Keep taking the tablets

iPad screenshot
iPad screenshot

Ok, I admit it, I bought an iPad.

iPad Screenshot, paperless office
iPad screenshot – also an excuse to show a photo of my dog, Wyn

It’s a third generation, or “new iPad”, as Apple insist on referring to it. I was one of the many thousands world-wide who bought the latest shiny thing, the first day it was available: 16th March 2012.

You won’t have seen me camped out in front of an Apple shop – I’m English, it’s a shop, not a store – no, I pre-ordered my iPad, and had it delivered.*

It’s almost two years since rumours of a tablet computer from Apple turned into reality, and we found that it wasn’t after all going to be named the iSlate, iTab or iPlate (ok, I made the last one up).

I bought my first 16GB Wifi iPad in April 2010. I planned to use it for work – yes, really – and had been experimenting with all sorts of tablet-like devices for several years before the iPad came along. I wanted something I could use to:

  • take notes in meetings
  • access email, tasks and calendars
  • store reference material and books
  • search for information online
  • open common attachments like word, excel and powerpoint
  • access the corporate document management system
  • reduce (or preferably stop) me having to print work-related documents

I loved the fact the iPad was instantly awake, unlike the laptops, tablets, netbooks and e-readers I’ve used before, all of which all required a couple of minutes of booting up before they were usable.

Having said I wanted it for work, I also wanted something I could use at home and when travelling, so never even considered asking my employer to pay for it. It would be mine, all mine, hahaha…

iPad at work

Unlike everything I’d tried before, the iPad met most of my work requirements right from the start. It also had other benefits I hadn’t considered:

  • In meetings, laptops create a small but perceptible barrier between you and the person sitting opposite. Being flat, the iPad doesn’t create a barrier when you type
  • Many laptops have keyboards that click when you type, which can be annoying for those nearby. You can do that with an iPad too, but for me taking notes silently and unobtrusively is a real bonus
  • It takes a matter of moments to read or send tweets via iPad. Twitter is a wonderful source of news, research material and intelligence, which I raved in a separate post. My favourite iPad app for Twitter is Echofon (I can’t get used to Twitter’s own app)
  • I don’t store anything confidential on my iPad, but it’s reassuring to be able to find, lock and erase it remotely in case it gets lost

Where my first iPad didn’t quite meet my needs was its dependency on Wifi. Whilst it was great to use at home, and at Wifi hotspots, my workplace Wifi and iPad didn’t really get on, and I was forever having to log off and on / switch off and back on again to get connected. I use public transport a lot, and lack of connectivity also meant that I couldn’t be fully productive when travelling. Therefore, as soon as the 3G model was ready, I ordered it, and my partner Nicky was pleased to be presented with a very nearly new Wifi iPad as a result.

Once I had the 3G iPad I stopped printing documents and reports, as I either already had everything I needed with me, or I could get to it quickly. I didn’t record the last time I printed, but it was less than two months after I bought my first iPad. So, by June 2012 two years will have passed since I printed anything at all. The other bonus with the 3G model is integral GPS which makes journey planning really easy (where am I now, how do I get to where I want to go etc). I blogged about some of that a few weeks ago.

I’m not hooked (honest!)

Despite not printing anything, from time to time I still get handed bits of paper during meetings, and for a while I’ve wanted some way of scanning them on the fly without carrying extra equipment. I was therefore (just a bit) interested in the iPad 2 which includes a camera, but when I gave it a try in the Apple shop I found that the image quality just wasn’t good enough. My iPad was only a year old at that point, I was still really pleased with it, and I really couldn’t afford to splash out on another gadget so soon. I was secretly rather relieved that I had proved to myself that I wouldn’t buy just anything new and shiny from Apple.

My reason for buying the new iPad

So what changed? Well, I didn’t buy the iPad 3 new iPad because of the retina display (although it is very good), and it wasn’t the speed (although it is faster, particularly switching between applications and browsing), and it wasn’t the new iPhoto app either (which is quite wonderful), it wasn’t even the dictation facility (although it handles dictation better than anything I’ve tried before).

No, what clinched it for me was the camera. I now effectively have my document scanner and it works a treat, particularly with the brilliant Evernote app which supports text search within photos.

Photo of a page in The Big Issue taken with iPad
Photo of a page in The Big Issue taken with iPad
Screenshot of Evernote search
Screenshot of Evernote search

On the left there’s an example of a quick snap I took of an interesting article in The Big Issue*. On the right is a screenshot that shows text search within a photo using Evernote. The example is from the desktop version of Evernote, but search is supported on most platforms. I’ve been using Evernote for years, and it’s featured one way or another with pretty much every device I’ve used. I’ll blog about it some time, but for now will settle for a quick plug.

I’m quite keen on the iPad, you can probably tell. I can testify that, as a direct result of iPad, I haven’t printed anything at all for nearly two years. It’s effectively an extension of my own memory, particularly as all my notes are synchronised to my ‘phone (yes, it’s an iPhone) and desktop (er, yes, that’s a Mac).

Keeping on taking the tablets

So that’s it then, me and one particular type and brand of tablet. I don’t know anything about its competitors apart from the fact that there are now lots of them out there. I daren’t look, in case they’re any good…



As a bit of an aside I’d like to commend delivery company TNT who attempted delivery in the morning when I was out, and left a “Sorry we missed you” card. I live in a rural location at the end of a track and have battled with several delivery companies’ automated systems recently. I was therefore expecting hours of frustration when I picked up the ‘phone to call the Southampton depot.

To my surprise it was answered by a real person after only a couple of rings . Not just a real person, but a helpful and sympathetic one as well. When I asked about the possibility of same day redelivery, the lady – I think her name was Julie – said: “we are a bit busy“, and explained that they had the contract for all UK iPad deliveries, and their depot had around 12,000 iPads to deliver that day. [Fact-checkers: please note that might not be the correct number, but it was a lot].

Having done a good job managing my expectations (downwards), Julie then ‘phoned the driver, and called me back again a few minutes later to confirm he would indeed return that evening. When he turned up at around 6pm, I was so pleased I tried to thank him with a fiver, but he cheerily refused. What great service! I will definitely use TNT again.

**The Big Issue

I chose this article in The Big Issue for several reasons:

  • It’s a great magazine, full of interesting articles
  • Vendors keep 50% of the cover price for every copy they sell.
  • The article: Graphene – the next big thing, by Helena Drakakis is fascinating and well worth reading.
  • The page is quite “busy” with strong colours and dense text, so a bit of a challenge for both the iPad camera and Evernote’s search facility.

For sale

I’ll shortly be selling my original iPad. If you’re looking for a 64GB, 3G iPad then I can do you a good deal. Although it’s been in constant use for nearly two years, it’s in very good condition, no scratches, comes in its original box. One careful owner..

By Mark Braggins

Walking, usually with my two ex-racing greyhounds. Interested in lots of stuff. Work: Business Development and Research at Drawnalism


  1. Darn, I was hoping to get a #weeklyblogclub post out of my recent iPad purchase! This is actually very similar to what I would have written Mark, particularly the bit about the way you use your iPad (am also attempting to go paperless). Pretty much the only difference in my story is that I bought the ‘3’ because my ‘1’ is bust. I doubt my post would have been as well written though!

  2. Hi Lesley, gosh, thanks very much for your really kind comments. I wouldn’t let my post stop you blogging about your iPad. No one’s experience will be exactly the same and it’s interesting to get different perspectives. I’m also really keen to hear more about your experience of trying to go paperless. You said your iPad bust – do you know what caused it?

  3. Not really…it just went a bit flaky one weekend…and then refused to work at all. Have tried everything with no success, so must be a hardware problem. I was given it by my mum, who’d got if off eBay, so it may have been ill treated in the past. As you have, I’ve gifted it to t’other ‘alf who is going to take it to an Apple dealer at some point to see if it can be fixed for a reasonable fee.

    (and I will indeed pen something about my paperless journey…no pun intended :))

  4. Ooh, glad you’ll write something about your paperless journey – i’ll look out for that.

    re busted iPad, presume you tried the cold boot power & home key combo with it plugged in to power socket (that’s the only thing I can think of)

  5. Hi Mark

    Excellent post, just found this as I was catching up with #weeklyblogclub.

    I love my wifi iPad 2. If I am away from a wifi connection, I use the personal hotspot feature of my iPhone and access the web via my phone data allowance as I rarely use all of my 1.5gb monthly allowance anyway.

    I loved reading how you use your iPad, it’s given me some ideas. I mostly use mine for web browsing and reading – I have over 50 web and photography books (PDFs) stored in my iBooks which is awesome compared to what I used to do a decade ago – lugging around heavy 800 page tomes! The iPad is also a favourite with my 4 year old daughter, there are some fantastic kids apps out there.



  6. Hi Matt,

    Thanks very much for commenting – I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

    I forgot to mention books on the iPad. I completely agree – it saves lugging around heavy books.

    If I’m honest, I still prefer reading fiction on good old printed books, but particularly like iPad for reference or technical books which frequently contain links. I tend to use Kindle for iPad more than iBooks which allows you to add your own notes as well, which is useful.

    Cheers, Mark

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