Recycled Computing

Using Your iPad as a Writing Tool

- 2011.03.22

Sure you can watch movies, surf the Internet, listen to your tunes, play games, and have the coolish electronic tech - but can you use the iPad to do anything?

Well, let's just try something I'm always doing on a computer - writing. Let's just get one thing straight: the onscreen keyboard will not cut it. It's really only for brief writing such as emails or posting to a blog or social site.

If you want to type on the iPad, you have to have an external keyboard. You need to have physical keys to press against, and I don't know about you, but touch typing with your fingers perched in the air above the iPad is an exercise in torture.

ZAGGmate iPad Case
The ZAGGmate iPad Case

I went out and got a ZAGGmate iPad Case, which contains a Bluetooth keyboard. My logic in the purchase of the ZAGGmate was that it didn't add much to the size of the iPad, and I could place the iPad in either the horizontal or vertical position. The Bluetooth keyboard is easy to pair with the iPad and easy to charge (my phone uses the same Micro USB plug).

The ZAGGmate has some points which can be off putting. The keyboard is compact, and your palms will rest on the case (which some others might find sharp). The case only protects the front of the iPad, and I am told that the aluminum case scratches easily.

All of that seems minor compared to the compact size and ease of use. Whatever keyboard you get, the Notes app can be used as a primitive word processor (next week I'll pick up Pages for the iPad), and so far the ZAGGmate's keyboard works great with Notes.

PaperDesk for the iPad
PaperDesk for the iPad

You can also use dictation software to input text to the iPad. I'm using Dragon Dictation, a free app from the App Store, to write this paragraph. It's sort of okay, but it really doesn't show you what you have dictated until you are finished. Needless to say, this paragraph needed a lot of editing. You get what you pay for, but for those folks on the move, dictation software is another way to write on an iPod.

The real reason I couldn't stop myself from buying the iPad was the note-taking software PaperDesk, another app from the App Store. With the touchscreen interface, I can not only type on the page, but draw diagrams and upload my notes to Google Docs. I can then make my notes available to others through a shared folder. I'm including a PDF of the PaperDesk note so you can see what all the fuss is about.

Sent from my iPad LEM

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