I get asked for advice on iPads a lot, and as a fair few people I know have just bought an iPad (or are thinking about buying one) then I thought I would articulate the thought processes I go through when making a decision about what to buy and what apps to install once I have bought it.

There are only three real decisions to make:

  1. What size of device do you want?
  2. Wifi only or wifi and 4g?
  3. How much storage space?

Currently I have a 16gb iPad mini that I carry everywhere and use for reading, internet access, and writing blog posts when I do not have my MacBook Air with me. I also have a 16gb retina iPad provided by my employers, which I use for accessing work email on the go, and taking notes in meetings. Both of these are wifi only, and both were the absolute bottom of the range when they were bought.

These devices match what I need them for fairly closely, as long as I have my phone with me to use as a tethering device to get online. They are both under 4gb away from being full though, and my work iPad has very little storage space left because I have been using it to film footage for a video we are currently making. I can certainly see a case for me buying something with a lot more storage, which would mean I could carry a fair amount of music and films with me and not have to rely on hotel wifi to access entertainment when I am travelling.

I would consider a 4g connection more seriously if it was not that both home and work have excellent wifi coverage, and that I have the ability to tether my iPad to my phone. There are very few places where I can’t get a decent connection, so I don’t see it as a priority right now.

As far as size goes, I think it’s just a matter of preference. I prefer reading on my iPad mini, and it is a lot easier to carry everywhere. I do prefer typing on the full size iPad though, and I think that it is the right choice for taking notes in meetings.

I also get asked a lot about apps, and thought I’d list a few that I use quite a lot:

  • Evernote, which I use to record everything I do, make notes at meetings, and which acts as the repository for all sorts of useful information.
  • Gmail and Good, for personal and work email. I find myself doing most of my email on my iPad now, because the interfaces are so much nicer.
  • Twitter, Facebook and G+ for all my social media needs.
  • Kindle app, which is on every device I use, and which lets me read books and PDFs wherever I am.
  • Dropbox, Google Drive and Copy, which are all cloud storage systems, but which I use for different things. I find Copy to be good for PDFs that are too large for the Kindle app, and the other two allow me to access everything I’m currently working on elsewhere.
  • VLC for playing media files, both locally and streamed from my NAS.
  • Spotify – for playing music I don’t own, but want to listen to occasionally.
  • BBC iPlayer, ITV player, Amazon Cloud player and Netflix for catch-up TV and streaming films and TV shows.
  • Keynote, which I use to write and deliver presentations at work.
  • Sunrise – which I find to be the best calendaring app around.

There are other things, but I think this covers the (non-default) apps I use most.