Wednesday, May 19, 2010

iPad Justification

It's sleek. It's portable. It's sexy. It's the iPad.

Say what you want about the name, but you have to admit that there are features of this new device that are just plain cool. Those that know me well, know that I have a bit of a weakness when it comes to Apple products. I own an iPod video (yes, the one before touch screen), and have owned mac computers since I graduated high school and my dad asked if I wanted a Dell or a Mac. When people ask me about what kind of computer they should get, I always tell them how happy I am with my apple products, and while I have had my share of stories regarding customer service, I always walk away a happy Mac customer. Therefore, when I first heard about the iPad, I was excited about it, despite flack from many critics about the name and criticisms about being an over-sized iPod Touch.

To set the record straight, I am not the owner of an iPhone or an iPod Touch, so it is not like I would be replacing a smaller device with a comparatively steroid-pumped cousin. Furthermore, I completely acknowledge that this device is an indulgent want, not a pressing need, but none-the-less, there are practical uses for it. What this is alluding to is that I have thought a lot about this purchase, and am fully aware of the pros and cons.

At the time I informed my dad that this is what I want for my birthday (which is in August), he laughed and asked what the heck I needed one of those for since I already have a Macbook Pro laptop. At the time (this was several weeks ago) there was no answer I could give him over the phone that accurately portrayed the logical reasoning behind why a device of this nature would be beneficial to me. Why I have to justify my choices in birthday presents is really beyond me, but because of my father's nature, I took this as more of a challenge than an instant defeat.

I had to start with my argument. My father is a very logical man, with a high respect for education. When I turned him loose with a camera for my college graduation, we walked away with almost 150 pictures of a 2 hour event. When I got into law school, he was the first one to have me read the acceptance letter out loud, and then have me sit in his den with him for the next 2 hours while he looked at the website and pulled out a list of things that we needed to ask when we went down for a visit. Therefore, my plan of attack was to situate the device as a positive for me as a student and future attorney at law, and all my research has been geared around this angle. To all you other students out there, potentially in the same situation I am in, I hope that I can consolidate your own research into this one-stop-shop - I live to serve.

Now, it was down to the research. Since my last post, I've been googling and pouring through blogs to find information on the advantages of an iPad for student/graduate student use. It boils down to the following things, simplified in a numbered list.

1) Portability - Yes, laptop computers are portable as compared to the previous desktop. However, when moving from room to room, there is still the hassle of balancing the computer, opening it again, typing in the password and then only getting the 2 or 3 hours of battery life while you surf, type, chat or game. The iPad makes this one step simpler, by just picking up the device and walking from room to room, never losing browsing time if so required. Again, this comes from the indulgent-side of the argument -- it is nice to have the portability from room to room, but it is not an absolute necessity to daily function.

2) Media Consumption - This flows almost directly from portability. Now, at your fingertips, is a new world of information, some of which is available exclusively on the iPad. Many important newspapers, magazines, television stations and other media are developing, or have already developed, apps for the iPad. Some of these include: the Wallstreet Journal, ABC, NPR, CNN, Netflix, TIME Magazine, various fashion and entertainment publications, and many more.

The really cool thing about the iPad and these forums is the new capability to interaction. With the touch screen, there are new possibilities for direct interaction with media. The best example I can think of is the Alice in Wonderland app that I have heard so much about. It is a book with things to do on each page -- looks wildly fun! Here is a youtube video that demonstrates this: Alice in Wonderland App for the iPad.

Am I saying that this app in itself is good justification for a student or lawyer to own the iPad? Of course not. But, it is an example of the potential in store for browsing media (both print and online) with this device.

3) Terrific Reader - One of the things I kept finding repeated throughout my research was praise for the readability of the iPad. What I mean by this, is that it is apparently very easy to read things on the 9.5" screen - not only read, but annotate and mark-up documents with various apps designed for this very purpose. This got me thinking to one of the really great aspects of the iPad - the digital library. I love to read, and while there is nothing like having the paper and ink copy in hand, there are often days where I wish it was easier to look for a book on my shelf. Cue the digital age.

With the book store on the iPad organized the way I have seen, it seems a cinch to locate the book you want, and with the LED back lit screen, you could read for a while in a comfy environment. Would you be able to read for hours on the screen? Probably not. But in this day and age, I find myself reading sporadically through the day when I get a spare moment as opposed to curling up and spending hours engrossed in the written word.

In this section, too, should go a blurb about the possibilities for students that are associated with this. While things have certainly gone more digital in the last few years, there are still mounds of textbooks and readings that are assigned every week. Wouldn't it be marvelous if all these documents could be brought together in one device that students could use? Instead of having 5 monster textbooks for one semester, I could simply obtain digital copies of them and consolidate my bookshelf to make more room for other things. Not to mention, avoiding the back strain that comes from carrying those books around from class to class would be a bonus. Of course, more would have to be developed between app creators and textbook websites to make this a possibility, but with any luck, we will start to see more headway on this soon enough.

4) Apps for Students and Lawyers Alike - I figured that I would end this post by looking more specifically at the kinds of apps that are available on the iPad, which may boost productivity as a student or future lawyer (as the case may be). I figured that, if anything, these would be good indications of the benefits this device may have for you:
  • iWork Suite - This includes Pages, Numbers and Keynote. A word processor like Pages is apparently very functional, according to, and "permits productive work where a laptop wouldn't be available, practical or fun to have around." This could be ideal for a student in the school setting, as it allows the combination of productivity with portability. Yes, this app might cost a little extra at a whopping $30, but if you are going to use this device for something constructive, I feel that this might be just the necessityto justify this purchase.
  • Things - This is an organizer application, and it apparently works quite well for the iPad. Of course, for students and lawyers alike, it is important to have something to keep all your classes, assignments and meetings organized. Despite the little problems, this is yet another way to keep everything straight, which is important when things get as hectic as they can on a student schedule.
  • - Yes, it sounds stupid, but in the world of academia, there are bound to be words that you just don't know, especially in reading. With the ability to read a book on the iPad and look up words that you can add to your vocabulary, this would be a great device for any stage of the academic process.
  • Zosh - This is a document annotation application, allowing the user to view .doc, .pdf, .ppt, .tif documents and make your own notes on them, including signatures and text boxes. This can be very handy when reading documents for class, or even editing your own papers while moving around your domicile.

So, there we have it. My attempt at forming a coherent argument for why I should get an iPad for my birthday in August. Please keep in mind that this list is in no way exhaustive, and if you can think of anything else to add, please post a comment and be heard! We've got another 2 months to make this the best argument it can be!


  1. f&#k the ipad, i am a Mac user and have been for some time, but i dont support apples drm, or any product they have created that does not allow users to customize it to their preferences. I have a macbook pro, i run linux and osx dual booting, if i could do similar things on an ipad without an extensive amount of hacking, its not worth my time, give me a joojoo pad anyday over that overpriced turd

  2. Well, while all opinions are welcomes, keep in mind that technology is good for what you need it for. I don't do all the hacking and things of that nature, so those are concerns that don't really matter to me. If I needed to run Linux on my computer or the iPad, then my criteria would be a lot different. But if that is what you are desiring a piece of technology for, then by all means don't get one!

  3. Even if you never use the features why support removal of rights to tinker with your hardware. It's similar to buying a car then never being able to do anything but drive it, hell let alone fix it without paying exhorbant premiums. If Jobs has his way, people like me would never be able to fix and/or modify his devices. Funny thing is he founded his company by hacking a computer together with the Woz...


    Thought you might find this interesting :)