Uses for an iPad in a house full of tech?
August 28, 2012 10:55 AM   Subscribe

As a person who has a good laptop and an iPhone, what uses for the iPad (2nd Gen, 16 gb) am I overlooking? Differences from this question under the fold.

I have been surprised with an iPad 2 as a gift. Basically, I want to know how to best take advantage of what the iPad, as a thin little box with a big bright screen and a decent processor, has to offer.

So the above-linked question is great, but I need less app recommendations and more uses. Stuff like:
  • Read comics/books that e-ink readers can't handle.
  • Have lots of recipes on hand in the kitchen.
  • Browse/read/watch in bed.
Obviously, uses for it will come with app recommendations, so that's great, but I've got the answers as to the best ways to keep notes, watch movies, browse the internet, whatever. I won't be using it for music or podcasts or audiobooks. What I want is to find some uses to differentiate it from the tech I already own.

Last thing: Is the iPad 2 as flimsy as it feels? It'll be coming on the train with me sooner than later; do I need anything heavier to protect it in my bag than the smart cover?
posted by griphus to Technology (9 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Get Paper. Fingerpainting / drawing with zero clean-up for $7. It will re-awaken the part of you that stopped doing watercolors in 6th grade or whenever.
posted by gauche at 11:01 AM on August 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you only have the laptop, this might not be useful for you, but I used my iPad and now more recent tablets as a one-stop-shop remote for all my other computers. Application-specific front-end "remote" apps for controlling media on my HTPC (XMBC, Spotify, and the uTorrent web interface) and a VNC/SSH client for everything else. It's much, much nicer than doing the same thing on a phone.
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 11:11 AM on August 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

1. You can read the internet when you're not online!

Do you use Instapaper?

It's a service that lets you save websites for reading later on iPad/iPhone/Kindle. It takes the capability of the tablet as a reading device and gives you a really easy way to turn any piece of writing on the internet into a nicely formatted page for reading.

The service is donationware, I think the apps cost a bit of money. I use it on iPhone and Kindle and it's totally awesome! If you save stuff regularly it's like having your own magazine full of stuff you already know you want to read. I'd say it's a must-have for the train.

2. You can play board games with 0 setup time and no pieces flying around

Also, there are some great board games with iPad ports that I hear are quite good like Carcassonne and Ticket to Ride. I play both of those games and would highly recommend them. I think playing board games on a train (or in bed!) is otherwise quite difficult.

I now realize that this can probably extend to pen/paper games with a decent drawing app!
posted by musicismath at 11:47 AM on August 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

I used to be on my computer a good 2 hours in the evening, mostly browsing the web. Anymore, I barely touch it. The big thing is to get all your devices talking to each other so that whatever you're reading/watching/working on follows you from device to device. And it'll help if your laptop is always available to the network (ie, plugged in and--unless its a recent mac--not asleep).

Install Google Chrome and set up sync. If you use it on your desktop/laptop/iphone/ipad the browsing experience is fantastic. Any tab open on any of your devices will be available on all of them. Fantastic.

Run AirVideo, StreamToMe or Plex on the laptop. That'll serve any video file from the laptop to your iPad or iPhone. You've got plenty of options for streaming video off the internet, too, including Netflix.

Install Dropbox on all your devices. Keep ebooks and comics in your Dropbox folder on your laptop. Now they're available in the dropbox app on the iPad/iPhone. You can zip them from that app over to ComicZeal (my personal fav. comic reader) or Stanza/iBooks/Kindle.

Instapaper is a great offline/simplified reader for long form articles.

Simplenote (and notational velocity on the desktop) is the best way to sync text among devices.

Evernote is a nice way to sync up all your more random bits of info. That's where I keep recipes and receipts and clipped web pages.

Splashtop is the fastest way to do screen sharing. I can get quite a bit of real work done on my iPad and bluetooth keyboard by splasttopping in to my office computer.

If you use CrashPlan or some other cloud-based backup service, you can use the iOS app to access any file you've ever had on any of your computers. Super handy.

Don't discount using it for podcasts/music. The AirPlay streaming to an airport express/apple tv/computer from Spotify, Audible, Downcast or TuneIn Radio is super convenient. I walk home listening to podcasts on my iPhone via headphones. When I come in the door, I just tap a couple buttons and the audio magically starts coming out of the speakers in my kitchen instead. Easily worth the $45 the used airport express cost me. TuneIn Radio is great, because you can scrub backward in live radio broadcasts if you miss something.

No, it's not horribly fragile. Don't drop it. Don't sit on it. Use the smartcover to keep the screen from getting scratched up.
posted by pjaust at 12:07 PM on August 28, 2012 [3 favorites]

Is the iPad 2 as flimsy as it feels?

It's very solid. Obviously, anything with a big hunk o' glass is in danger of being broken if mishandled, but it's certainly less delicate than your laptop. I use mine all over the house and at work, and am not exceedingly careful with it. I try not to drop it (although I have once or twice, on carpet or hardwood), but I don't keep it in a case other than the magnetic screen cover.

My beautiful bride, on the other hand, is very hard on hers. She uses it in the kitchen when baking cakes, and plays games, browses the web, reads, etc. She has dropped hers numerous times on wood/linoleum floors, covered it with flour, sugar, frosting, fondant, etc. It has some dings in the case, and the screen has some scratches, but it functions perfectly. Obviously, the fact that hers survived multiple drops is pretty lucky, so I don't recommend it, but, yes it's a sturdy piece of work.

As a person who has a good laptop and an iPhone, what uses for the iPad (2nd Gen, 16 gb) am I overlooking?

I also have an iPhone and a MacBook Pro. I actually put off buying an iPad, because I thought I wouldn't use it enough. I was SO wrong. It's not so much that I started doing things on the iPad that I couldn't do on the MacBook, but rather I preferred doing things on the iPad that I formerly did on the MacBook. I'd estimate that 80% of everything I did on the MacBook is now done on the iPad. I still edit my photos in Lightroom on the MacBook, and of course store all my photos there. The iPad is great at editing photos as well, but there are just more pro-level options in Lightroom. Almost all web browsing in now on the iPad. The only time I use the MacBook for browsing is if there is something essential that doesn't work on the iPad - extremely rare.

I'm not sure what things you normally do, but one of the things I love on my iPad is using iAnnotate with PDF files. My job requires that I mark up PDFs of schedules produced in MS Project during meetings, then use my notes to update the schedules. I used to do this with paper printouts, but now instead of a 2 inch stack of paper and a pen, I use my iPad and a stylus. When I'm done, I email the file to myself and have a searchable PDF document on the computer to refer to, instead flipping through hundreds of pages of paper.

Basically, just get to know your iPad and in short order you'll be answering your own question.
posted by The Deej at 12:11 PM on August 28, 2012

Mine particularly did not deal well with a drop onto hardwood, it necessitated opening it (with a heat gun to melt the glue) and reseating the video cable. It's why mine is held together with tape now. (Well, I think it gives it character.)
posted by JHarris at 3:20 PM on August 28, 2012

It would be handy for learning to play guitar.

Great for boardgames

Instapaper is awesome

Perfect for movies on a plane, or a long road trip.

Great for ebooks and comics


TV stations have apps, with video.
posted by backwards guitar at 3:45 PM on August 28, 2012

I would recommend Pocket over Instapaper. Pocket's app is more attractive, more functional and has better cross platform support. It's also free, and Instapaper isn't.
posted by cnc at 4:21 PM on August 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

I agree about board games.

My housekeeping habits have changed now that i have a no-fuss lightweight but not tiny way to take video with me from room to room while I work. Changed for the better, that is.

In theory I could have done this with a laptop. The reality was that I did not.

I also use it to catch photos from the eye-fi card in my dslr, and to touch them up on the fly. On a recent work outing, it turned camera chimping into a highly social/collaborative event. I am much more likely to do an intial cull in this way too.

A big motivation for acquiring it was its manueverability. Mine goes into a pocket in my purse with a smart cover--oh, and your standard scratch preventing screen protecting film.

I've left the giant work laptop at home on recent personal travel, and enjoyed having just a "personal item" on the plane. As someone who hasn't traveled without a computer (work or personal) for years, it was a revelation.
posted by nita at 8:20 PM on August 28, 2012

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