What does the iPad 3 mean for Technical Authors? Part 2: Hardware

In yesterday’s post, we looked at the iPad as a medium for delivering User Assistance. In this post, we’ll look at the iPad’s hardware, with a view for it being used by Technical Authors to create User Assistance.  In further posts, we’ll look at iPad software Technical Authors can use.

iPad as a tool for Technical Authors

With prices starting at £329, the iPad is what QVC calls “a considered purchase”. Unless your heart rules your head, you’ll take a moment to think what else you could buy with your hard earned cash. Having said that, there’s enough people are buying iPads to make it the hottest piece of technology around.

As a device, the iPad is well balanced, very tactile and, let’s face it, cool. It’s also robust, able to take a lot of knocks and bumps.

The iPad makes for a lightweight companion – it weighs in at 650gms. However, if you’re you’re writing for long periods of time you’ll probably also need the external keyboard. So realistically, the weight is around 1.1kg, which is roughly the same as the 11.6″ Macbook Air and other Ultrabooks. Remember, Ultrabooks are at least double the price of an iPad; if you were to buy a £400 notebook, then you’d be lugging around at least 3kg.

The iPad’s retina display not only make images stunning, it also reduces the amount of eyestrain caused by looking at screen for long periods of time. If you find you can write for only a limited amount of the day, then the iPad may be the solution for you.

If you’re working at a desk, then, in addition to an external keyboard, you would probably want a stand for the iPad. If you wanted to connect the iPad to a VGA screen, then you’d also need to purchase Apple’s £25 VGA adapter cable.

The iPad has a built-in camera, which means you’re able to take high quality photos of programmers’ whiteboard scribbles, and make ad-hoc video or audio recordings of brain dumps from subject matter experts. The camera can also take high quality images of products and any components.

The iPad does not have a slot for SD cards or USB stick, so external storage is only available ‘in the cloud’.

Battery life is very impressive, at around 10 hours.

If you’re not tied to a desk (i.e. you do work in more than one single location) then the iPad delivers as a lightweight portable device. Even if you are tied to a desk, then it still may be worth considering for those who suffer from eye strain.

3 Replies to “What does the iPad 3 mean for Technical Authors? Part 2: Hardware”

  1. To me, control over apps and storage is important, and coolness isn’t. So I’ve taken the same amount of money, the same weight (around 1 kg, including the keyboard) and a little more height to get myself a eeePC 1016 netbook, incl. Win7 Pro.

    It’s about as easy on my shoulder and carry-on luggage, let’s me write as much as I want, gives me more control over storage (incl. HDD, SD and USB) and the mic & web cam are easily sufficient for videos and skyping.

  2. They look great but i don’t think we are in a Post-PC world just yet. I can’t seriously believe that you could do real, actual, tech writing work on this – other than using it as a test platform for ebook output.

    Apart from the small form factor, are there versions of the common tools tech writers use? I can see IPads being great for managers etc. but for those of us who actually produce stuff (writers, graphic designers, developers etc.) I think the IPad will be of limited use.

    Plus they are made in factories where conditions are so bad people have committed suicide. I’m sorry but I don’t want any part of that – no matter how cool (or even useful) it may be.

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