Readers' favorite uses for the iPad

CNET readers' top 10 ways they have found nirvana with Apple's tablet.

Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.
Brooke Crothers
3 min read

I'm still trying to divine the true nature of the tablet, and the iPad in particular. But instead of trying to foist my opinion on readers, I'll let others do the talking since a lot of people seem to disagree with me--especially when I assert that the iPad has yet to find a solid, useful niche for me.

Before, the iPad sat in its keyboard dock next to my laptop on my desk. Not anymore. Now, it's a regular fixture on the passenger car seat--Google Maps is a major reason. Brooke Crothers

Before I jump to reader input, though, let me say up front that I use a MacBook Air (a three-pound ultraportable) as my main computer (along with a Verizon MiFi 3G Mobile Hotspot when I'm traveling) and own an iPhone 3GS. So, I'm guessing I'm a little more challenged to find a niche for my iPad than some.

Anyway, here is a sampling of reader comments from a May 23 post: "iPad caveat: Solution seeking a problem."

Audio system/cookbook: "I decided to flush mount the iPad into my mom's kitchen wall...the iPad became the ultimate song storage and categorized jukebox. We could search for any song, show album art, show full lyrics, and buy a new song whenever we wanted through Wi-Fi. We use apps like epicurious for recipes plus I scanned all of her old recipes in as pictures...Perfect for the kitchen. That is where the iPad belongs."

Productivity: "File management--get Goodreader (misnamed horribly), which allows you to maintain a folder/file structure, import documents from the cloud, and open documents in appropriate applications, such as pages. 2: PrintCentral--print to a wifi printer or a USB printer...3: TaskPro or Todo Queue for task management. 4: iThoughtsHD--a terrific mind mapping application."

Students: "I'm a student, and the iPad is great for me. I find it much more comfortable to study on the iPad rather than on a laptop screen. I take notes on my laptop, but then study them on my iPad. Before I got it, I printed out hundreds of pages of notes and PowerPoint slides and had to carry around large binders. I know the iPad isn't for everyone, but I love it."

Kids: "My kid enjoys the iPad so much. Actually enjoy reading Tintin (search for it) and Spiderman on it...I also noticed my kid having completed almost 3/4 of Treasure Island too in the last 2 weeks."

On the can: "Don't discount (it as a) toilet pc--how's the complete works of Shakespeare, the NY Times, movies you can actually see, and a healthy chunk of your music collection strike you?"

On the plane: "The iPad is also light and its battery life is longer than an average laptop, at least long enough to survive most flights. I don't have to look for an electric outlet for extended use. Its browsing experience is much better than a smartphone at least. So far I find the iPad an adequate replacement (for) a laptop when traveling for pleasure."

Laptop replacement: "The iPad has replaced my laptop on the road. Does everything I want or need it to do...and I have read more books and magazines, played more games and watched more movies in the last month than I have in the last year!"

Artistic application: "Everyone who loudly proclaims that the iPad is not a workhorse is merely looking at their personal work situation and not seeing the wider world out there...I am an artist and the iPad is a brilliant sketch book. In fact I find it ideal whenever I have early ideas to get down whether that is music, poetry, mind mapping a new Web site design, and jotting down notes for my book. Would I try to make a finished painting on it or write a book?--no, but the best computer one has (always) is the one that is with you at the time."

Restaurant menu: "Seriously though--a good idea for iPad is to use it as a menu in a posh restaurant. Customers select what they want and the Wi-Fi beams it to the kitchen for the chef. It won't be long before someone attempts this.

Coffee table: "I own a MacBook Pro and both my wife and I own the iPhone 3gs. The iPad sits on our coffee table in front of the television. It gets used constantly...I love it as an e-reader...My wife loves to check her e-mail and casually browse shopping websites while on the couch...My 15-year-old son loves using it to check his Facebook page and play a few games.