I succumbed to Apple mania and bought an iPad Saturday from the Apple Store about four miles from home. I phoned first to see if the iPad was in stock (it wasn’t at either of two Best Buys in Tulsa), and — since I had tried to buy one the day before from Apple, knew it had been unavailable Friday. Lo and behold, a shipment must have arrived!

A very nice young lady, CrystalRose Stewart by name, welcomed me to Apple, gave me a brief tour of the iPad, sold me one, along with a separate keyboard (I had already tried the onscreen keyboard, probably fine for many, however not for me: I like the tactile feel of keys) and had me out of the store in about 45 minutes. She also signed me up for the Apple Business Team, and invited me to an upcoming free lesson re: word processing and/or spreadsheets.

The Apple Store, by the way, was packed with shoppers — there could easily have been 50 or more people mulling about, and this at 5 o’clock on a Saturday afternoon! This augurs well for Apple and reminds me of the old tenets about investing from Peter Lynch — he was big on seeing what was happening in the malls and based on the number of shoppers I see at Apple stores, I’ll bet he has a large position in Apple stock.

By 5:05 p.m., I’m out in the parking lot and on my way to Borders, to begin the weekend digestion of Barron’s and to check for new investing and finance books. Instead of making notes as usual — by hand in a black binder or on a legal pad — I set up the iPad and keyboard, right after I order my drink. I was able in five or six minutes to begin making notes on the iPad. It worked very, very well, and clearly makes it much easier to store (and retrieve) information. If you were familiar with my handwriting hen scratching, you’d understand what I mean.

I could easily e-mail my notes to my home and office computers as Word or PDF files, a process that strangely almost didn’t require thought, kind of zip, bam, boom process.

In my judgment, the iPad resolves my need for a laptop — mine was stolen from my office not long ago — and it seems to really have a 10-hour battery life. I took notes for two days, about a total of 3-1/2 hours, give or take. I did some work on Monday morning and then turned it over to my wife, who wanted to try a game on it, and, when I handed it to her, it reported that it had something like 56% of its battery life left. The screen is great and if you can use an iPhone, you’ll have no problems with the iPad.

I bought Pages (a word processor) and Numbers (a spreadsheet program) for I think around $20 and that was the entire story. I did not go for the 3G network version, since I have all the network stuff on my iPhone, and can access e-mail from there. The wireless works fine at home, Borders, or Barnes & Noble. Life is better. It’s one of these products that makes one wonder how he or she got along without it before. There are a zillion more things one can do with iPad (I did a very fast Internet search Monday morning, for example), and I’ve only discussed a very few here.

Have a sensational week!

Check out more blog entries from Richard Hoe.