My 30 Day iPad Challenge

iPadOk, I admit it…I have been an iPad user for about 9 months. For the most part it was great for playing games with the kids, keeping up to date on news, following people/businesses on Twitter, and checking email. If you look closely the only item I was really using for business was email and occasionally I would get a question about my availability and use the calendar on the iPad.
Wade Kilgore (VP, Technical Operations @ Axxys) recently went to an industry seminar and used an app, called Note Taker, that allowed him to keep notes directly on the iPad. At this point I decided that I would commit to the personal “30 day iPad challenge”. Could I use my iPad for everything while out of the office (this includes running our business applications while in the field)? According to Apple and every other iPad users this should be a SNAP! Here is what I accomplished:

Taking notes at appointments/seminars

At Wades recommendation I invested the $4.99 for the Note Taker app. I use a pretty common stylus that I purchased at Best Buy for $12.99. The app works great and once you get used to it your handwriting tends to get a little better. I basically create a new notebook for each meeting and if there are notes or follow up items that need attention/retention I simply email the document to Outlook and file it away or schedule follow ups. For client meetings it was great to be able to file my notes/scribbles under their folder in Outlook. There is also an ability to send to an iPad compatible printer and create PDF’s. There are many other great features in this app but the most basic functions offer plenty of value for the money.

Access to Axxys (Terminal Server)

In order to get access to applications and documents we use at Axxys on our network I invested $11.99 for iTap Mobile RDP. This app allows me to connect to the Axxys Terminal Server. Once connected I have the ability to run our line of business applications, view documents on the server, and run Outlook. I do not use this all the time while out in the field but when you’re out of town and need quick access to the network it works great and is very functional. I will say that it takes a while to get used to the “gestures” that are used to launch apps and move around but I have definitely gotten my money’s worth out of this one. There are many other apps that allow you to connect direct to your desktop but please be sure that it falls in line with the security policy of your business.

Email/Calendar/Internet

These are all basic features of iPad and the apps are native to the device. What can I say…the email/calendar work great and stay in perfect sync with Outlook/Exchange. My iPad has the “3G mobile” functionality and it is well worth the extra cost. While out in the field when I need my email and calendar I do not want to be searching for a “hotspot”. From the browser I can run Outlook Web Access (in the event I need to get directly to my mail on the server) and our web-based line of business applications.

So what did I learn? The iPad is very functional for working in the field. There are ways to get access to any and all resources on your network to look at data. Will it replace my laptop? NO.  My preference is still to use a laptop while working from the office, home, or mobile hotspot. However, if I am in the field all day visiting clients, attending meetings, and managing personal appointments it is very functional.

I do not believe the tablet will replace the desktop/laptop at this time but it is a great companion. Simply one “mans” opinion. There are many choices out there in the tablet market so spend some time looking around and invest in that makes sense for you.