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Early Adopters, First Time iPad Usage and Needed Work-Arounds

Fearful that the iPad could become the hot Christmas gift in short supply like the 1983 cabbage patch doll,

By Howie Fenton
Published: December 13, 2010

Fearful that the iPad could become the hot Christmas gift in short supply like the 1983 cabbage patch doll, I broke down and bought myself an iPad this weekend. I got the 32 GB WiFi + 3G model, a tripod case that makes screen typing easier and a small keyboard. Even though Apple said they would “set it up” if I bought it at the Apple store, I decided to take advantage of the credit card 5% off deal from a retailer and spent the weekend trying to figure it out. I am writing this blog on Sunday while watching a very sad Bronco football game.

After admitting this, I guess I fit the typical profile of an early adopter. A study released last week found that most users are well-educated, hard working guys between the ages of 35 and 64. While I am not sure I am well educated, the study by the Reynolds Journalism Institute found that most users were well-schooled, successful guys between the ages of 35 and 64 who use the iPad for reading at home.

The study found that:

  • 80% of users are men

  • 70% are between the ages of 35 and 64 (the average age of all respondents is 48)

  • 73% reported that they use it most at home

  • 90% reported their satisfaction was either very satisfied or somewhat satisfied

  • 76% reported they are very likely to recommend the iPad

  • 63% reported that they spent more than an hour a day with the iPad

  • 89% said that they use their iPad throughout the week.

At this early stage, I can say there are some things I love and others that I hate. I love the wide variety of web experiences such as web browsing, email and social media such as Facebook and Twitter. I like the app store too much. Like the Kindle Store, it is too easy to download apps or books and with little effort. I like the NetFlix app and streaming movies. I like the access to my Kindle books and the access to the NY Times and USA Today. But the newspaper access is only available when online, which means I can't download newspaper subscriptions purchased through Amazon for the Kindle and read them on an airplane – at least not yet.

Admittedly I am a newbee and maybe there are work-arounds but there are two things I hate. I hate the lack of arrow keys on the iPad screen keyboard, which makes it tough to correct a typo, especially if you have big fat fingers like me. But this may be an easy change since the screen is “virtual” and if I were a betting guy I would bet that future OS changes would include arrow keys for both word processing as well as spreadsheet applications.  Thankfully this is a huge advantage of the seperate keyboard.

And most of all I hate the lack of save options, and lack of standard computer file folder strategy. I would love to have the iPad appear on the network, share files with my computer, and allow “Save” and “Save As” functions with files – but I can’t – at least not easily.

There are all kinds of work-around solutions with iTunes, emailing and iWorks to transfer and synchronize files but they are all kludgy. It’s strange to say but it is easier for me to save a Word file as a PDF and copy it to a $140 Kindle than transfer files to a $700 iPad for access on an airplane.

At this point I am emailing files, but I am curious how others are "working around" the issues of file transfer and saving? Anyone have some great work-arounds?

Howard Fenton is a Senior Consultant at NAPL. Howie advises commercial printers, in-plants, and manufacturers on workflow management, operations, digital services, and customer research.

Howie Fenton is InfoTrends' Associate Director of Operational Consulting. For over 25 years, he has focused on benchmarking operational and financial performance in in-plants and commercial printers. He can be reached via e-mail at Howie.Fenton@infotrends.com.



By Barbara Kirkevold on Dec 13, 2010

Many of the issues you describe I have also faced. I bought Pages for the IPad but I have a PC so I have to save as doc or PDF to view or print via PC. My HP printer doesn't support Air Print so I still have to print docs via PC. I tried eprint application but Pages and email on my IPad don't recognize these files.

If I want to edit office doc (e.g., Word, PowerPoint, etc) I use documents to go on I pad but printed via pc. If I want to remotely access my PC I use a free app called splash top. Yesterday, I tried dropbox app to wirelessly transfer doc to Ipad, which then can be printed via eprint.

It would be wonderful if Apple would modify Air Print to support more printers!


By Paulinvite on Dec 13, 2010

Howard, you need docs to go, you can wirelessly share files between your desktop and IPad. It supports PDF and all office docs, Word etc. You can also use as a stand alone office to create documents, it also has the save or save as feature that you are used too. There is a slight learning curve, but it's quite quick to adapt. Good thing as well if is that you can connect to your docs when out and about via 3G or a WIFI connection. I agree that no arrow keys on the keyboard can drive you nuts, but it's a case of getting used to the magnifying glass when holding your finger on any text then moving the cursor to where you need to edit. Also the paste option is great once you realize that there is a big difference between select and select all, again it's a learning curve. Now with the 4.2 update it is superb to say use a translate package copy the result and pop straight back to half constructed mail, or any doc via the double click home button.

When I first got my IPad, as a Andoid user, I found it limited and lacking in features, now I can't find much to complain about. Whilst I think Android is unbeatable for smart phone use. The way that the IPad "just works" is amazing and something that has made me eat humble pie. I rarely use my laptop, other than work based use, as the IPad blows it out of the water for speed of use and wake up time.



By MauritsJC on Dec 13, 2010

Dropbox & goodreader make a perfect couple on your pad.


By Linus on Dec 14, 2010

I love the iPad and I work for a print company. Fom a book perspective it is great. I can read Kindle, Googgle, Apple, Nook, and Library books on the same device. All of the manufacturers cannot decide upon a standard format or they will not support a different manufacturers DRM format. The iPad supports them all with ease and I can view all of the accounts that I have. I have not tested my Sony books yet.

Newspapers on the iPad are the best. The WSJ, Bloomberg, and USA today are very well done. I can read my news in the morning and walk away without ink on my hands and a newspaper to throw away.

I only have one magazine subscription and it too is well done. The Economist has an app that replaces the monthly print edition. Again my experience has been great.

If I was a book, newspaper, magazine printer, I would be nervous if there was not a plan to incorporate these devices into my offerings.

Tip for the printers: accept these new media devices. Use them as part of your business offering. Transition your business to work with these devices. I shake my head when I read reports that are heavily critical of new and emerging media devices and social media. This reminds me of certain large printing companies who thought the Internet would be a passing fad that would fail. Now many of use use web to print, and include social media in our offerings. Change in technology (disruptive or no) is good for all of us. Overall it forces us to be more competitive and better at our business.

I think this was a great article. Thank you for writing it.


By Pat McGrew on Dec 14, 2010


A little further south than you in Denver at about the same time I took possession of the 64g version with wifi and 3G, though I haven't signed up for a data plan as yet.

I'm in the same place you are. Still struggling to fit my way of working into the iPad architecture. I have acquired Pages, Numbers and Keynote for the iPad, but I'm still working on a strategy for bringing my work to the iPad in a version-controlled manner to use in those applications. I have opted to leave my subscription newspapers and books on the Kindle, which I still find easier to read and hold for long flights.

I have located a number of news sources available to the iPad that I like, including The Straits Times, which I read in Asia, and BBC which also links to the BBC Radio feed. Again, I connect on WiFi for now.

One thing I am doing is using the camera connector which will allow me to move things with a standard USB.. and that has worked so far. We'll see what happens as the number of files grows.

I want a folder manager, but I haven't found one yet.

I also opted for the external keyboard, though I am getting more comfortable with the on screen keyboard for shorter blogs and articles. We'll see if that lasts, too!

Good luck with the iPad!

Pat McGrew, M-EDP, CMP


By Howie Fenton on Dec 14, 2010


I too still love my Kindle but I am trying to find a way to save newspapers and other web content to read without connection to the internet for flights. I have discovered one possibility but I have not mastered it yet. There are two apps called InstaPaper and Read it later that are plug ins to Safari and allow you to save web pages for reading while not connected as you might be on a plane.

Another app I am loving as an alternate to standard newspapers (which are likely to go behind pay walls soon) s called EarlyEdition. It uses SMS feeds and formats them on the fly into a newspaper like format. EarlyEdition allows you to customize the content you want to read.

My problem with InstaPaper and Read it later is that I have upgraded to the latest iOS but the instructions are from the previous iOS and I have not figured how to configure it yet. But these are interesting alternatives.

FYI, I also e-mailed Amazon asking about accessing the newspapers and blogs that are sent to my Kindle and they said they are in the process of creating an app that will provide access to both.



By Charlotte Cody on Dec 15, 2010

There's an app in the App Store called, if I recall correctly, Secrets of iPad -- in fact, there's a free one: Secrets of iPad Lite. I think it will help with some of the early issues you're mentioning. I updated my app to include the new OS and found there were several new "secrets" mentioned relating to the new OS. One thing it will help with is the lack of arrows while typing -- there's a magnifying glass option which allows you to highlight the insertion point easier and click the screen there, so you can insert where you need to without having to erase and re-do everything.

I've had my iPad since inception -- last April -- and I absolutely love it! I got a "pay as you go" data plan from Virgin Mobil, but I don't recommend it. In fact, I strongly advise you to ignore it when searching for a data plan. I got another "pay as you go" (but with a 2-year contract) from Verizon, which is MUCH faster connection speed, very little loss of connection, and plenty of data available. (I got the 3GB/month plan for $35, which is far more data than I could possibly ever use.)

Hope these couple of tips help! And best of luck with your iPad -- I know you're going to come to feel like you don't know how you ever lived without it.


By Pam Butcher on Dec 16, 2010

I have found that saving files and accessing files on the iPad is most easily done via iDisk (the "cloud"). I can create and store content there, and access it via MobileMe from any device I happen to have access to. Apple requires a subscription to MobileMe, but it is less than $10/month and there is a free 60-day trial period to try it out before you subscribe.
I love my iPad, and I am so happy that I took the plunge.


By Kevin Bourquin on Dec 21, 2010

I totally agree with Drop box and Good reader. Drop box gives me access to files I need on multiple devices with simple drag and drop syncing


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