Review: Travels with my iPad

Deborah Ausburn <>

Well, I am finally back home after my 10-day trip with my iPad, and thought I would report to the group. There are some things I missed not having, but overall, losing the weight of the laptop in my briefcase outweighed all of that.

I left home two weekends ago, and decided to go cold turkey and leave my laptop at home. I did bring my wireless keyboard, just in case, and I bought a $2 business card stand at Office Depot that works fine to hold the iPad. I haven’t decided what sort of permanent set-up I want, so decided to go cheap on this trip. Also, I packed the keyboard & stand in my rolling bag, so I don’t count them as weight in my briefcase.

I also had to bring my iPod, since I didn’t get my music library transferred to my work computer (which I am using to the sync the iPad) before I left. Or, as my paralegal said, “Debbie, you are taking a iPhone, an iPad, AND an iPod? Isn’t there a support group somewhere for that addiction?”

Going through TSA was a breeze (comparatively speaking) as I was able to leave the iPad in my briefcase. I am glad that I waited for the 3G model, because the $30 AT&T charge was less than the cumulative total of WiFi at the 3 airports and 3 hotels I was in during this trip. I did notice that the AT&T TOS require me to go back and cancel my subscription before the end of the 30 days, or it will automatically renew.

In transit, I thoroughly enjoyed using the iPad to answer emails and review documents. It was much easier to pull out of my briefcase and use than my laptop. Many times, I have found myself reaching for a magazine than dealing with the hassle of setting up my laptop, particularly on airplanes. The iPad, on the other hand, was extremely easy. The keyboard (see discussion below) is limited, but I still was more productive than I have been recently with my laptop.

Early in the week, I got a call from one of my partners, who had been talking to me for a couple of weeks about a pending dispute. Well, as soon as I got out of town, of course, everything started heating up & I had to draft a complaint & motion for TRO for him to file. He’s not a litigator, so I needed to draft everything, and email it to him and my paralegal for filing. Pages worked fine, although it’s so stripped-down that I cannot recommend it for much beyond basic text. It couldn’t handle our firm stationery, for example, and screwed up the automatic numbering in the go-by complaint that I pulled off the cloud. But, it did the job that I needed in a pinch.

Fortunately, I make it a habit to keep documents on my MobileMe iDisk, and was able to use the iDisk app to pull down the contract & other documents at issue. The iDisk app is not yet optimized for iPad, but the iPhone 2x is not too terrible. Most important, it worked, in conjunction with GoodReader. I used GoodReader a lot to pull down documents from my iDisk that I needed to review, both on that and other cases.

iAnnotate was useless for documents that I had forgotten (or didn’t know) to sync before I left. I was able to open stuff from my DropBox in iAnnotate, but only GoodReader could pull directly from my iDisk. I also like GoodReader’s ability to create folders to organize the PDFs.

Docs to Go was not helpful, mainly because of its inability to pull stuff from my iDisk. I could email something from my iDisk to myself, and then pull it into Docs to Go or Pages, but Docs to Go just isn’t yet flexible enough on the iPad to make is useful. Pages works better, at least so far.

Neither Pages nor Docs to Go can handle the new docx format reliably. A couple of times, I had to get my paralegal to convert something to PDF & email it to me so I could review it. If I had needed to revise it, I guess I would have had to get her to drop it back a version to the doc format. That docx problem was a real pain.

In the seminar at the end of the week, I discovered the iPad version of OmniGraffle. We were doing some mind-mapping, and were supposed to be using their proprietary Windows-only software. Of course, since I didn’t have my laptop, I didn’t have the software. But, with OmniGraffle, I was able to do essentially the same thing and keep up with the class. Eventually, I will have to buy their software, if I want to continue to use the protocol, but for now OmniGraffle will fill the void while I decide if I want to invest more $$ in the proprietary technique.

And, let me say again, I am glad that I had my keyboard with me. The iPad keyboard works fine, but it’s impossible to work on it as fast as a full-size keyboard. Also, I need the keyboard flat, but the screen upright, in order to be fully efficient. When I was in transit (ie., airplane & Amtrak), the iPad keyboard was fine. When I was stationary, however, in hotels and conference rooms, the keyboard/biz card stand was essential.

I will be watching the reviews on the clamshell case, and scrutinizing the weight. The main advantage of carrying my keyboard & biz card stand is that I don’t have to put those in my briefcase. A clamshell, on the other hand, would neutralize much of the weight advantage that I like. So I may end up with the McAlly case & separate keyboard.

I also experienced the same thing that several of you have mentioned — being approached by strangers wanting to look at the iPad. It’s a better ice-breaker than walking a cute puppy.

All in all, I’m happy with my iPad. I’m much more productive on transit, simply because it’s so easy to pull out and use. If I had a brief to write while on the road, I would bring my laptop. But for everything else, my iPad has done all I needed it to do.


Debbie Ausburn
Attorney at Law, Atlanta, GA

P.S.: The iPad also salvaged the very end of my trip. Somewhere between standing up to get off the airplane and stopping in the airport restroom, my iPhone fell out of my pocket. While the very nice maintenance person checked the plane for me, I used the iPad to activate the “find my iPhone” feature. It showed up as not on the network, and the maintenance guy didn’t see it on the plane, so I never was able to find the phone. But I triggered a “wipe all data,” in case it ever was activated. I then turned my attention to communicating with my husband (a) that I had gotten an earlier flight, and (b) where I would be waiting. Using the App Store on my iPad, I foundTextPlus, a free app that allowed me to text him with all the details he needed to know. I guess I could have done that if I had had only my laptop, but it certainly was far easier with the iPad.
Sent from my iPad