Writing on the iPad is a delight when you use the Apple Bluetooth keyboard, and there are dozens of good writing apps.
Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983


Turning an iPad into a laptop, Part 3

June 26, 2011

Printing wirelessly from your iPad, part of 'What You Don't Know About the iPad'

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2011, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2011, The Post-Standard

Can you turn an iPad into a fully functioning laptop computer?

I would have said no a few months ago. But an accident knocked out my laptop during a long vacation, forcing me to switch everything -- all my writing, email, photo editing and much more -- over to my iPad.

The account of my adventure starts at www.technofileonline.com/texts/tec061211.html. You can read the first two articles in this series on my site.

Like many of you, I have a bunch of email accounts. The iPad's own email software picked up and organized the mail from all my accounts easily. Long emails were no problem.

I installed an app called GoodReader ($4.99) to handle non-photo email attachments. It's simply superb. (GoodReader and all the apps mentioned here are all available at the App Store.) Photo attachments can be viewed (and saved, if you want) right from a message.

Writing on the iPad is a delight when you use the Apple Bluetooth keyboard, and there are dozens of good writing apps and even a great desktop publishing app (Pages, $9.99). My choice for word processing and HTML writing was Textastic ($9.99). It's just about as good as any Windows or Mac text editor. For help while writing, I installed WordBook XL ($2.99), an online dictionary. It's better than anything I've seen for my Mac.

TextExpander ($4.99) provided macros that automated my HTML editing and my general writing. It deserves five stars for its powerful features, putting iPad writing and editing in the same league as Windows and Mac software.

Web browsing is handled nicely by the iPad's own browser, Safari. It can open multiple windows at the same time, does a good job with security and has all the standard modern browser features.

For Facebook, I used Friendly for Facebook (free), which organizes Facebook stuff far better than the standard Web method.

Google Earth (free) made virtual travel easy, and I loved the way I could tilt the iPad to soar off to one side or the other as I glided over the globe.

Bento ($4.99) gave me an easy and highly polished way to organize data and events. It's as slick as they come.

The iPad has a great built-in app for taking Notes, and I used its search function every day. Notes sync with notes on a Mac and with Outlook notes on a PC.

Photo editing was a joy. I preferred Photogene ($2.99) and Filterstorm Pro ($14.99), but there are so many other good photo apps that they deserve a review of their own, later this summer.