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Using My iPad on The Road – First Impressions

When the iPad was introduced a few months ago, I grappled with the decision of whether to buy one. It wasn’t a question of the technology, which I thought was really great, but whether it would be practical for me to have, given the cost. So I began to think how I would use it and, of course, taking it on the road was one of those considerations.

I ended up buying one right before we went to Canada on our rail journey in June. The purchase I made actually consisted of two different components: the iPad itself and a “photo accessory” which allows one to upload pictures directly to the iPad from either an SD card or an USB connection from a camera, through two different connectors that are provided. Unfortunately, the photo connectors didn’t arrive until the day after we got home from the trip, so I wasn’t able to try those out during the time I was gone.

I opted for the 32 GB iPad (the middle choice between 16GB and 64GB) and the Wi-Fi only version. I wanted more size for movies that I planned to load to the device, and with the average movie taking about 1 GB, I would be limited with only 16GB. The Wi-Fi version was chosen over 3G for several reasons. First, I didn’t want to spend more up-front money plus an extra monthly amount for 3G. Secondly, I have Wi-Fi at home and it is fairly prevalent on the road so I felt that it was more cost effective to “pay as you go” for Wi-Fi, rather than the flat monthly rate that would be the case for 3G. Even on my two recent trips in South America and Africa, getting Wi-Fi at hotels was not a problem, and some of the time it was even free. Lastly, the iPad was going to replace the small laptop I usually bring and I could only get to the Internet with that using Wi-Fi, so I was no worse off than I would normally be.

So we set on vacation with iPad in tow, which made my computer bag feel much lighter. I used it to surf the Internet, send emails with pictures taken and emailed from my iPhone camera in lieu of my other camera, since I did not have the photo connector, watch movies and even blog on the WordPress application. Wi-Fi was free at the hotel and at the various train stations we stopped in, and I was able to connect with no problems.

On one occasion during the train trip, we had a four hour layover in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where we could get off the train and wander into the downtown area. I never did find a Starbucks in Winnipeg, but was directed to a coffee shop called Second Cup, which had free Wi-Fi. After purchasing a snack and a drink I whipped out the iPad and began putting the finishing touches on an email that I had been composing on the train. Almost immediately several folks in the coffee shop gathered around because it was the first time any of them had seen an iPad. So after providing a quick guided tour of the device, I was able to get my email sent and make my way back to the train.

Duiring the flight home from Vancouver, BC to Los Angeles, I not only used my iPad to compose and send another email, but I was able to use airline Wi-Fi for the first time, which made the flight seem like 45 minutes instead of 2 1/2 hours. It was great to use such a small device (compared to my laptop) while sitting in those economy seats. Overall, I knew I would like the iPad, since I already have an iPhone and it is my all-time favorite device. I have not been disappointed – my iPad has been great and I love using the apps. I also am impressed with the screen quality and processing speed.

So I have to say that my first trip with the iPad was successful and I am looking forward to enjoying many more days with it on the road.