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Life With The iPad: Enterprise Ready

Apple's iPad isn't a replacement for anything -- not for an iPhone, iPod, nor a laptop PC. But as a mobile personal productivity device, or for a short business trip, it might be all you need.

We've rounded up a variety of iPad applications.
(Click for larger image and for full iPad app gallery.)

It's been two full days of travel with only an iPad, and I have almost stopped reaching for the mouse, remembering instead that I can merely touch the screen.

Back in the office, I confess I have touched my MacBook Pro screen several times now. I still badly want to swipe between apps but almost instinctively hit the home button now, effectively leaving one program to start another, resigned to single tasking.

I yearn at times for a transparent file system; I sometimes call this device an iPadlock. But through a series of powerful new iPad apps, and a few, simple, glued-together solutions, I can say that this flawed but stunning new device is a capable productivity tool for nearly anyone, either as an addition to a mobile office or as a stand-in replacement during a short business trip.

What follows are my personal experiences, including some details on what I would consider enterprise-class professional productivity application. In some cases, I've included short video demonstrations of these applications. Each is available today, many of them are free (at least the client-side iPad application), and often they require some information from an IT department to function, I'll focus first on the highs and lows of the iPad. Then, I'll explain my application adventures in depth.

The Bad Stuff

The iPad's shortcomings have been well documented, but it's lack of multitasking is its biggest downfall, and for some it may be a deal-killer, at least until an OS upgrade fixes this in the fall. It's unfathomable that a machine that probably has the processing power of a Cray can't do more than two things at once. More than anything, it's just annoying: a personal productivity killer at worst and inelegant at best. Not being able to listen to Pandora while crafting a document or reading e-mail just seems all 1980s.

I'm sure it's all about battery life, and not Apple's inability to program a virtual memory operating system. Programs like e-mail and AIM keep their lights on, so if you're working in one program, you'll get an AIM alert, including the actual IM right there, along with an option to relaunch the app or ignore it. E-mail also keeps tally of your message volume in its icon on the desktop. Calendar alerts also bust through any app.

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