In keeping up with my sporadic running monolog on the iPad as a photographic tool...
Two items of consideration:
1. An iPad "pen". This is a pen-like gizmo that allows you to write and draw on the screen of the iThings. The tip is a rubbery foam hemisphere and is electrically connected to the metal body of the pen itself. Essentially, it becomes a smaller, pen-shaped version of your finger. Mine came from Best Buy, but others are available through various sources. I highly recommend it, although, "typing" on the screen is still better (or not as horrid) as trying to punch the "keys" with the pen. Depending on quality and source, these run $15-20 USD.
2. Air Display. This is a two-part program. One part of it is the app which runs in the iPad and the driver is installed on the computer--either Mac or Windows PC. The driver fools the computer into thinking there is another monitor attached and transmits the screen-data to the iPad effectively making it another display. Performance is totally dependant upon your wireless connection, though. On a standard 802.11G network with no other traffic flowing over it, screen updates are snappy and only slightly lag behind. The image-quality on the iPad screen is exceptional. Ctein wrote about this app a while back and I fully concur with his assessment. $9.99 USD.
I mention both of these items together for a reason. Air Display isn't just a monitor mirroring program, but also is a mouse input program. So, that "pen"? Yup, it's an active input device. Here is how it goes for me: I open up Picture Window Pro and stretch the application across both displays. Then I open up my image file for spot editing (like cloning, painting, drawing masks, etc) and move that picture over to the iPad display. With the pen I'm able to work on the iPad in almost an identical to using the Wacom pen/tablet, but the difference is that I'm drawing directly on the image itself! When using the Wacom you have hand-eye coordination issues to contend with, but with the iPad you don't have to suffer from that issue. It's not "perfect" but is a whole lot better than I could have imagined. For performance reasons, I will try Air Display in ad-hoc network mode to avoid hammering the WiFi network and dealing with contention with the other users in the house.
So, here is how it comes down. Even if you didn't use the iPad for ANYTHING else, for $530 USD plus taxes, etc., you have yourself a high-image quality (but small and slow) touch-screen monitor. The lowest cost Wacom Cintiq is $999 and is nowhere near color accurate. The high-end Cintiq is $1999 and is much better. If you can afford the Wacoms, definitely buy the Wacoms!
By themselves, neither product goes beyond 3.5 lenscaps on the Zone-10 0-5 scale, but when used in combination, this a full-blown 5 lenscap recommendation! If you are looking for that one "killer app" that justifies the purchase of an iPad for you, just maybe this is it.
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