In my role as family technical consultant, the advent of the iPad has presented more than the usual challenges. I rarely deal with Apple products and find the iPad user interface more than a little obtuse. What I really wanted was an iPad user manual and was a little surprised that Apple didn’t enclose one in the box or in electronic format on the iPad itself.
While Googling around looking up some iPad questions, I discovered that there is in fact an official Apple iPad User Guide which I have found to be extremely useful, but that you have to download it from Apple Support to your regular PC and view it there. This 154 page Adobe Acrobat PDF file cannot be viewed on the iPad itself and cannot be converted to an iPad iBooks-readable Epub file at the otherwise very useful Epub2Go website (see their front page warning about the iPad User Guide) because of some structural issues.
I recommend that you download the User Guide immediately and short of reading the whole thing, use the Adobe Acrobat search function to find the answers to your burning iPad questions that confuse the family technical consultant. Then you can become the expert!
There are a variety of weather apps available for the iPad, but by far and away the best that I have seen is Weatherbug Elite for iPad. It has all the expected weather features, but what really blew us away is the mapping. First, we are using a Wi-Fi iPad and yet Weatherbug Elite is able to pinpoint our street location almost exactly apparently because they use technology from Skyhook Wireless that uses a vast database of Wi-Fi access points to triangulate your position.
Second, the radar and other mapping is what I would term infinitely scalable. You can use the usual iPad multi-touch to zoom the display in to your street and out to your state or larger. The other night we were in the middle of a line of thunderstorms complete with hail and funnel clouds. With Weatherbug Elite on the iPad zoomed in on our location it was like watching the storms pass overhead. Very, very neat.
However, the best news is that Weatherbug Elite for the iPad is free. Give it a try and see if you do not think it is slick as well.
While I am thinking about the iPad, here’s another tip. The iPad doesn’t come with a protective carrying case – you have to buy one from Apple or choose from a whole slew of other vendors. However, we forgot to order one and needed an iPad case in a hurry so we scrounged around and discovered that the soft padded case that had come with an ASUS 10.1" Eee PC netbook was a near-perfect fit. It’s not a surprise – the Eee is roughly 10.3" x 7" x 1" inches while the iPad is 9.6" x 7.5" x 0.5". Even if you don’t have an unused 10.1" Eee PC case sitting around, try any other netbook case you might have – you may be as surprised as we were.
This isn’t a coincidence in another way as well. Now that the iPad has arrived I have noticed that family usage of the Eee netbook has dived. PC World has a story titled Survey Says: iPad Is Killing Netbooks which makes the case that the netbook market is getting clobbered by both the iPad and low priced notebooks and that theory makes sense to me. If you want a convenient Internet PC with lots of slick features besides, get an iPad. If you want a cheap portable Windows workhouse, why settle for a netbook when when you can get a full-sized laptop for nearly the same price? Still, it’s not all over for the netbooks yet as they can claim a price advantage over the iPad and a portability advantage over the full size laptops.