Apple’s iPad can function as a standalone device without the need for a desktop PC, but the tablet is best used to extend and complement the functions of your home computer. The iPad’s built-in apps are sufficient for many tasks, and third-party apps can turn your tablet into a second monitor or let you access your PC’s desktop remotely.
Apple includes several apps preinstalled on the iPad. Web browsing is available through Safari, and the Mail app can be used to retrieve email, including any Exchange accounts you might use for work. The Calendar app stores your appointment information and syncs with the calendar app on your computer. Messages can be used to communicate with other iOS devices -- iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad -- as well as Mac computers.
Remote PC Access
Occasionally you may need the power of a desktop application, and apps are available that allow you to connect to a desktop PC remotely. This eliminates the need in some cases to purchase mobile versions of that particular software. There are several options including Citrix’s GoToMyPC and LogMeIn’s Ignition. These apps require installation of software on the host PC that translates touch commands on the iPad for the desktop PC. These apps charge a monthly or yearly fee for use.
Apple does not allow you to use the iPad as a second monitor right out of the box, but several third-party apps provide this feature. One solution is Avatron’s Air Display, available for $9.99. These apps trick your PC or Mac computer into thinking there is a second monitor, allowing you to use the extra screen real estate of the iPad to open and view additional apps. DisplayPad, iDisplay and MaxiVista are other apps available for this purpose and retail for between $4.99 and $9.99.
Storage space on the iPad is limited and syncing all your content to the tablet may not be feasible. Use a cloud service to enable access to documents from any device. Mac OS users can use iCloud, which is a free cloud service. Documents stored on iCloud can be easily accessed from any Apple device, including the iPhone and Mac computers. Other apps like Dropbox and Microsoft’s SkyDrive perform similar functions on both Windows and Mac computers, and include a considerable amount of space with a free account -- typically around 5GB.
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