You cannot use a thumb drive via USB on the iPad. It does not work. If you have no unlimited WiFi access, and cant use a cloud based solution, you have no choice but to add the files via iTunes. The app that you use doesn't really matter since the process is basically the same when you use iTunes.
You can look at Adobe Reader and use file sharing for iOS but you are still using iTunes.
iOS: About File Sharing
But since you have that many devices that you must set up, you might be better off looking for some help in the iPad in the enterprise discussion site. Those users are probably better equipped to help you.
You can use the camera connection kit to connect thumb drives, however they have about a 50/50 success rate, in addition, even if you do get a thumb drive to connect, the only protocol that's supported is the import of photos and videos, and even those have to follow a strict naming convention.
The import of documents or music etc are not supported via USB
Sorry - maybe I misunderstood you. Your main question was "best way to import PDF via USB. I interpreted that to mean that you wanted to connect an external thumb drive or flash drive to the iPad. Some users want to connect an external drive directly to the iPad. It is not possible to do that.
Is that what you meant or did I misunderstand you?
Ah, i see.
I meant to say, best way to import PDF files on my PC through USB cable for ipad. Sorry for the confusion.
I think, as you advised, I will transfer my pdfs on my HD to ipad via itunes upon preparation of devices.
I have an additional question if i may.
> As i mentioned, these are flyers for use by sales reps ultimately. I found apps like pdf notes, which I found interesting and useful upon talking with cusomers. However, i cannot figure out a) how to transfer pdfs in ibooks to pdf notes b) how to directly import pdfs on my computer into pdf-note app
Is this not possible?
Sorry for the multiple questions, and thanks for your help.
I may answer a bit late and I'm sure you found a solution. (please share if that's the case as i'm in similar situation).
Not to mention the new i-Tunes is horrible and make file transfer even harder.
Anyways, I would send emails with a set of couple PDF documents in attachment.
Once your rep receive those emails (you may have to send 10/15 of emails... yeah I know thanks Apple...), your rep can open those PDF in iBook or Perfect Reader. They have to do this operation one by one ... I have not found a batch process solution to address this situation...
Hope it helped a bit.