So, having finally got your hands on your shiny new iPad, the question is, ‘What else do I need?’ While there are literally thousands of applications and accessories to choose from (we’re using Pages to write this story) I’m going to suggest two things every savvy iPad owner needs.
In our experience, the iPad is as robust a mobile device as we’ve ever had. We’ve been slipping it into a satchel without any protection and there isn’t a scratch on it.
However, we’ve stopped tempting fate and have been looking for a case.
There are plenty of cases to choose from – everything from neoprene slipcases, silicone sleeves and a bunch of others made from a myriad of exotic materials. Like the iPod and iPhone, the iPad is creating an entire ecosystem of third-party accessories. Given we spend quite a bit of time using the iPad in business meetings, we like the idea of a leather folio-style case so we’re currently running with Belkin’s Leather Folio Case.
The $69.95 Belkin Leather Folio Case is elegant and provides the iPad with lots of protection. Sliding the iPad in is a bit of struggle as it’s a very tight fit, but that’s not a bad thing as it means there’s little chance of the iPad slipping out accidentally. Once in place, all the ports and buttons are still accessible and the inbuilt speakers remain exposed.
It would have been nice if there was a pocket for business cards and other work essentials but this isn’t a big deal. Also, there’s an elastic band that keeps the case closed, however every time we put it on or took it off it pressed the power button.
The second thing every iPad needs is a killer app. Now, we know that pushing a particular app is a dangerous thing to do but this one is practically a must.
GoodReader provides you with a working file system that you can use. One of the neat features introduced with the iPad is the ability for applications to pass documents between each other. GoodReader takes advantage of this.
For example, if you receive a file attachment by email, GoodReader lets you save the attachment outside your email. From there you can read, email or share the file to other systems.
Part of GoodReader’s magic is that it can access files stored in a variety of different online services. So, if you use iDisk, DropBox, Box.net or many other WebDAV services you can access and send files with them. We’ve also set it up to access our NAS over FTP so that locally stored files in our office can be accessed. If you set up FTP on your Mac you could use GoodReader on your iPad to send and retrieve files with your main computer.
In other words, GoodReader fills the gap many people have complained about. Transferring files between an iPad and another computer become quite straightforward once FTP is set up.
Finally, GoodReader includes a download client. This overcomes the limitation of Mobile Safari that stops you from downloading files that aren’t directly readable on the iPad. From there, the file can be emailed, renamed or opened in another application.
GoodReader costs just $1.19 – a bargain introductory price!
This article originally appeared in the July issue of Australian Macworld magazine.