Traveling With the iPad

While all of my thoughts contained in my iPad review still hold true, I’d like to expand that review in a very specific direction — what traveling with an iPad is like.

Since buying an iPad on launch day, I’ve used it at home and at work, but not many places in-between. In those environments, the iPad shines as a quick-and-easy way to handle email and other specific tasks in my workday.

In the last three weeks, I’ve been out of town twice — once for work, once for personal reasons. Both times, I left my 15-inch MacBook Pro behind in favor of carrying my iPad.

Work Trip to Idaho

Two weeks ago, I flew to Idaho with several staff members to visit a Salvation Army location that will be a lot like what we are opening here in Memphis next year. It was a three day trip that included 2 flights each way and a 45-minute drive from the Spokane, WA airport to our hotel in Idaho.

My main tech needs were entertainment on the flights and note-taking while in meetings at their facility.

The TSA announced a few weeks ago that travelers wouldn’t have to remove their iPad from their bags as they do with laptops, I didn’t find this to be the case. Both times I went through airport security, they scanned my bag twice and then pulled me aside to open it. While that drew unwanted attention my way, I guess I can understand why they wanted to double-check. Still, it was annoying.

The iPad is great on flights. It takes up far less space than on a MacBook Pro, so even on a crowded flight, I felt comfortable using my tray table to sit my iPad on. I made it through a few TV episodes and part of a movie easily without eye strain. The battery life is simply incredible — there is no way I could have watched that much media on my laptop — which is a Mid–2009 MacBook Pro.

I took almost 200 pictures while touring their facility, and it would have been really nice to edit some of those and share them using the iPad. My Camera Connection Kit just shipped from Apple yesterday, so I had to wait until I got back to Memphis to process the photos.

As far at note taking, Evernote once again got the job done. I’m not in love with Evernote by any means, but at the time, Simplenote hadn’t released their iPad app. I’m still moving back to Simplenote, albeit slowly.

The iPad had no issue joining the hotel wireless or the wireless on the planes (2 of my flights offered in-flight wifi, two didn’t). I’ve had issues connecting to networks with odd security measures in place, though. (St. Jude, I’m looking at you. Please fix it.)

I got several questions and looks from people when I took the iPad out of my bag, both on the plane and at the Salvation Army facility. That’s to be expected when you carry a new hot piece of tech, I suppose. Not a big deal, as long as no one is creepy about it.

All in all, the iPad served as a moderately useful laptop-replacement on this trip. It really shined in the areas of battery life and portability. The weight difference alone in my carry-on made carrying the iPad instead of my MacBook Pro worth it.

Personal Trip to Fayetteville, Arkansas

This past weekend, a childhood friend got married in Fayetteville, which is about a 5 hour drive from Memphis.

I really only used the iPad to catch up on email, news and Twitter each evening at the hotel. It didn’t leave the hotel room once I got there.

This trip did mark the first time I wished I had opted for the 3G-equipped model. I knew it was bound to happen sooner or later. The hotel I stayed at made people pay for Wi-Fi, which is crazy to me. It’s 2010, people. It wasn’t that big of a deal to tether it via Wi-Fi to my Palm Pre Plus, but if I hadn’t have had my phone (or a good 3G signal on Verizon) I would have been without an internet connection for my iPad.

(Granted, if I had taken my MacBook Pro, I would be in the same position.)

Again, the battery life of the iPad shone on this trip. I didn’t charge it a single time while I was gone — even with an hour of use each night for three nights, it had plenty of juice when I got home Sunday night.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, I was very impressed with how well I faired with “just” the iPad when out of town. The size and weight of the iPad makes it far more attractive than a laptop in many situations.

My biggest complaint — about working with photos — will be addressed on Friday when FedEx delivers my Camera Connection Kit.

Color me impressed.