Have you ever wanted to jet off on a business trip or head home for the weekend with just your iPad? Now you can. When it first emerged, Apple’s tablet wasn’t meant to be a PC replacement. But a slew of new apps and accessories for the device make it possible to accomplish everything from editing documents and tweaking photos to blogging and creating movies. Here’s what you need in your arsenal to leave that notebook behind.
Adobe Ideas ($9.99)
True to its name, Adobe Ideas is a sketchbook app for iPad that lets users draft, capture and explore new ideas. The interface is sparse—the app uses a blank slate and a single brush with size, opacity and color adjustments—but a plain, white canvas is all you need when inspiration strikes. You can also use vectors, layers and color themes within the app and upload your ideas to Adobe’s Creative Cloud to access them anywhere.
Avid Studio ($4.99)
Avid Studio brings professional-quality video editing to the iPad, including fades and dissolves, motion titles and picture-in-picture effects. The straightforward interface and intuitive gestures make it a cinch to create projects, while the multiple direct-sharing options (email, Facebook, YouTube) enable you to show off your creation with just a few taps.
There are multiple blogging apps for the iPad, but Blogsy is the best. Supporting such popular blog platforms as Blogger, WordPress and Posterous, Blogsy lets you easily create new entries—including scheduled drafts and pending-review posts. The app incorporates such rich text formatting as bolding, italicizing and even dragging and dropping pictures and links into your entry. Rather code in HTML? You can do that from the text editor.
Dragon Dictation (Free)
Nuance’s Dragon Dictation for the iPad is a top-shelf voice recognition app that will wow you with its accuracy and promises to be up to five times faster than typing on the iPad’s keyboard. The interface is as sparse as can be—tap on the big button to start recording and tap again to end it. But you can dictate anything from reminders and notes to emails and social networking updates.
Dropbox lets you access documents, photos and videos anywhere you bring your tablet. After installing the program on your PC, all the files you save to your target folder get synced across your computers, tablets and phones, as well as the Dropbox site. A “Favorite” option for offline viewing, the ability to share docs and photos with others and saving email attachments straight to the app make this a must-have tool.
Put simply, GoodReader is the best option for reading documents on your iPad. It supports nearly every type of media for easy viewing on your tablet, whether it’s MS Office documents, PDFs, images, audio or video. The app can also stow away files neatly within its left-hand panel. With robust tools to sync entire folders and individual files to Dropbox, iDisk, SugarSync and any FTP server, GoodReader is an essential app.
HootSuite for iPad (Free)
Think of Hootsuite for iPad as a social networking one-stop shop for your tablet. With this app, you can post and schedule updates for Facebook and Twitter, check in to places via Foursquare, track stats and even monitor keywords and lists. You can also manage your LinkedIn profile and view the activity of your connections.
Our favorite photo-editing app for tablets couldn’t be easier to use. Just touch the part of the picture you want to edit, and swipe vertically or horizontally to make adjustments. You can change everything from brightness and ambiance to contrast and white balance with your finger. Add in a wide array of filters and robust sharing capabilities (AirPrint, email, Facebook, Flickr or Twitter) and you have a winner.
Splashtop HD ($4.99)
This superior remote access app lets you use all of your desktop apps as well as listen to music and stream videos in high resolution. Just download a lightweight companion app for your PC and create a security code. Even better, the app doesn’t require a subscription—there’s just a one-time fee, after which you’ll be able to enjoy limitless remote desktop access.
Adonit Jot Mini ($21.99)
Want to take notes on your iPad? Pick up the Jot Mini, which has a fine tip with a clear plastic disc right at the end. This way, you can actually see what you’re sketching—a welcome alternative to those fat nubs most capacitive styli sport. The pen’s aluminum-and-steel design make it durable, and it comes with a protective cap.
Belkin YouType Folio Keyboard ($99)
A combination keyboard and case, the Belkin YouType Folio Keyboard protects your iPad with a soft inner lighting and provides multiple viewing angles with its integrated adjustable stand. A spring mechanism beneath each key provides great tactile feedback, and you can even remove the keyboard when you want to kick back and type.
Logitech Speaker Stand for iPad ($69.99)
The pleasingly minimalist Logitech Speaker Stand for the iPad can boost your tablet’s sound while charging the device and letting you prop it up at just the right angle for work. The arm holds your iPad securely in place and can rotate 90 degrees, so you can use the Speaker Stand in either portrait or landscape mode.
For the most basic, lightweight and portable keyboard possible for the iPad, check out the silicone/rubber Touchfire. This soft and flexible overlay for the iPad keyboard weighs less than one ounce and rolls up when not in use. Tiny magnets hold down this touch typist’s dream come true, and this keyboard cleans up with running water.