The short answer? Yes, you want one. But do you need one? That’s the real question, and the answer is a bit more complex.

The short answer? Yes, you want one. But do you need one? That’s the real question, and the answer is a bit more complex.

As a professional photographer, while it’s still necessary for me to have a printed portfolio, updates are expensive, space limited and can take weeks for design and printing. The iPad can be updated in seconds, and images and video look stunning.

I opted for the 32-gigabyte, Wi-Fi only version, as the main reason I bought it is to be able to show photos to clients and friends, and I already have a not-inexpensive data plan for my BlackBerry.

After a recent meeting with a local art director, she commented in an e-mail, “If I was looking for a job right now ... I would for sure present my work just like that.” Plus, there is the more intrinsic value added to my brand – the iPad makes my overall presentation more current and cutting edge.

The iPad is not much for creating anything beyond notes and e-mail – it’s decidedly a content consumption device – but for some people that will be enough. For me, the business uses alone make owning one worthwhile.

From an interface standpoint, if you’ve used an iPhone or iPod touch, you’ll be able to use the iPad instantly (they share an operating system). Also, the keyboard is far easier to use and responsive than I anticipated. Touch-typing is out though, as without any sensory feedback from the keys, it’s tough to know where each key ends without looking.

Unlike an iPod, you can’t enable disk use on the iPad. This means that you cannot drag and drop files like photos, documents and pdfs to it – the iPad only interfaces with iTunes.

In order to get pdf files onto the iPad, I had to download a free pdf reader app, make sure the computer and iPad were on the same network, then upload the files from my computer and they then appeared on the iPad.

One cool business-friendly app that should be up and running shortly is the credit card processing app Square. Square will allow me to take credit card payments instantly as long as I’m online (once they send me the free card reader).

I just can’t shake the feeling that at the moment, the hardware is a bit ahead of the software though, as there are some things I’d love to be able to do but can’t yet. And I think that “yet” is the key word here – I really believe that six months from now, I’ll have a dozen uses for it that I don’t currently have.

For example, I’d love to be able to tether it to my camera to be able to display images immediately after capture for subjects and clients to see, but the apps for that don’t yet exist. Also, after I downloaded the GQ magazine app with the latest issue, one of the pages advised me that there was more content available on the magazine’s Web site. But if I wanted to view that content, I’d have to go find it myself in a web browser.

Also, while the iPad will run iPhone apps, when you do so they appear the size of the iPhone screen in the center of the iPad. Eventually there will be iPhone and iPad versions of each app – the software makers just haven’t caught up yet.

From an entertainment standpoint, the iPad really shines. Being able to lay in bed and watch “Modern Family” on ABC’s app without having to use a laptop is great.

I’ve downloaded quite a few apps, but have found a few to be really excellent, including the aforementioned ABC Player. The New York Times, Bloomberg and MLB At Bat 2010 apps are all winners as well.

Another highlight is in battery life. Apple advertises it at 10 hours, and I’ve found that to be true.

While the hardware is currently outpacing the software, I imagine this gap will be shrunk, if not eliminated, in the coming months – just in time for the Christmas shopping season.

The Patriot Ledger