There is a microphone on the amazing iPad and it is situated next to the 3.5mm jack socket for the earphones. You can use it with any of the iPad applications that allow you to take audio notes for example Voice memos, Audio Boo, Evernote, Caster, iTalk and you can use it with the Skype application if you are connected by WiFi.
Connecting an external mic to an iPad
It has to be said though, that the audio quality of the recording is not great. So what about connecting an external mic? Well yes you can do that. It used to be possible to do it by using the camera connector from Apple which gives you a USB socket. I tried a USB condenser microphone a Samson C03U, but that needed too much power according to the message that popped up, so didn't work with it.
Next I tried a Zoom H2 recorder, which can save sound files onto a SDHC card but I was able to successfully connect to the iPad. But then there was an update to the iOS to 4.2 and it stopped working. All that is seen now is a message saying that the USB device requires too much power. This is despite the fact that the Zoom was plugged into the mains electric.
What about the recording quality of the audio? Honestly the in built iPad Microphone is quite poor in quality. Good enough for an Audio Boo, to record a speech from somebody or a lecture for one of you teachers, but not good enough if you wanted to publish to a podcast. So not bad as an aide memoir for your studies, or very lightweight use. It is the same scenario with the built in microphones in the MacBookPro line up too. Just about good enough for some tasks.
Recording better sound on the iPad
There are a number of reasons for wanting an external microphone, starting with better quality sound, a better signal to noise ratio. With an external mic you can position it better, close to you, so that you get better input of the sound. It is even better if the external mic has a lead and a clip so that you can attach it to your clothes and that helps with positioning too.
There is a company making a mini microphone called the Vericorder directional mini microphone. It can be used with an iPod Touch too. There is another mic that looks like a thumb tack or push pin and one that looks like a little capsule. The main problem with this sort of mic is that it uses the sound output jack and you will not be able to hear anything. The only way around this is to use a microphone that is a part of a earphones system, like the ones you get with the iphone.
It seems that we may have to wait for a later update to the iPad in terms of iOS or in terms of hardware upgrades. The latest 4.2 changes were perhaps to protect the battery life of the iPad and has for the moment at least forced me to think again about the possibility of using the iPad to record anything. Better to use a MacBookPro with a USB podcasting microphone if you want some decent sound.
Don't forget that you can use Dragon Dictate iPad application to speak your text into the iPad.