I recently, finally purchased an iPad to evaluate for business use for SB Partners. I say “finally” because I knew if I got it earlier in the year it would become a huge distraction from bigger, priority projects. It, therefore, became a bit of reward….incentive to get other tasks completed faster. Sometimes we all need that.
And so, the new, much-hyped super-toy arrived, setup began and I was happy.
Back to business, my main criterion in evaluating this toy, errrrr, I mean tool, was to determine how user-friendly and productive the iPad is for our particular business…..whether it is a useful tool for different staff when working in the field. SB staff needs to be portable for a few reasons: off-site audits, off-site meetings, off-site presentations, monitoring email, and most of us occasionally work outside of regular business hours.
Generally, Partners and Managers have BlackBerrys or iPhones syncing their email, moving email lower in the list of evaluation priorities. All staff also have access to WebMail from any internet-accessible computer world-wide, and we have remote access tools like Citrix and VPN which allow us to work from outside the office as if we are in the office. The only thing missing is the noise on the other side of the cubicle walls.
So, what would an iPad add to or delete from the mix? All accounting staff have laptops already. The iPad would be lighter and smaller, but could certainly not replace the full functionality of a laptop, chiefly because most of our accounting software is not installable on the iPad. Our accountants also use two LCD monitors when in the office, so would find trying to do productive work from any kind of small tablet screen quite arduous.
But what about someone like me, monitoring and managing the network? Or the Director of Client Services and Business Development? She’s on the road as much as she’s in the office. Believe me, that most gracious lady is thrilled to get a home cooked meal after what seems like continual business breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Our CEO also needs to be fairly portable for attending community and business events where he is often addressing the members or attendees. Perhaps this smaller, more flexible tool would be useful to our three set of functions. I’ve now passed the iPad on for testing to our Director of Client Services and Business Development and I’ll be interested to hear her feedback in a few weeks.
In my world of IT, I often need to log onto our network from wherever I happen to be for a variety of reasons. For example, I recently got a call as I sat in line at the border heading south on vacation with my in-laws in the back seat. At that moment a tablet with roaming capabilities would have been really handy and quieter than me raising my voice into the Bluetooth microphone in my SUV to give instructions. But, and here is possibly the zinger, I like the BlackBerry PlayBook better, plus I think it’s more conducive to business use.
Instead of elaborating on this choice in prose, I leave you with the table below where I have done a side-by-side comparison of the iPad and the PlayBook. Please keep in mind these are my findings. I do not claim to be a tablet expert. My evaluation applies to my SB Partners environment and needs. Even so, I offer up my findings in hopes it they will give you, the reader, ideas to consider.
|Ergonomic||Book size, thicker||Bigger, thinner, (more awkward to hold sometimes)|
|Screen||Clear, bright, good contrast||Clear, bright, good contrast|
|Size||19.5 cm x 13cm||24cm x 18.5cm|
|Screen size||15.5cm x 9cm||19.5cm x 15cm|
|Weight||0.9 lbs||1.35 lbs|
|Ease of set up||Good||Good|
|Wi-Fi||Easy to connect||Easy to connect|
|Tethers to Blackberry SmartPhone via secure Bluetooth Bridge, don’t need a second plan or sharing plan. 4G ability coming in next version release.|
Note: when away from a Wi-Fi source, we normally have our smartphones with us anyway
|3G ready with data plan (shared data plans with smartphones have become available)|
|Syncing||Plugs into computer via a cord, then is like using a USB memory stick||Wireless sync when within the same network, however you have to move documents on a computer into a special folder, make sure the DocsToGo sync app is running on the computer, also make sure the same app is running on the iPad = cumbersome, and you have to be near the computer anyway|
Note: can also use the public “Cloud” which we do not employ at SB Partners
|Document editing (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)|
|DocsToGo included and faster to access||DocsToGo is a purchasable app and it takes more “clicks” to get into documents|
|Company E-mail (Exchange), including Contacts and Calendar||Needs Blackberry “Bridge” Bluetooth connection and must be in range of Exchange-enabled Blackberry SmartPhone (changing in the next version release)|
|Exchange syncs and email stays on device. Will not update if out of range of Wi-Fi without a 3G data connection|
email such as
HotMail, Gmail, Yahoo
|Easy access||Easy access|
|Email comments||Multiple icons on desktop makes for fast access to different accounts||One top level icon for all accounts, then need to flick between accounts, cumbersome|
|Player included||Player included|
|Other Videos||Great||No flash video native to device – cannot watch many kinds of video unless you pay for and install a 3rd party app|
|Multitasking||Excellent, easy (can minimize apps)||Poor, cumbersome (no minimizing)|
|Apps store||Blackberry Apps||iTunes|
|Security||Password protection, wipe after 10 bad password attempts, company email not on device when Blackberry is not in range|
|Password protection, wipe after 10 bad password attempts|
|Cameras, Video recorder|
|Front and back||Front and back|
|Citrix Receiver accessible|
|Adapters available for projectors and TVs with HDMI interface|
|Plays DVDs and CDs|