Getting the Most from an iPad
No doubt you've heard the hype and may be wondering: is an iPad worth the investment? After all, that's $500 to $800 you could invest in something else for your jewelry business – a decent camera, for example. But if you're on the road a lot, the iPad offers a compact way to track sales and inventory on the fly, handle email correspondence, do your reading on the plane, watch movies in your hotel room, and produce an impressive countertop slide show at craft shows – while adding only a pound and a half to your shoulder bag.
The iPad is a lot like an oversized iPhone, with similar apps and wifi access. It works beautifully in video format and as a reader, similar to Amazon's Kindle. But for artisans and small business owners, the most promising aspect of the iPad may be its organizational function. Similar applications and tools are available on iPhones but those are limited by size. A laptop, on the other hand, can be a tad bulky to carry around when you're out and about.
iPad Applications to Help You Run Your Jewelry Business
Preloaded: iWork is a version of the software package that comes loaded on a Mac computer – including Pages [http://www.apple.com/ipad/features/pages.html], a word processing application that works well for drafting letters and taking notes, and Numbers [http://www.apple.com/ipad/features/numbers.html], an intuitive spreadsheet program.
Useful applications to add: Bento for iPad [http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bento-for-ipad/id363230518?mt=8], a version of Filmmaker's organization system that comes with 25 ready-made database templates for organizing everything from contacts to upcoming events. You can also custom-design your own databases, allowing easy tracking of jewelry designs and online sales.
iPad accessories [http://www.apple.com/ipad/accessories/]: Apple's iPad Case ($39) is designed to protect your iPad, but it also folds into a stand you can keep on the counter at craft shows to run slide shows to help sell your jewelry. You can find cheaper versions on Amazon [http://www.amazon.com/Leather-Carrying-Cover-Built-tablet/dp/B003H0WQHU/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1277936416&sr=8-2] for about $6.
iPad Dock Connector: lets you connect to a projector of LCD display to share video presentations to a group.
IPad Keyboard: If you need to do more serious typing than the touch screen allows, Apple sells a charging dock combined with a full-size keyboard ($69). The iPad also works with Apple's wireless keyboard and less expensive Bluetooth keyboards [http://www.amazon.com/Menotek-Flexible-Bluetooth-Waterproof-Keyboard/dp/B003K1VABO/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1277936514&sr=1-3].
NET PROFITS appears regularly in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist. Learn more about how to use the iPad to help with your jewelry-making business in "iPads: Hype or Handy?" November, 2010.
Cathleen McCarthy is a freelance writer specializing in design, travel and business. Her stories have appeared in Town & Country, AmericanStyle, Art & Antiques, Washington Post, and her own site, The Jewelry Loupe. She has written for Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist since 1992.