Some impressions while using iPad for academic work
I have been using ipad with my fedora powered five year old notebook and I think it is working well even without iTunes as long as I can get my get my notebook connected with my iPad over wifi. My laptop does not have bluetooth, but I found that with a combination of goodreader app and local wifi and using several WebDAV servers and with services like Dropbox and Evernote I can read pdfs, transfer files and pictures and sync with web services and write short blog posts. For accessing the iTunes store I can work directly from iPad.
I use iPad mostly for academic and PDF reading, music and video access and for that i tend to integrate services like Dropbox, WebDAV servers, local wifi, and PDF readers in the iPad. So far for me this is sufficient to get my work done. I will not replace my notebook with a device like ipad but will continue to use it as a supplementary device that stays with me wherever I go. I am going go use my notebook for academic writing, data analysis, complex editing and programming jobs, use plaintext and markdown format as much as possible to use with implementation like simplenote or Evernote or plain email for pushing stuff to my blog or keep bookmarks in got-project like solutions.
An interesting example of a really useful web app in the context of academic paper writing and reading is the wizfolio web app. I use Mendeley for my reference management and was looking for if there might be a Mendeley app to work with in iPad, I could not find one, but instead discovered wizfolio that can play very nicely with both Mendeley and web based collection of scholarly literature so that if needed I can transfer my reference lists over web from my Mendeley database and wizfolio and sync with documents. I have completely brought all my PDF collections to web services and use iPad to read and annotate my PDFs. I use the really nice iannotate iPad app for reading and marking up my PDFs and then transfer the notes over email of wifi to my notebook for integrating with my word processor programme.
Thus a combination of file management apps like goodreader, PDF annotators or readers like iannotate (but in fact any free PDF reading app even goodreader will do), WebDAV services (for example mydrive.ch but something like Dropbox will do as well), syncing files through local wifi or through these various other services and using wizfolio it is quite possible to develop a work plan of building and referring to your PDF collection and reading them distraction free while working on an important piece of work on your notebook computer and syncing the files over web. In fact what may even be really useful is to write the paper in plain text with perhaps latex or markdown format and then using software like pandoc to convert the markdown file to word processors. That way, with the lightweight device such as iPad, one can carry one’s entire library with one as one moves, and can start darting or writing papers or reports virtually anywhere as long as one is connected to the web. Again, depends on circumstances. A web app that I’d be personally interested to see is a web based implementation of R statistical programming language that will enable anyone to load data from a website or database and run stats and graphics on the web directly from one’s iPad without really “installing” anything like app for that matter.