With hundreds of thousands of apps available for Apple's iPad, there are sure to be plenty of quality ones to be had for free. Nevertheless, despite Apple's closed market and quality control, bad apps are commonplace and especially so among those that are free. Below, I present a list of some quality free apps. Those new to the iPad are encouraged to take a look at last year's lists as well (Best Free Apps of 2010 and Best Paid Apps of 2010), and if you have a few bucks leftover or an iTunes gift card from the holiday season, be sure to pick up something from the Best Paid Apps of 2011 as well.
DocScan HD - I became aware of DocScan at a recent iPad in Education event. This is essentially a handheld scanner application, but for educators, you could use the annotation features to mimic a document camera, thus allowing for the possibility of adding this device's functionality to your iPad for a mere percentage of the price. Note: the full version, Doc Scan HD Pro ($3.99) offers unlimited captures while the free version offers only six, though cloud storage/sync setups exist.
Chase - The large bank made a big splash by touting the new check scanning features of its application. Several banks are hot on its tail, but Chase has made iPad check deposits a reality, thus eliminating the need to visit the ATM or your local branch, and instead doing so from the comforts of your home. On top of the finance chart, you'll find an app from Bank of America, but do note that check scanning is not currently available. Still, most big bank finance apps offer similar functionality that includes checking account balances, making transfers, and linking to credit cards.
Health and Fitness
Calorie Counter and Diet Tracker - It wouldn't be a new year without a few resolutions to complete. And it wouldn't be a new year's resolution in America unless it included either a gym membership or a pledge to lose weight, right? More people are finding it easier to keep track of their calorie counts by using apps such as Calorie Counter either on their iPhone or iPad. With a huge database and a vibrant display, this app makes it easy and borderline fun to keep track of what you eat and how you exercise.