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Is the iPad an All-In-One Biz Tool?

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April 07, 2010

Is the iPad an All-In-One Biz Tool?

By David Sims, TMCnet Contributing Editor

Of course the question on everyone's mind is, "Can I convince my wife that I need an iPad because it'll take the place of my laptop?"

Tony Bradley, author of Unified Connections for Dummies, doesn't have that problem, as a tech writer he can justify getting an endless stream of cool tech toys as "work," much the same way a sportswriter can watch a baseball game while over at the in-laws' and call it "work."

Still, Bradley set outto find the answer - is the iPad your all-in-one biz tool?

He got the 32Gb Wi-Fi model, as he says, "to test the boundaries of what the iPad can do as a mobile business tool and determine its limitations as a notebook replacement."

Honestly, it was just work.

Bear in mind that Bradley's a fan of the HP Slate - elsewhere he's writtenthat "HP released a new video showing off its upcoming iPad killer -- the Slate tablet PC. In a mere 30 seconds HP manages to demonstrate that its tablet is everything Apple (News - Alert)'s iPad isn't."

Yeah, it isn't cool, it isn't fun, it doesn't have the "gotta have that" factor.

He found that he iPad is great for movies, TV and reading books and magazines. But you already knew that. What you want to know is, can you leave the laptop at home? Will it do everything your laptop does?

Bradley finds the iPad's not so hot at that: "One of the weaknesses of the iPad is the limited storage capacity. Its not expandable, so whatever you bought is what you're stuck with."

No problem, you say, we use Google (News - Alert) Docs. Ah, but Bradley finds that while it iPad can access the cloud, "with my Wi-Fi only iPad, though, I can't count on always being connected to the cloud."

Memeo has an app for that, Connect Reader, which syncs your documents from Google Docs so you can get them offline, connected or not. As Bradley says, "Problem solved -- assuming you use Google Docs and that you don't want to create or edit any docs while offline." It's Memeo Connect Reader, after all, not Connect Editor.

Strangely, the option to 'Create New' files is not available from within Safari on the iPad. You can get iWork for iPad apps (Pages, Numbers, and Keynote) to export files in Microsoft (News - Alert) Office-compatible formats for ten bucks each, and "create Office-compatible docs on the go with the iPad," Bradley says, warning that even there, "if you're out and about and suddenly need to edit a doc that you didn't have the foresight to sync to the iPad, you're more or less out of luck."

But as Bradley's found, "there doesn't seem to be any way -- at least no simple or intuitive way -- to grab a file from cloud-based storage and open or edit it with the iWork apps. If you don't have iTunes to import the file and sync it with iWork, then you won't be able to edit it on the go."

In the end, Bradley -- surprise! -- recommends the HP Slate tablet as "a much better business tool than the iPad," even if it doesn't have the weight and battery life advantages of the iPad. Or the coolness factor.

David Sims is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of David's articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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