Well, this article is not only about the iPad but about other tablets in the market in general. Other tablets such as Samsung Galaxy Tab or Blackberry Playbook are instructive examples, too, but that is not my focus here.
For me, my iPad is probably one of the most useful tools in my practice. It helps me with the following:-
An internet enabled iPad is very useful for quick research. Imagine you’re in Court and you suddenly remember a case which would help your case. You can easily access legal publishing websites such as CLJ, Lexis-Nexis and even British and Irish Legal Information Institute (Baili). On a different note, Lexis-Nexis now has its own iPhone App. I understand that an iPad App for that will be out soon.
You can also store your basic cases and statues in your iPad. Since my practice is only limited to intellectual property matters, I keep a folder of relevant statues such as the Trade Marks Act 1976, Patents Act 1983, Copyright Act 1987, Industrial Designs Act 1996, Franchise Act 1998, Personal Data Protection Act 2010 etc. This allows you to access it quickly without internet connection.
With the right App (such as DropBox) or a proprietary software, you can access your files anywhere. Let say you need to look at a letter for a file, you can view straightaway it on your iPad.
I use DropBox to store my statues and legal cases – divided into various categories. For example, if I want to view a case regarding trade marks, I only need to access my Trade Marks folder.
Dropbox also synchronizes my folders in all my devices. To illustrate, the files that I keep in my PC will be the same as all the files in my iPad when I update the former.
If you have a little bit of money to spend, build a proprietary software or use a reputable software to make your files accessible remotely and securely.
But remember, everything that can be accessed on the internet, although secured by professionals, is not 100% secure. You wouldn’t want to end up like ACS:Law, a UK law firm who had some of their confidential information leaked online after its website was attacked.
The iPad allows you to take notes using its keyboard or even scribbling your notes on handwriting apps such as Penultimate. I have books and books of notes in my room. Some of these notes have no value and it’s a waste of paper.
Once you’re done with your notes, your can email them to yourself or anyone you like.
Recently, I met a potential client who wanted help on drafting an intellectual property license agreement. He had never seen such agreement before and my professional fee was a concern to him. He was probably thinking why should I pay so much for something I’ve never seen before?
I downloaded a 20 pages sample intellectual property license agreement into my iPad and showed him that such an agreement would look like this. That 20-page agreement was a great help to him to visualize the deliverables and of course, my fees. :D
Few months ago, my colleague printed a few copies of presentation slides and distributed them to some clients in a meeting. I suddenly thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool if he had distributed iPads with those slides?”. Imagine walking into a board meeting with 10 iPads in your hand to be distributed to the board of directors!
With screen sharing, a user can share his screen with others by connecting the devices wirelessly. Let’s say if you wish to refer to a passage in a case to a Judge, you can do so by sharing your screen with him (provided that the Judge has an iMac or iPad, which brings to say, “All Judges should have an iPad too!”).
Digital Text Converter
If you have iPad2, you can use it like a scanner by taking a picture of a document and then convert it to editable text using Apps like FotoNote. Very useful when you have some hardcopy precents that are too troublesome to be typed.
You can also convert written digital text into editable text using certain Apps like PhatPat.
iPad has basic GPS function. It gives you your real-life location and directions to a specific place. Although very basic, this function saved my skin numerous times when I needed directions to Court or finding my way out of Putrajaya and Cyberjaya.
There are many functions which I have not explored on my iPad. I’ve seen Apps which allow you to digitally sign on a document. I’ve also seen Apps which could turn your iPad into a fax machine to send and receive facsimile. It will also help you send the document by mail!
I only own an iPad hence I am unable to advise whether the other tablets are good. But if you’re looking for an iPad for work, my view is that a 16Gig and 3G+Wifi iPad2 is sufficient. iPad should be treated as a secondary device hence there is no point storing all your information inside. Also, with cloud computing, your data need not be stored in the iPad but in the “clouds”.
As for the best country to purchase an iPad, Malaysia has one of the lowest iPad prices.
As a closing note, iPad is a portable device. It is a light and easy to carry. It can easily be misplaced and lost. Therefore, security is very important. Make sure you password protect your iPad and ensure that MobileMe is installed. MobileMe allows you to wipe out your content if you lose your iPad.