The Apple iPad sold three million units in its first eleven weeks. It is currently selling at a rate of about 4.5 million per quarter, and is on its way to becoming the fourth-largest category of consumer electronics, behind televisions, smart phones, and notebook computers.
For many consumers, the iPad will not replace the computer. They will use the iPad more for content consumption than content creation. It is convenient for web browsing, emailing, game-playing, and socializing. While iPad is also an e-book reader, unlike Kindle or Nook, it offers other functionality and a variety of applications. The iPad handles all of the major e-book distributors. You can also easily import PDF files into the iBooks app.
iPads have multiple possibilities for use in academia. Rather than buying heavy textbooks and printing lecture notes, students can access some textbooks and their associated web sites on one easily portable device. Even better: its text has web-enabled multimedia.
The iPad may also change the way you view video content. ABC Television has an app that displays shows sharper and clearer than most TVs. Movies can be rented from Netflix or iTunes, or purchased outright. It’s also a great gaming platform, offering competition against dedicated gaming consoles.
A large number of inexpensive or free applications are available for the iPad, and more are coming every day. There are three broad categories of applications that are commonly used:
- The first could be called “Auxiliary Brain” apps. A number of applications are available just to keep track of information. They can be used to store a variety of information in encrypted databases like Bento and 1Password.
- The second category is “Reach Out and Touch Someone” apps. These can be used to remotely access other systems. iSSH can give full terminal sessions or VNC graphical sessions on clients, and Desktop Connect gives remote access to desktop machines.
- Last are the “Work Anywhere” apps. Evernote is a free application that captures text notes, voice memos, pictures, and web clippings and stores them in the cloud where they’re accessible from anywhere.
The instant-on button, the long battery life, the light weight, the vivid touch-screen, all combine with an intuitive game-changing interface to make the iPad of interest to everyone.