I took the iPad to a conference today. I left the MacBook Pro at home. Total happiness. I picked up a wireless keyboard to go with the iPad. I was able to carry the iPad and keyboard in a portfolio case. The case is not iPad specific. In fact, I received the case before the iPad came out. It was really nice to not have to carry a large, heavy bag. However, the biggest key was that I didn’t have to look for a spot to sit next to a power outlet. So, I got to sit down front between the screen and the presenters. The portfolio was inconspicuous. So far, so good. The conference finally started. It was really convenient to pull out the keyboard and leave the iPad sitting on top of the portfolio. I tried a couple of programs. First I went with PaperDesk. I like PaperDesk as it syncs to a web site and has VGA out. However, I had no Wifi connection (urgg, another conference with no internet) and no need for VGA output. PaperDesk is really limited in terms of formatting. On to Pages for iPad. I did a select all in PaperDesk, copy, and paste into Pages. (At this point, the person next to me said, “I like the lines better”. PaperDesk looks like a sheet of legal paper.) I was happily typing along. There was a lull in the presentation (there were several of those), and I went back to PaperDesk. At some point, I decided to try one of my favorite keyboard shortcuts | Option | 8. I learned this long ago in ClarisWorks (it might have been AppleWorks- the first iteration). This shortcut creates a bullet. Somewhat to my surprise, it worked. Although there are no options to create a bullet in PaperDesk, a quick keyboard shortcut, and there was my bullet point. Even better, the same shortcut works in Pages and actually creates a bullet – ie. hitting return automatically creates a bullet on the next line.
I finished taking my notes in Pages. Note that the normal keyboard shortcuts (Apple | X, Apple | C and Apple | V) all work nicely. One more tip: pressing the Eject key toggles the virtual keyboard. Even better, you can type on both keyboards at the same time.
Anyway, I finished the notes and came home. Once home, I emailed the notes to my boss.
I’m really happy with the iPad and external keyboard experience at the conference. I was able to take notes all day without worrying about the battery dying. (That alone is huge!). I also didn’t feel like I was toting around 50 pounds of gear. No extra battery. No shoulder bag. Just a small portfolio. Happiness.