Julio Ojeda-Zapata’s iPad Life

Please welcome Julio Ojeda-Zapata a Minnesota based technology journalist.

Tell me a little about yourself, what do you do, where do you live?

I’m a technology writer at the St. Paul Pioneer Press, a newspaper in Minnesota’s fine capitol. I cover consumer tech, both as a traditional reporter and as a tech-product reviewer. My Tech Test Drive column is published every Sunday, and I also maintain a tech blog called Your Tech Weblog.

What was your reaction when the iPad was launched?

I was initially underwhelmed. There had been a lot of rampant speculation about how Apple would roll out some kind of new interface or approach to touch-screen computing, so when the iPad was unveiled, it struck me (as it did others) as just a big iPod Touch. Big whoop. When they did the iWork demo, though, I went, ‘hmmm, this thing could actually be useful.’ That was essentially the inspiration for my upcoming book, iPad Means Business, which is a business book focused on the iPad’s work and productivity implications.

Which model did you order and why?

I don’t currently own an iPad, though I anticipate buying one eventually. I have a couple of iPads on loan from Apple for book research as well as my Pioneer Press tech writing. I am almost done with my book, so the iPads are headed back to Cupertino shortly (one is going out tomorrow). The iPad I buy will probably be a second-generation model.

How are you using the iPad on a daily basis?

I use the iPad for staying on top of important information (e-mail, RSS feeds, Twitter, and so on) when I am not at one of my home or work computers. I’m buffeted by a LOT of stuff on an hourly basis, so the iPad keeps me sane. The tablet is also my TV. I do a lot of Netflix and Hulu on it, and I also watch lots and lots of TV in the form of video files recorded on my Macs via Elgato EyeTV tuners. I have this routine down to a science. This is how I stay on top of all my favorite TV shows, such as “The Event” and “The Big Bang Theory.” When I travel, the iPad becomes more of a productivity device for writing and so on. One of the chapters in my book is a blow-by-blow account of one such business trip.

Can you give me a quick run down of the apps that you use the most?

In addition to the aforementioned Hulu and Netflix, I use LogMeIn ignition for remote access to work and home computers; Amazon’s Kindle for reading (not just on the iPad, but via Kindle apps for other devices); Pandora for music; Read It Later for catching up with stuff I saved on my computers for future reference; Twitterific and the official Twitter app; Reeder for RSS; Simplenote for writing that gets automatically synced to other devices; Skype for voice calls via a USB headset and Apple USB adapter; Evernote for access to my Web clippings and other saved information; Dropbox for access to important stuff saved in the cloud; and the Boston.com Big Picture app for looking at gorgeous photography.

Which app is your favorite?

Probably Simplenote since it’s so simple, elegant and powerful. I’d add Netflix to the list since I am so reliant on that service, but its iPad app is an eyesore. It needs a aesthetic overhaul.

Do you have any bag/stand/case recommendations for people?

I think I am in a minority here, but I like Apple’s own iPad case. It can be paired with WaterField Design’s Exo SleeveCase for added protection. An alternate strategy is WaterField’s new iPad Wallet, which is a padded case with pockets for an iPad and Apple’s wireless keyboard, and room for other stuff. You can then stash the Wallet in your backpack, or attach the bundled shoulder strap and use it that way. Griffin Technology makes a bunch of different stands, and they’re all good. The Compass by Twelve South is another excellent option. ItÕs a rod-like piece of metal that pulls out of its tube-like carrying case and expands into a tripod-like configuration to serve as an elegant stand for the iPad in portrait or landscape. It is beautiful.

What features do you want to see in a future iPad?

The one thing I really, really miss when traveling for business with an iPad is doing video conferences with my son. I crave a front-facing cam for some FaceTime with the kid. I gotta have that. I’ll scream if the second-generation iPad doesn’t have it.

Are you not buying an iPad because you hope the new versions are coming out soon?

I have no idea when new iPads will be released (I’m guessing they’ll be announced in January and released later) nor do I have a firm timetable for buying one. I’m in standby mode until second-generation models arrive in the hope that they have the features I want (especially a front-facing camera for video chatting) and I’ll likely wait a while beyond the next-gen release just to be sure Apple is not shipping a buggy product.

How will not having an iPad change the way you work?

As a tech writer who evaluates a continual stream of products, I have to remain highly flexible and adapt to whatever device I have in-house for testing. The Galaxy Tab is likely the next tablet I’ll have on loan for review, so that will be my primary work device for a bit, shifting my attention away from the iPad. Likewise, I am currently evaluating Windows Phone 7, which has shifted my attention away from the iPhone, and I am writing this on one of the new MacBook Air portables, which I also have in for review. Since I have a cloud-based work system, with all my stuff stored on Dropbox, Google Apps and so on, migrating from device to device is straightforward.

Thanks again to Julio for taking the time to give us a little insight into his iPad life. Be sure to follow him on Twitter.

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Originally posted for members on: November 8, 2010
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