Yeah, I got an iPad.

My main use for an iPad is for the things it’s very good at: My kids watch videos and play games on it, I read books and news and watch baseball games. It’s good for email, great for internet, and you already know all that.

One of the things I had hoped, though, is that I could use it for “real” work: Word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations, using Apple’s iWork apps.  Having taken a look at two of the three: Not so much.

Don’t expect the iPad versions of Pages or Keynote to be very useful.  These are not the full-fledged versions that Jobs sold them as; they’re stripped down mobile versions, missing critical features.  They have a limited number of fonts. (Pages doesn’t have Times New Roman, which is about as basic as you can find. I take it back; Times New Roman is there. But when I imported a document in, I got an error message saying that it didn’t have the font Times New Roman.  No idea why. Symbol is not there, which is a definite problem for people working with alpha-herpesviruses or alpha-beta T cells and so on.) They can’t handle some media types. I don’t know which ones, but a simple presentation I imported into Keynote was riddled with question marks where it couldn’t render images.

(I see that Chris Anderson at The Unofficial Apple Weblog reaches the same conclusion about Keynote.)

The various ways for syncing documents are clumsy and awkward.  I am still hoping that there will be some kind of shared folder eventually that, say, Dropbox can use; but for now you have to drag things back and forth individually.

If you start a document on the iPad, I’m sure it will look fine.  But if you have some documents on your computer, and you’re thinking you’ll be able to use the iPad to work on them down at the coffee shop or on your deck, don’t be too confident.

It’s not a dealbreaker for me, but if you need an iPad for real work, don’t count on this release of iWorks.