What the iPad Will Mean for Me and Travel

In the few hours since the Apple iPad was announced, there has been a flurry of commentary about it, although few people have even used it yet. Here is what I think based on what I’ve seen so far, and how I see a device like this effecting me:

  • This will eliminate the need to carry books. Like many people who travel, I usually have books I carry with me. If you have ever had to carry a box of books while moving, you know they are heavy. Once you collect a few books, they become a big pain in the ass. The iPad not only eliminates the need to carry books (and probably guidebooks) but it also gives me instant, worldwide access to a giant English language bookstore, which is hard to find in many countries. Also, iBook (the new software) uses the open ePub standard, which Amazon doesn’t. In terms of competing with the Amazon Kindle, I’d say this kicks the Kindle’s ass. Most people who are pointing out the flaws are totally ignoring the use this device has an ebook reader. If you are a long term traveler, then this is a very big deal.
  • Sharing Photos. Perhaps the most valuable use for my iPod Touch and iPhone for (yes I have both) is showing other people my travel photos. Hands down. It is entertaining and I get a certain satisfaction at seeing people’s faces light up when they look at my work. The iPad should be that experience – on steroids. This will be a much better way to share with people what it is I do. I relish the thought of being able to share my photos with people I meet on the road in the way which they really should be seen: big. I purchased a digital picture frame for my parents for Christmas. I wish I could have just gotten them an iPad instead.
  • This is not supposed to replace a laptop. A camera and USB ports would be nice, but I don’t need this device to be something else. This is first and foremost a way to browse content: music, video, text and images. I don’t see myself doing photo or video editing on it, and that’s OK. If it can give me a bookstore anywhere in the world, I’m happy with that. Future versions will most certainly have more features. Almost every complaint I’ve seen so far is about what the device is missing, not about what it does. All the reports I’ve read of people who have actually touched it say it is fast, responsive and fun. If anything, I see this eliminating the need for my iPod Touch. I always carry a backpack with me anyhow, so not putting it in my pocket isn’t a big deal. If they did add a mic and GPS, it would replace my iPhone (I’d just use Skype for the few times I have to make a phone call).
  • Unlocked and no contracts. OMG is this amazing. I wish the iPhone had a similar deal. I can get a prepaid SIM card in any country with 3G, I can get a short term AT&T deal when I’m back in the US, and get unlimited bandwidth for only $30. I’m paying almost as much for the wifi at the Sydney airport where I’m typing this. This is a HUGE deal for frequent international travelers. You can’t get this good of a deal on the iPhone or on a laptop. This alone should make this the premier device for international travel.
  • Great for content producers. Everything I’ve mentioned above is about me using the iPad as a consumer of content. As a producer, I think that it has great potential as well. I think it will make it easier to display photography and opens up new formats for displaying content. I’m even starting to question the need of going through a publisher if I want to write a book. If there is a popular, mainstream device that supports ePub, there is no reason why I couldn’t do everything myself. (I still might use a publisher, but it becomes much more optional)
  • I’ve already talked to people about getting an early version of the device and sending it to me overseas. I’m more than happy to be a pioneer and take the arrows.

    This device isn’t perfect. Running background applications would be a great addition, and one I’m sure will be added in a future release of the OS. There are already rumors of background support in the next release of the iPhone OS, and I’m sure it will be on the iPad soon after that.

    I’m excited.

    • 56 Comments... What's your take?

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    Comments

    1. handy spiele says:

      I don’t think the Ipad will be as successfull as the iphone, as it is not as knew and revolutionary.

      • Evelyn says:

        I ordered an iPad for my mother, whose arthritis makes it impossible for her to use a touchpad, mouse and scrollbars on her netbook. She is comfortable with the iPad out of the box, looking up news on her favorite out-of-town sports teams, news from home, playing games and doing puzzles, watching video….and has no trouble with navigation. For her, this is the perfect device. Email is no longer a trial. She can watch pictures of her great-grandkids on the digital frame. It was so much fun for me setting this up for her that I am going to end up ‘borrowing’ it a lot to, um, search for content she’d enjoy. Yeah, that’s it.
        By far, it’s the best eBook reader I’ve seen, and I use both Kindle and B&N’s eBook Reader. Adding content takes no effort whatsoever, and display is beautiful. As far as I’m concerned, this device will get everyday use both at home and for travel.

    2. Sam says:

      The iPad will eliminate the need for books? Have you been on mars for the past year or so? The Kindle DX already does that – and you can download Amazon books globally.

    3. Randy says:

      I’ve had a iPhone since September and would totally lost without it now. It’s rugged and is great for traveling at least in the US. I have not seen the iPad yet but judging by the way the iPhone is built and the number of ways to use it I would definitely consider getting one.

    4. I think this will be a great product, emphasis on *will be*. The Gen 1 versions of any Apple product are usually their trial versions to see what the public likes, dislikes and desperately wishes it had. I find it amazing that Apple can use the public as its testing group for future models and people are okay with it.

      May be interested in one, but I’m waiting till Gen 3.

    5. Skip Hunt says:

      All being said… I TOO am very excited about the iPad for travel content delivery. Not sure if it’ll trump the Kindle or not. The Kindle does what it does very well… but a great portable platform for my dynamic travel content? Woo Hoo!

      Gary, do you know for a fact that independents will be able to publish ibook store content? With all the deals being hammered out with publishers, it has me concerned independents might not be able to easily use the delivery channel without going through a publisher.

      • Gary says:

        I don’t think anyone knows anything for certain, but my assumption is it wouldn’t be too different than the process for the app store.

        The danger for them is having the bookstore filled up with garbage ebooks that haven’t been vetted, making it hard for users to find good content.

        • Stuart says:

          The garbage ebook problem is a real one — and one that already afflicts the main appstore to a terrible degree. Until Apple come up with a means to deal with the junk, the Appstore is really only a fantastically efficient cash register while your own site remains the primary shop wndow.

    6. Skip Hunt says:

      I think I want one of these, and I’ve done my fair share of traveling too… I’m just having trouble maintaining the level of excitement you seem to have about it.

      You seem to be mostly excited about using an iPad as a reader. There are desktop readers for just about every kind of ebook out there. Why carry a laptop, iPhone AND and iPad?

      • Gary says:

        Ok Skip, let me come clean.

        This is all about picking up chicks.

        When you at a bar and you say you’ve been traveling around the world for 3 years and you hand a girl a bunch of your photos, its a great pick up. Having a big screen that you can both look at TOGETHER is even better than handing her an iPhone. The screen is even designed to be viewed from multiple angles.

        I hope this explains my excitement :)

        • Skip Hunt says:

          Ohhh!!! I get it. Kinda like those dudes who think big speakers and big SUV’s help them pick up chicks? ;-)

          • Gary says:

            You mean they don’t???

            My world has been shattered….

            • Skip Hunt says:

              I actually wrote 32,000 words on my last trip… solely on my iPhone. I edited most of my images with the laptop, but some of the apps are getting very close to doing most everything I need to do with image editing.

              I can see the iPad possibly replacing my MBP for traveling… but storage could be an issue I think.

              • Gary says:

                I’d give up my iPhone or iPod Touch before my laptop. I pretty much need it for photo editing. Everything I do on the iPod I could do even better with the iPad, however. I can’t stand typing on my iPhone. I have no idea what typing on an iPad would be like, but it couldn’t be any worse.

                • Skip Hunt says:

                  Believe it or not…. I did have a MBP with me, but actually got used to typing on the iPhone.

                  I hear ya on the image editing, but some of the apps are almost there. I did all of my editing on the MBP, but that was partially due to the iPhone screen being too small for editing. I’ve also reached a point in my own photographic work… that I try to get it as close to what I want in camera. I don’t monkey around with HDR stuff and actually find the treatment so over done these days that it’s become cartoonish and annoying… at least to my eye. I don’t even bother with RAW files anymore.

                  I used to be all about post editing too, but over the last couple of years, I’ve tried to concentrate more on subject matter, good light, and composition instead of what I can do to edit the image in post.

                  So, if all I need to do is basic level, saturation, cropping, etc. then I see no reason some of the current apps and an iPad being enough.

              • Stuart says:

                32000 words on an iphone — what kind of freakin iPhone claw did that leave you with? lol!

                • Skip Hunt says:

                  Heh! You’re not going to believe this… but by the end of that 32k, I was actually typing faster than on the laptop by utilizing the predictive/corrective text features. So much so that when I got home… the laptop keyboard seemed huge and awkward. No joke!

                  Only problem was all the typos I had to deal with. You can see the completed blog riddled with typos that I didn’t catch here http://skiphuntvagabond.tumblr.com

                  I used Tumblr for the blog and did my updates via my iPhone in airplane mode with WiFi turned on. Tumblr has a couple apps, so all I had to do is ride my motorcycle to the nearest town and find a cafe or open WiFi signal in a plaza. Wasn’t that hard. Worked out quite well, and that’s why I can almost see eliminating the weight of the laptop altogether. Would like to find out how tough they are though. My MBP has taken some serious abuse and keeps on ticking.

    7. Phil says:

      I completely agree that this is a great device for travelers. However I have to say that if your primary reason for carrying it is ebooks (as opposed to photos or web or writing, etc) then the Kindle handily kicks it’s ass.

      There’s just no comparing the e-Ink display of the Kindle to a backlit LCD as far as the reading experience.

    8. Ed says:

      Erm, so now you carry with you a dSLR, several lenses, flash, a tripod, a smartphone, a laptop with accessories, battery chargers for everything, probably a few other gadgets, and now you also add an iPad! Gadget overkill!

      • Ed says:

        Just to add… what’s wrong with showing pictures on a laptop? I have an 11″ sony vaio (good enough for photoshop and all other needs) and really, I have no idea how a 9.7″ display would improve that.

        And reading book after book on an LCD? You just cannot cannot be serious.

        • Gary says:

          1) If you can justify reading all day on a laptop, then certainly reading on an LCD can’t be that bad. Can’t have it both ways.

          2) Laptops are big and heavy. It just doesn’t work when you are sitting in a bar.

          • Ed says:

            I never said you can read on a laptop, where did you get that? You can’t leisurely read book after book on an LCD screen. Its just not not not possible. If it were, devices like Kindle would have been a flop because everyone could use their laptops to read them.

            A fully functional Sony Vaio laptop which allows me to easily run photoshop is 11″, the iPad is 9.7″, does that extra size difference justify taking two devices on trips around the world just so you can show pictures to people on something smaller?

    9. Tim Morrison says:

      Gary,
      This device will be a huge failure unless Apple adds multi-tasking and flash support. I don’t know how Apple in good faith create a device that lacks flash support or multi-tasking capabilities.

      Additionally, I think it is ridiculous that AT&T is require existing iPhone customers to pay for another data plan. This is exactly the reason why Apple has a “mini-sim” card slot on the iPad.

      Without the flash support and multitasking capabilities, I will be skipping this device altogether. Apple has missed a great opportunity here.

      • Gary says:

        Remember that the iPhone launched with NO apps. Zero.

        I think the multitasking will be taken care of with the next iOS release. Because the phone and the pad are attached at the OS, I think they are going to do them both at the same time.

        As for Flash, I don’t think it is ever going to happen. YouTube announced their HTML5 support just before the launch, and I don’t think it was by accident. You are going to see a big move in 2010 towards HTML5 and away from Flash. Flash really is horrible. It is processor intensive and can’t readily be indexed.

        Rather than the iPad dying, I think it will be the vanguard in the “replace Flash with HTML5″ campaign.

    10. Fancymonster says:

      You paid for WiFi at Sydney airport so you could update your blog?

      Nuts.

    11. Sonya says:

      Awesome post on the iPad! I’m so excited about its potential for travelers.

    12. jodi says:

      Although I still need to research the product more in-depth, I am really excited about the iPad. For my traveling purposes, I think it’ll be quite useful (I don’t have a kindle).

    13. Joel Mueller says:

      As a Kindle owner, I’m not convinced this device kicks the Kindle’s ass for reading books, although it certainly kicks the Kindle’s ass for surfing the web or playing video games. First, the Kindle uses an open e-book standard too, just not the same one – it uses MobiPocket. I have yet to find a free e-book available in ePub format that isn’t also available in Mobi format.

      Second, the Kindle has a better screen for long-term reading than the iPad. The eInk screen is nothing to scoff at until you’ve read an entire book with it, and read one with a traditional LCD/OLED screen. I have the Kindle software for my iPod Touch, and while it’s cool to be able to flip pages with a swipe of the finger, I wouldn’t even consider reading an entire book with it – the eye strain would be horrible after a few hours.

      Third, my Kindle’s battery lasts for 2 weeks of active use. The iPad lasts for 10 hours – and if it’s like most laptop battery claims, that really means 5-6 hours at best.

      • Gary says:

        I don’t think the Kindle is going to die. I think there is room for an e-ink reader and the is a pretty loyal Kindle fan base.

        However, I think the iPad will probably have a larger market share than the Kindle by the end of the year.

        A LCD screen really doesn’t bother me too much. I don’t get eye strain, and the battery, while not as long, also doesn’t bother me too much just because I’m using to charging everything on a nightly basis.

        • Joel Mueller says:

          Other advantages of the Kindle for reading – 10 ounces vs 1.5 pounds. Sometimes I like to lay on my back while reading and hold my book up with one hand. Also, I can read a Kindle outside on a bright day, just as I can with a real book. Try that with any kind of backlit LCD screen.

          And, of course, Whispernet is both free, and international.

    14. brian says:

      Cutting down on the number of physical books you need to carry is always great.

      The optional keyboard will be fine if you want to type email on it but I wouldn’t want to write a book or something intensive.

      I think it will be a huge hit on college campuses where you won’t have to carry all those books. And hopefully prices go down so that $100+ textbooks are no longer the norm.

      Honestly, it’s a large iPod Touch. I’ll wait till the price drops and more functionality is added.

    15. Bethany says:

      Hmm. I don’t know. I know Randy is really into it and can’t wait to check it out and I’m sure it will be cool. The only reason I’m not sure how useful it is simply the size. I had a small size netbook that I bought for traveling with the crazy notion i could get used to editing photos on it. I wanted a light weight laptop so I could carry more photo equipment. What a joke that thing was. I actually hated it and Randy just used it for his writing more than anything. On top of that it completely broke after 6 months of light use. I would be hesitant to go that small again simply because the computers just don’t seem that stable. But that being said it’s still worth checking out. I’m sure Randy will want to get one right away but I would probably wait and let them get the bugs out first and make it more stable.

    16. Gene Bowker says:

      I think I agree with the idea of waiting for a 2nd generation at least product. Right now, it seems like a little bit of overkill.

      My wife just got a Gateway netbook. She loves it for school. The more I see it, the more useful it seems. I think that it will be this way to me with the iPad.

      Right now, not worth the price.

    17. I like the idea of one of these but until I actually start my long term travel it will be more of a novelty that I could put of purchasing till later and when it becomes less expensive. I do however think that it was hilarious that the add attached to the RSS feed for this article was for the Amazon Kindle.

    18. As a first gen device, it’s pretty good. But it’ll need to go through a couple more generations before it’s really worth it.

      It needs, for instance, a front-mounted webcam for on-the-road conferencing.

      In two or three years, I think it will be an ideal companion when I’m working on the road. But it’s not quite there, yet. To be fair, neither the iPod nor iPhone were particularly great until the first few versions had come and gone.

    19. Sean says:

      Meh. I see its advantages to you, and anyone else that needs to look at pictures while on the go and constantly carries a backpack, but for a lot of people a giant iPod Touch isn’t that useful. The form factor makes it inconvenient to carry and use on a commute, the lack of an external keyboard means it’s not a “work” machine, and it doesn’t use e-ink so the actual experience of using it as an ebook reader will probably be worse than the Kindle (although I’ll suspend judgment on that point until I actually see the machine in action). Pass.

    20. Joshua Bartels says:

      I agreed that the unlocked option is good. But the mini-Sim format isn’t widely used yet, which would make it almost impossible to obtain a local SIM. Hopefully that will change. But for business travelers, no international AT&T roaming is bad. But I don’t think this device was designed with business in mind.

    21. Chuck says:

      You don’t need a “hands on” experience to know that the features this device lacks will make it suck.

      Sure, a few books are heavy, but replace that with a 500 dollar (way more if you count extra hdd space and 3G) gadget nearly as big as a laptop, when you’re already carrying a laptop, mobile phone and mp3 player, and I think it’s a little overkill electronics wise.

    22. Lily says:

      I like the idea of the iPad, but I can’t help but feel like it’s just a giant iPod touch. Not sure that it would bring a ton of value to me when I travel.

      • Gary says:

        It is a giant iPod Touch, but that isn’t a bad thing. The iPod touch is a great travel gadget, and the upgrades to this make it even better.

    23. BenSpark says:

      Gary,
      Did you see this attachment for the iPad? From the Apple site
      iPad Camera Connection Kit
      The Camera Connection Kit gives you two ways to import photos and videos from a digital camera. The Camera Connector lets you import your photos and videos to iPad using the camera’s USB cable. Or you can use the SD Card Reader to import photos and videos directly from the camera’s SD card. I think that solves your problem with the device not having usb.

    24. Stephen says:

      Be aware that the ebook store is US only, at this point. And based on the way publishers are restricting ebook sales overseas currently, this may not change in a hurry.

      You may get past this because you have a US credit card. But it’s something people who aren’t American residents should be aware of.

      • Gary says:

        If it is run like the iTunes store, it shouldn’t be an issue. I get treated as an American wherever I am and have no limits on buying things overseas.

    25. Natalia says:

      Unlike a paperback, which is cheap, or an iPhone, which is pocket sized and unobtrusive, this screams ‘steal me’ to me. And that is a lot of money (and information) to have stolen while travelling.

    26. Babel says:

      reading a good book with the iPad at the beach and lay it into the sand? ^^ i dont think so

    27. Flooey says:

      I can’t see the name actually being a big deal. People made juvenile jokes about the Wii when its name was revealed as well and it’s flown off the shelves.

      Also, it does come with a microphone, and it looks like the 3G model comes with GPS too (according to http://www.apple.com/ipad/specs). So it might work out pretty well for you, Gary.

    28. It has a built-in microphone, and the 3G version has GPS, unless I’m reading this wrong or misunderstanding what “Assisted GPS” means.

      http://www.apple.com/ipad/specs/

      Location

      * Wi-Fi
      * Digital compass
      * Assisted GPS (Wi-Fi + 3G model)
      * Cellular (Wi-Fi + 3G model)

    29. Stuart says:

      Think there are two duds in this — the name and no background applications. I guess we’re stuck with the former and the later will be dealt with down the road. Agree huge potential for content providers – think travel guides are an obvious candidate – esp if the 10 hour battery life turns out to be for real. Difficult to say without seeing one, but I’d guess I’d use this for reading the books I don’t care about, but for some, nothing beats paper — laying in a hammock reading a big iPhone doesn’t quite gel with me.

      • Vi says:

        Usually max battery live you get with lowest brightness which not the best for reading. But will be interesting to test iPad when it will come to Australia.

      • Gary says:

        The name thing will pass in a week. “Pad” makes you giggle like “Wii” did. Then everyone gets over it and moves on.

        I’m pretty sure the background app thing will be dealt with in the future on all of the mobile devices. Even if it isn’t, it isn’t a deal breaker for me.

        When you travel, I think you have to choose between reading and books. I’ll pick reading, even though I have an enormous library.

    30. Kevin says:

      This has no phone capability, and it uses a micro-SIM card for data only, not the regular SIM cards you can buy at airports.

      • Gary says:

        True, but I think data only sims are the next logical evolution. It might take a while to roll them out everywhere. I’ll probably write a long article someday on my thoughts about mobile data around the world.

        The Kindle Whispernet certainly doesn’t work outside of the US and never will.

    31. Matt says:

      I totally agree. I’m not sure all of the criticism today was necessary. As my iPhone turned on with the dreaded white screen of death today, I may be just a little be closer to giving the iPad a go!

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    About Gary Arndt

    My name is Gary Arndt. In March 2007 I set out to travel around the world...
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