Tired of carrying around tons of books for reference or spiritual study?  Here is how I’ve lightened my load using the WiFi Apple iPad.

Both Kindle and iBooks bring a great experience to the iPad.  The display is gorgeous and makes it seem like you’re reading print on paper.  Both applications allow you to put white text on a black background for comfortable reading at night, allow you to adjust font size and typeface, annotate, highlight, and create bookmarks.  The ambient light sensor works well, adjusting the brightness for every situation that I have been in, except for direct sunlight.  While I could tell that there were icons on the screen, it did not seem really usable, as there was a lot of glare from surrounding objects, especially the yellow shirt I had on.  As of yet, iBooks is the only application that allows you to search within a book.  So far, I have only paid for one book, as there are tons of free books out there.  Note that Barnes & Noble has a reader out for the iPad, but I have not had time to use it.

Perhaps the greatest feature of the Kindle application, and the main reason why I prefer it over iBooks, is the ability to use your purchased books on up to six devices.  That means that you can download a book to your iPad, Windows PC, Mac PC, iPhone, Blackberry, and if rumors are correct, your Android phone later this summer.  The applications will synchronize your unread marks, last position, notes, annotations, and more, so you can pick up your reading at any time with any of your devices.

iBooks does have one advantage though – you can search within books.  The folks at Amazon state that search is coming to the iPad soon, and just recently made it available on iPhone.

While not an eBook, I use PDF files extensively, and many of my IT reference books come with PDF versions.  GoodReader for iPad allows you to wirelessly transfer PDF files to the iPad and read PDFs sent via e-mail or on websites.  You can modify the display so that it is plain text, copy passages out of PDFs, search with PDF files, and much more.  It is by far the best PDF reader I have seen.

There are tons of news applications available for the iPad, however I’ve limited myself to five applications: Editor’s Choice, Feeddler Pro, Fluent, NPR, USA Today.  Editor’s Choice from the New York Times and the USA Today application do a great job of simulating the experience of reading a real paper.  The layout is very similar to each of their front page layouts, and you can tap the article title to read more.  They’ll even work offline, although photos were unavailable offline.

With Feeddler Pro, a Google Reader client, you can synchronize before leaving WiFi coverage and read articles offline; keeping all of your other devices in sync so you do not have to re-read/re-mark articles as read on those devices.  It has a clean interface and allows you to view photos, share via e-mail/Facebook/Twitter, and more.

Fluent aggregates news from dozens of sources and presents it all in one place.  It even groups similar news stories together so that you have less to sift through.  A subscription is available that allows you to customize the news feed.

If you are a fan of NPR you need to check out the NPR application.  You can access program recordings and additional content from radio programs through the application.  It partially works in airplane mode, so you could read the text of content, however graphics may not appear.  You will also be prompted to check your internet connection.

With these applications, I get my news online and don’t subscribe to local newspapers or bind myself to local newscasts.

Spiritual Study
Since traveling to Cameroon in 2007, I have become a little better at spiritual study and wanted to find software that would allow me to study when the mood struck, not just at home or in a hotel room at specific times of day.  Enter Olive Tree’s BibleReader 4.  This iPad application allows you to purchase bibles, commentaries, religious ebooks, and more right from the application, and like the Kindle application, allows you to access your purchases on any mobile device you own.  I have the same material on my Android phone as well, so I can truly use it anywhere.  The only downside is that there is no desktop/laptop program yet.

How do you use your iPad to keep informed and lighten your load?