The Critics: Apple’s iPad and Travel

Travel Blog  •  Eva Holland  •  01.28.10 | 6:15 PM ET

Apple CEO Steve Jobs holds up the new iPad during the announcement for the device. Photo: REUTERS/Kimberly White

Apple’s latest gadget has inspired plenty of talk—and plenty of jokes—over the last couple of days, and among the travel media the big question has been: How will the iPad change the way we travel?

National Geographic’s Mary Anne Potts is enthused, calling the iPad “the ideal on-the-go device for work and play.” Martin Rivers of Cheapflights begs to differ, criticizing—among other things—the lack of USB ports and calling the gadget “a playback device that does very little unless you also happen to be carrying another machine.”

Over at Jaunted, they’ve posted two takes on the iPad—the first argues its merits for travelers, while the second points out its shortcomings. Blogger JetSetCD summarizes:

To put it simply, the iPad is all about media consumption and not creation. It’ll be great for reading eBooks, watching movies, surfing the web, referencing Google Maps and flipping through photos you have already transferred onto it from your regular laptop or desktop. That said, it is not a standalone device; you will need to travel with your laptop in order to upload pictures and video from your camera onto it and do anything on software that doesn’t work on the iPad (like Photoshop).

Finally, PhoCusWright Connect aims to get beyond the rehashing of the iPad’s specs and capabilities and look at the bigger picture for content producers—namely, “what does yesterday’s announcement mean to you and I, what should we do about it and what does the future hold for travelers interacting with our brand and content.”

Eva Holland is co-editor of World Hum. She is a former associate editor at Up Here and Up Here Business magazines, and a contributor to Vela. She's based in Canada's Yukon territory.

5 Comments for The Critics: Apple’s iPad and Travel

Jim Benning 01.28.10 | 7:34 PM ET

It’s not surprising that bloggers are complaining about lack of “media creation” opportunities on the iPad—they’re bloggers!

Nobody is out there speaking purely for media consumers, because media consumers are busy consuming media.

Only time will tell whether it takes off.

Chris 01.28.10 | 7:51 PM ET

It’s a giant version of the iPhone sans the ability to actually make phone calls.  Unless you install Skype, which you can do with the laptop you presumably already own and would need to use to transfer data to an iPad. 

Gen 2 should be better…

Mikeachim 01.29.10 | 7:13 AM ET

It’s a brilliant bit of kit, but from what I’ve read, as with the iPhone, it’s not designed for anyone who likes to bespoke their gadgets behind the scenes. It’s far more locked down than its rivals. This is the one thing that has kept me away from Apple’s admittedly superb mobile lineup. (And no USB ports? Are they mad?)

If you’re happy having your experience dictated to you, that’s fine. But geeks like to tinker (even if the results are a bit clunkier).

Dick Jordan 01.29.10 | 1:40 PM ET

I spent last September meandering around Europe as a travel writer. What if I had been able to take Apple’s newly unveiled iPad instead of a netbook and an iPhone with me during my trip?

I haven’t been able to get my hands on an iPad yet, but here’s my take based on the initial reviews by technology pundits:

Netbook vs. iPad

  * Internet Access: Over Wi-Fi or phone company data networks for both.
  * Web surfing: Netbook is better for viewing Web sites using Adobe Flash.
  * E-mail: Good on both, but built-in tactile keyboard on netbook an advantage over iPad’s virtual keyboard. Separate iPad Keyboard Dock is just another thing to pack or lose.
  * Viewing photos and video: iPad may be better.
  * E-reader:  iPad could have an edge with books, but netbook works well with newspaper Web sites, especially those using Adobe Flash.
  * Playing music: Both can store and play music files, but iPad may do it better.
  * Word-processing: Netbook with MS Word will probably best iPad’s iWork program.
  * Applications: Netbook can run many programs available for desktop and laptop computers, although graphic-intensive programs can run very slowly. iPad users will have access to the 140,000-odd “apps” available from Apple iTunes “App Store.”
  * Skype video phone calls: Can do with netbook’s built-in Web cam; iPad can’t.
  * Portability: Small size, light weight, about the same. You could put either one in your carry-on bag or day pack.

iPhone vs. iPad

  * Internet Access: Over Wi-Fi or phone company data networks for both.
  * Web surfing: iPhone is okay, especially with sites “optimized” for viewing on mobile devices, but iPad with larger screen will be better. Neither as good as netbook when viewing Web sites using Adobe Flash.
  * E-mail: Good on both, but iPad has larger virtual keyboard and available separate iPad Keyboard Dock.
  * Viewing photos and video: iPad has advantage with larger screen.
  * Playing music: Both can store and play music files.
  * Shooting photos and video: Can do on iPhone; iPad has no camera.
  * E-reader:  You can read e-books and newspapers on the iPhone, but the larger screen gives the iPad a big edge here.  Both lack Adobe Flash technology.
  * Word-processing: iPad may be better given its screen size, larger virtual keyboard and available separate iPad Keyboard Dock.
  * Applications: Most “apps” should work on both. But some, particularly those using “Location Services” like map-based applications, will probably be more useful on the iPhone since you can always have it with you.
  * Skype video phone calls: Not possible with either one; iPhone can do Skype non-video phone calls and “chat.”
  * Phone calls: iPhone only.
  * Portability: iPhone wins, hands down. I could slip the iPhone out of my pocket and do all of these things while walking down the street, sitting in a café, or while riding a bus or subway train. But I wouldn’t have been able to do so quite as easily, if at all, with the much larger and less functional iPad.

I Pass on iPad

Since the iPad can’t replace them, I can’t think of anything it does better that would justify me buying it and taking it on the road along with my netbook and iPhone. But, if Santa wants to bring me an iPad for Christmas in 2010, I’d be happy to leave him a plate of cookies and a glass of milk, especially if the gift includes another $30/month for 3G network access.

Robert 01.29.10 | 7:40 PM ET

I find this to be more of a gadget than a real consumer item. I don’t think the world is ready for an iPad.

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