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The iPad: “I Need It For School and Other Things”.

April 12, 2011

I’m what the tech-blogs and forums have dubbed an “Apple fanboy”. When Apple unveiled the iPad on January 27th, 2010, I wanted one instantaneously. I had no use for one back then, but still I had a desire to acquire. The common criticism of the iPad is that it is simply a “bigger iPod touch”. Yes, superficially that is true. But the iPad is a “bigger iPod touch” in the same way a 60-inch HDTV is a bigger 32-inch HDTV. If you own an iPhone or iPod touch and then play around with the iPad, you’ll immediately notice that they are not the same in terms of functionality. The bigger screen changes everything. Every single application that has an iPhone counterpart feels different and gives you a different experience than what you may expect.

So how was I going to justify getting one? By telling myself that I needed it for law school, duh! The iPad is the king of convenience. Most of the time, it is the only thing I bring to class. I purchased a stylus from Amazon that lets me annotate directly on my briefs. I can highlight points the professor covered in class, cross-out the insignificant facts, and write any supplemental notes at the bottom. Everyone has their own method of studying and being engaged in class, but I find annotating on my briefs more effective than typing out notes in class. The app I use for annotating is called iAnnotate PDF and costs $10 in the App store. After I annotate, I can email the briefs (along with the annotation) to myself or transfer them to another application called GoodReader. GoodReader is a document storing, managing, and reading application that gives the iPad a classic “file management” system that you would expect from a traditional computer. GoodReader also lets you annotate on documents, but I find the experience is not as smooth as the iAnnotate PDF application. GoodReader costs $5 in the App store.

While I’ve only touched upon a couple of applications, there are many other productivity-boosting apps in the iPad’s catalogue. But I must confess, I don’t just use the iPad for school. I use the iPad to check Facebook, check my email, check what’s going on in the NBA, check what the weather is, read a book, watch Netflix, listen to music, and well, you get the picture. I know what you’re thinking at this point: “Oh Karan, but you don’t need an iPad to do all those things”. Yeah you’re definitely right about that, and that’s the crazy part! At first glance, the iPad is the device that appears to serve no purpose if you own a laptop and a smartphone. After all, it’s not replacing your laptop and it’s not replacing your smartphone.

But Apple did not design the iPad to replace your smartphone or laptop. The iPad was designed to bridge the gap. That’s part of the reason netbooks got as big as they did. But you’ll notice that you hear very little about netbooks since the iPad’s release. We are now in the age of tablets, with the iPad leading the way. It’s hard to define the purpose of the iPad, or the modern tablet for that matter. For example; when you buy a smartphone, you know that you’re going to use it to make phone calls. When you buy an iPad, you can use it for whatever you like. It can be your toy, your tool, or your guide to becoming a lawyer. For me, it’s all three.