I have now had the iPad for five weeks, three and a half of which were spent traveling through Eastern Europe with it as my only companion device (other than the iPhone 3GS). Short version, it’s brilliant. Long version, still brilliant.
On the trip:
- The wifi issues that plagued me at home were never seen. When there was wifi available, that is. Most hotels had some kind of wifi available, but they charged an arm and a leg for it. Boingo got me on at some hotels included in the global rate and almost all airports. And most hotels that charged a fortune for wifi had free wired, so the Airport Express finally started to pay for itself. Travel Tip: Get Boingo for airports - $7.99 a month unlimited for iPads - and carry an airport express. Or get a hotel that has free wifi.
- The Apple case is surprisingly perfect for traveling. I threw the iPad into my daypack without a sleeve or any other protection and it survived completely unscathed. Not carrying the weight and bulk of a laptop, sleeve and power brick, priceless.
- The TSA in the USA were OK with leaving the iPad in the bag while going through security theatre. In Europe they confused it with a computer and required me to remove it from the bag. Since its small and light, no biggie.
- There were only a few times that I may have needed 3G on the iPad, usually away from the hotel, but the iPhone was sufficient in those circumstances. I think the combination of exorbitant data roaming costs, lack of tethering and the size of the iPad take away from the need for 3G while traveling overseas. Back in the homeland, 3G has more value, if and only if you can combine with your iPhone data.
Frankly, AT&T; ought to give clone SIM cards to their iPhone customers for free to use in their iPads as its an either/or situation. Either I get my data on the iPad or I get my data on the iPhone, but I get the same amount of data either way over the 3G network.
- For information consumption, I did everything I needed on it while traveling, read mail, twittered, caught up on the news, browsed the web, watched news clips, kept track of stock prices, read books, and read my saved guide books in Instapaper.
- For information production, use was more limited, I responded to emails, kept a travel journal using MaxJournal and updated Facebook a bit.
- I did not need to edit or create or even review files while traveling. This was a vacation. I suspect that I may need to bring the laptop for work trips in future though, only because I write software and I cannot do that on the iPad.
- I wish the camera connection kit had been released before I left, it would have made a difference. I had to come home before I could grab the photos off the Nikon D80 and start to review and tag them.
- Pulling out an iPad in public in Europe garnered attention. People often walked up and asked if it was a real iPad. I am certain its going to do well there, they all carry iPhones already.