. AirPrint was added with the iOS three.2 update, bringing support for Hewlett-Packard’s line of Wi-Fi-enabled ePrint printers to Apple devices. Setup is simple and the functionality is built right in to iOS, meaning it requires no additional app purchases beyond the printer. Of coursework, there’s also apps you can purchase that expand wireless printing capabilities to other Wi-Fi printers. Print n Share ($8.99) and Print Magic HD ($4.99) are of the more popular options, both having four-star user ratings in the App Store.
The Apps You’ll Require
Which apps you’ll require to utilize your iPad as a laptop computer replacement will depend largely on the kind of work and play you intend to make use of it for. There’s a few baselines that everybody ought to look to as beginning points, however. Most importantly, you’ll be wanting a proper suite of office productivity tools: word processor, spreadsheet application and presentation creator. Apple has its own trio of iWork productivity apps of coursework: Pages (word processor), Numbers (spreadsheets) and Keynote (presentations), which are priced at $9.99 apiece, however, there’s options.
Documents To Go ($9.99) and its Premium counterpart ($16.99) are popular options, offering the functionality of all of Apple’s productivity apps at a lower cost. The Premium edition adds the ability to generate PowerPoint presentations (you can only view them in the lower-priced version) and sync with files stored online in places like Google Docs and Dropbox. Both versions support Wi-Fi syncing with a local PC using a third-party application obtainable at no cost from the developer, DataViz. QuickOffice ($14.99) is another, equally popular iWork alternative, offering the same basic functionality as Docs2Go Premium at a slightly lower cost.
You ought to also think about Air Sharing HD ($9.99), which lets you wirelessly connect with a desktop and access your iPad as if it is an outside hard drive. This means simple drag-and-drop file sharing between desktop and tablet, but that is only a beginning point. Air Sharing HD can interact with a variety of file formats and perform definite operations the are not otherwise feasible (or need other apps) on the iPad, such as zipping/unzipping files (and browsing through archives), move/copy/paste/rename functions, downloads from URL links and more.
Moving away from the laptop computer and onto a more transportable platform, which will at least occasionally have its information cleaned for reason or another, you’ll also require to have some kind of backup in place to protect any work you might do on the iPad. The answer is simple here: Dropbox. It is a free app to start with and a free Dropbox account gives you seven GB to play around with, which ought to be plenty if you are only worried about backing up documents. Every month subscription designs are obtainable for those who need more storage space, but the maximum $9.99 per month for 50 GB of storage is probably way much for your average iPad.
Another universal require for office productivity is being able to take comprehensive notes. Evernote is a very popular free app, allowing you to generate text, photograph and audio notes, sync your work with other computers or web destinations and keep everything neatly organized. If you are willing to spend a tiny money, SoundNote ($4.99) is definitely worth the investment. In addition to the basic note-taking, the app also including a drawing tool for making speedy sketches inside your notes as well as an audio recording feature that syncs up what you have written with timestamps in the sound file.
Ironically, the bloggers of the world have the toughest time in the event that they require to abandon laptops for an iPad. There’s only viable apps for actual walking a blog, and in case you depend on any CMS that is not WordPress. The WordPress app is free but, as you have probably guessed, it only works with that platform. BlogPress ($4.99) has more flexibility, playing well with a variety of platforms, but both apps tend to be light on features unless you have got administrative access on the weblog side to set up the proper support. Even then… the functionality tends to be a tiny funky, with semi-frequent crashes and cases where basic page elements, such as Categories, cannot be accessed properly. Walking a blog from your iPad is feasible, but not advisable.
There’s a selection of free and paid instant messaging apps, such as AIM, IM+, BeejiveIM and Meebo. Same goes for Twitter; TweetDeck is by far the best free option, with a layout that is well-suited to the iPad display, though some prefer Twitterrific. Twittelator gets high marks as the best of the paid apps, with a great layout and enhanced social media integration features. Rounding out the basics, you’ll also probably require to nab some kind of photograph editing app. Photogene ($2.99) is an excellent option, as is FX Photograph Studio HD ($1.99). In case you prefer to go the free route, PhotoPad by ZAGG is the most popular option.
To Jailbreak or Not To Jailbreak?
As you’ll learn below, jailbreaking offers a great lots of more options for enhancing the iPad’s range of functions. Apple won’t be able to help you if something goes wrong, but performing won’t break your warranty and a Process Restore by iTunes will bring your tablet back to its factory settings, ought to you require to bring it in for service. Failure to do so may lead to Apple’s refusal to service your tool and/or disapproving glaring from the “Geniuses.”
If a jailbreak is something you require to think about, you’ll be wanting some level of technical knowhow and, more importantly, comfort before getting started. The actual method is simple , but there’s other factors to think about. For example, jailbreaks are usually operating or versions behind Apple’s official process updates, so if you are walking the latest iOS version or like to stay constantly updated, this may not be for you. Over that, when a jailbreak for the latest iOS update is released, you’ll require to first restore your iPad to its factory settings, then apply the Apple update, then jailbreak it again. This probably also means you’ll be doing separate backups, for your jailbreak apps and your regular apps.
You are taking a look at lots of potential laptop computer power on your tiny Apple tablet here, even without a jailbreak. So why do it at all? More flexibility, of coursework. Apple has been friendly about officially and unofficially supporting a variety of USB and Bluetooth keyboards, but there is no such love at all for mice. iOS is a touch-based interface and there is no code written in to its dark depths that allows it to understand how a mouse might be integrated.
To receive a mouse up and walking together with your iPad, a jailbreak is necessary, along with an app called BTstack Mouse (free) and a Bluetooth mouse; sorry, no wired or wireless USB mice, for obvious reasons. Setup is simple, though there is a catch: if you are also using a Bluetooth keyboard, you’ll require to download a separate jailbreak app, BTstack Keyboard ($5) in order to make the iPad recognize both devices.
You’ll also definitely require to select up iFile ($4), a file manager which offers total access to your iPad’s hard drive in a setup that resembles Windows Explorer. This is a necessary app for some of the more setup-intensive jailbreak activities. be careful; don’t go messing with files you don’t understand or change any settings with clearly marked “screw with this at your peril” warnings.
If you have got iFile, you’ll also probably require to go ahead and set up OpenSSH, which lets you access the iPad’s file process from a desktop. It is a lot like Air Sharing HD, only more flexible… provided you know what you are doing. Again, unless you are all right with following tutorials, don’t pursue this route in case you don’t know what you are doing.
There’s more jailbreak apps to think about that might make your life a tiny simpler. CyDelete (free) lets you quickly and basically remove jailbreak apps in the same way that you would an App Store download. Without CyDelete, removing a jailbreak app involves opening Cydia (the jailbreak equivalent of the App Store) and diving through a series of menus. Also think about LockInfo ($7.99), an app that lets you personalize the iPad’s lock screen with widgets like e-mail notifications and calendar updates