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Why the iPad and Career Break Travel Don´t Mix…YET

Written By: jeff

Posted On: April 12th, 2010

Jeff checking out the iPad

Staying connected and entertained on my career break were ongoing priorities. And, Apple over the years has served me well.  With my Macbook and iPods (yes plural), I could blog, email, manage my photos and listen to music along the way.  I even stayed in touch with a couple of TV shows that I just had to watch.  When you are on a round the world trip or even just a long-term trip, sometimes you need to get back in touch with what is familiar while you are out exploring the new and exotic.

So, in the lead-up to the big iPad announcement earlier this year, my curiosity was piqued.  Pad technology, if I can call it that, was already on my radar screen as a possible ¨must have¨ gadget to take on the road.  I have been looking at Amazon´s Kindle from afar in Colombia and finally got to play with a friend´s who was visiting in February.  I liked it a lot.

So, when Steve Jobs made his big announcement, I downloaded the podcast of his speech into my iTunes library and watched it on both my iPod and my Macbook.  I was impressed with the basic design of it.  But, I saw several flaws right away.  But, I thought, well, maybe I need to touch it and see it before I judge to harshly.  On Monday, April 5, while still in the US, I had the chance to play with an iPad at a Best Buy store and at an Apple store.

In evaluating any new product or gadget to take with me on the road, I have four key criteria to determine if it goes in the bag or if it gets left behind.

  1. Functionality: Does it do enough for my travel experience to be added to an already full load?
  2. Durability: Can it take a knock and keep on going?
  3. Weight and dimensions: Will I mind carrying it around and can I fit it in?
  4. Price: There are a lot of things competing for my travel money so it better be reasonable.

My bottom line is that for a traveler, the iPad just isn´t there yet. It´s close and there are many things I do like about it. I am beginning to see this as an integral travel tool.  But, I am going to wait to see what is released with the iPad version 2.0 before spending the money.  Having said that, on Friday I did enter Lonely Planet´s iPad Twitter contest.  I said I wouldn´t buy one right now, not that I wouldn´t take a free one if the opportunity came up.

What There Is to Like

  • It´s Unlocked.  One of the things that drove me nuts when the iPhone was launched was that they did not allow all 3G carriers to carry the iPhone.  Practically speaking, that prevents travelers from accessing significantly cheaper pay-as-you-go plans in foreign countries.  The iPad is different. You can get a local SIM card with a data plan and access the internet while on the road.  Of course, the wi-fi feature may allow you to get free internet without a data plan anyway.
  • The e-reader. One of the biggest surprises I had traveling was that I had more down time than I expected, whether it´s on a long flight, bus ride or just chilling in a cool cafe.  This is the perfect time to dive into that book you´ve been wanting to read, or even peruse the travel guide.  But, carrying around too many books can weigh you down quickly.  I am for any e-book technology that can allow us travelers to carry around several titles without adding weight to our backpacks or luggage.
  • Screen size. The iPad felt good to hold and watching videos was a joy.  I´ve become accustomed to the iPod and iPhone screen sizes for watching videos. But, having that larger screen makes all the difference.  I believe it will encourage people to consume even more video than they currently do.
  • Integration with Mobile Me.  I love that all of my contacts, bookmarks, calendar and email are all available on the device.  I recognize that for Apple this was a no-brainer since they always leverage the technology they currently have. But, thanks all the same.

What Needs Work

  • Drop the dock and give me a real USB connection.  Today´s traveler at any age is obsessed with their digital pics and how to get them posted quickly to Flickr, Facebook and/or their blog.  I´ve seen them from ages 18 to 60 at the internet cafes and hostels trying to clear up space on their photo memory cards.  The only current workaround is to load them on your laptop and then transfer them over to the iPad using a dock.  That solution doesn´t cut it. Not only does it add a step to the process, it also means I have to pack one more gadget to make it all work.  We travelers are always looking to eliminate things to pack.  Don´t add to the load.
  • Battery life. A 10 hour battery is a very impressive start. But, as I´ve found on my iPod and iPhone, if you do anything other than listen to music, the battery gets used very quick.  And, when you´re on the road, 10 hours may not be sufficient to get you to your next destination if you are using your iPad for reading, video watching, games and listening to music.  Remember, my assumption is that people will concentrate their consumption on the iPad and move away from other devices.
  • Weight.  1.5 pounds or 24 ounces sounds light. But, it actually felt heavier in my hands.  And that´s more than twice as heavy as the Kindle which weighs in at only 10.2 ounces. I know the iPad does more than the Kindle.  All I ask is that you get it under a pound.
  • Durability.  On the road, the iPad would take some pretty hard knocks.  My Macbook and iPods have all taken some hard ones and luckily for me, they´ve kept on trucking.  The iPad seems less able to handle the inevitable bumps (and what about a potential drop or fall?) from a long-term trip.  Help give me confidence that the iPad is as tough as your other products.  At a minimum, put your ¨iPad Case¨out for display so we can see that there is something to meet this need.
  • Webcam.  Skype and iChat while traveling are great tools that we travelers use to stay in touch.  A webcam would be a great edition and really add to the functionality on the road.  I don´t really care too much if you add a camera that can take photos.  I already have my travel camera with me.

What do you think? If you have an iPad or are wanting one to take with you for travel, let me know your thoughts.

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5 Responses to “Why the iPad and Career Break Travel Don´t Mix…YET”

  1. Sassy says:

    You write so well! Loved the article. Of course I am gushing and I am your friend, but, nevertheless, well done! I’ll be in TX June 17-Aug 9th. Any chance I’ll catch you?

  2. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jeff Jung. Jeff Jung said: @tripfilms I hope this helps. I just posted this today. I chose not to buy for now. [...]

  3. eileen says:

    The first thing I see when I see the Ipad is a broken screen. I’ve managed to never break an ipod or imac screen, but I have broken a camera’s screen when my keys got too close and I’m willing to bet I could break that screen (without trying) in about a week or less. It also does not seriously underweigh by netbook and doesn’t have a keyboard, nor a way to hack one in. So I agree with you careerbreaker Jeff, and like you, when I next get to the states, I’ll be checking it out on my own in the store (where I promise to try not to break it).

  4. Rich says:

    Have you tried the USB iPad Camera Connection Kit?

  5. jeff says:

    Rich, I have not tried it since I haven´t bought an iPad yet. If you have, I would be interested to hear how you like it. And, if you have traveled with it, I´d be interested to know how it packs up with the rest of your stuff. Thanks for the comment. Jeff

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