When the iPad Becomes a Godsend

I must apologize for not keeping up on my blog recently, but I did have a distraction–I broke my femur right at the hip joint in a bicycle accident that required emergency surgery. Four pins later I awoke in a hospital bed with very limited mobility (I needed nurses to even turn me partially on my side) and a significant amount of pain–enough that the patient-controlled morphine push was not sufficient through the first night.

Now I bring this up not to engage sympathy but to make a technology point. A laptop in that situation would have been limited in its usefulness. It is too heavy and awkward to hold flat on my back and I was not in a condition where I could sit up for any length of time. With the combination of pain and pain meds, my attention span was severely limited. No TV program or book could hold my attention for more than a few minutes.

The iPad was a LIFESAVER through this situation. Even in the days after the hospital stay where I spent much time in bed, time and lack of mobility forced me to use the iPad more extensively than I would have otherwise. As I reflected over my use of the iPad these last weeks, I was amazed at the rich variety of tasks accomplished:

read email Mail app and browsers
watch movies or TV incrementally–when I lose interest I stop and pick it up later where I left off Netflix
read twitter postings Osfoora / Flipbook
listen to podcasts IPod app / iTunes
read technology and education news feeds NewsRack / Read It Later
play games against computer opponents Super7 / Backgammon / AngryBirds / HeartsHD / DominionHD / Bustit, etc.
read the local newspaper Perfect Browser
watch a movie from my own DVD collection transferred to the iPad (not sanctioned by our current goofy copyright laws, but I personally believe I should be able to view a movie I own on a device I own)
watch a movie from my own DVD collection via wifiAirVideo
read a book iBook / Free Books / Stanza
listen to an audio book iPod app
draft memos/emails for co-workers Mail app
read the Bible in any of a dozen + translations YouVersion Bible / BLB
watch sports clips and Youtube short videos theScore / SportsCap / Sporting News
write notes or voice reminders for ideas as they occur Evernote / iThoughts / AudioMemo
use the iPad as a telephone when I couldn’t reach my cell iCall
view shared Google Apps spreadsheets from workMemeo Connect (currently read-only)
listen to music iPod app
exchange documents with my computer Dropbox
connect via RDP/VNC to other computers and servers to do tasks remotely (helpful when mobility limited) Desktop
monitor the network SubnetInsight / Speed Test
print documents Print n Share (what a pain, Apple–please get iOS 4.2 out sooner than November)

All this on a device small enough to handle reclining–sure my arms would get tired sometimes, but nothing compared to laptop or a netbook. The iPad allowed me to keep my mind occupied with important and frivolous things in a difficult time. A laptop/netbook has this functionality but not the right form factor; an ebook reader and an iPod are too limited in capability; a smartphone doesn’t have the screen real estate for hour-after-hour use.

Some believe the iPad is the device of choice for fanboy snobs wanting to show off their elitism (there is even a silly research study on this). From a practical standpoint, here is my bottom line for these people: the iPad is a highly flexible device that trumps single-purpose devices with a form factor that allows it to be used in situations where a laptop or netbook could not work. Nothing elitist about that.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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