Thinking about getting an iPad? Read this first…

Having the iPad for a few weeks has been fun. I’ve used it to watch TV shows (thanks ABC), play Scrabble with a group of people who all used their iPhones to hold their letters (extremely cool, thanks EA and Hasbro), and I’ve been catching up on reading articles I’ve been storing (thanks Evernote).

But I needed to know if this was a device I could travel with and leave my laptop at home. So far I’ve used it in places where I’ve always been a few yards away from my laptop, so I always knew if I needed to do something an iPad couldn’t (like view Flash), I could grab my laptop.

So on Tuesday morning I embarked on a 4 day trip that would take me from Atlanta to Chicago, Chicago to San Francisco, from San Francisco to Charlotte, and from Charlotte to Atlanta. And then directly to the doghouse at home I might add.

I decided this would be the big test. I’d only take my iPad and leave my laptop at home, giving this device the ultimate traveling test. Below are my notes along the way.

– The first thing I loved was how amazingly light my laptop bag is. I’ve got my iPad, my headphones, the iPad charger and a Sprint 4G mifi card. I was able to take a very small bag and it’s crazy light.

– Hotel we stayed at in Chicago only had wifi in the room if you gave a $200 deposit for some reason. I could have plugged into the Ethernet….but my iPad can’t do that. And one of my colleagues had the mifi card. So I watched an episode of The Unit#FAIL

– Got bored with The Unit (season 4 is just kind of “meh”), so I found a Corner Bakery and god bless them for their free wifi. I wrote a blog post and caught up on some email. I still don’t have a case for the iPad to prop it up while typing but the experience was still pretty good. I had no problem typing quickly and knocking stuff out.

– We were in Chicago to help promote an event for Chick-fil-A and were broadcasting the event live on Facebook via a Ustream tab. I couldn’t test or view it on the iPad because Ustream runs on Flash. #FAIL

– Before I left I put a few Keynote presentations on my iPad that I needed to work on. Unfortunately it seems the iPad Keynote app doesn’t have all the fonts or styles used in the presentation I tried to work on so there’s really no way I can work on it and not expect it to be all forked up when I save it back to my laptop. Until the Keynote app is updated it looks like trips where I have to be working on presentations might require me to lug the laptop along too. #FAIL

– Reading Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter on the plane. The experience is pretty good, not quite as good as the Kindle but not nearly the drop-off I was expecting. I could, and will, read books on this with no problem. But…

– The glare on the plane IS a problem. It’s hard to get the iPad in a place where I don’t see my reflection or some light coming from somewhere. I haven’t had this problem at home where I can easily control the lighting situation, but the glare on the plane is a little tough to deal with, both when reading or watching video. #KINDA_FAIL

– It seems to have trouble downloading files over 10mb in email for some reason. Not sure why but that’s been tough as I’ve needed to review a few files on this trip. #FAIL

– The WordPress app doesn’t work great at this point – it crashes and loses posts frequently. Additionally you can’t add links which hurts a lot. And pictures can’t be placed or sized, only added to the post at the bottom. The more I’ve used it the more it fails me. I’ve found several apps that have this problem. This is most likely a short term situation but it’s a big problem for me at this point. #TEMPORARY_FAIL


The iPad is a great device for nights and weekends when you don’t want to pull out your laptop. When you want to watch some video, read a book or an article you saved, or knock out some email.

It’s not a great business device (sorry Jobs). I think it could do well on a one-day business trip, where you really just need something to check email and read over a few things, but if you are going for several days and need to do some of the things I mentioned above, then you probably need to bring a laptop.

All in all I still love the device. It’s just not going to replace my laptop any time soon. But of course, that’s what Apple had in mind all along wasn’t it? They don’t want you to replace your laptop, they want you to add this device to your life and still use your laptop.


  1. WirelessDude on April 25, 2010 at 1:53 am

    Have you considered using the Desktop Connect for iPad app? It allows you to remote into a PC via the Internet to perform those “other” tasks that #FAILed…

    I use it all the time and gives me “seemingly” extra functionality on my IPad.

  2. patricia camden on April 26, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    Good summary Jeff and confirms what I had expected based on just playing around with one herein the office for 20 minutes or so. It will be interesting to see what the next gen brings and I definately will hold out till then.

  3. Jeff Hilimire on April 26, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    Desktop Connect huh? I'll definitely try that, sounds like it might make the iPad a little more productive for me…thanks!

  4. Jeff Hilimire on April 26, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    PC, I actually still like the iPad a lot its just not the ideal business travel device. Nights and weekends, I pretty much only use the iPad at this point. I can do email easily, review docs, etc. Then if I need to work on a presentation I can jump on my laptop, but I still read and write on the iPad and enjoy doing so.

    When I have one day trips, I'll most likely only take the iPad.

  5. Del Ross on April 26, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    Well said, very balanced, Jeff. I know how badly you wanted this to be a different experience, so that just adds to your credibility.

    I can't help but think of a comment from De Gaulle re: Brazil, however: (paraphrased) – tablet devices are the future of personal computing… and always will be.

    – Del

  6. Kevin Vogelsang on May 5, 2010 at 2:12 am

    Glad to hear that you felt the typing experience was solid.

    Personally, I can't wait to see the iPad get in the hands of kids. The touch experience is huge. And they'll show us the future of this device. I have a feeling they'll be able to get more output out of it than the rest of us.

  7. Jeff Hilimire on May 12, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    My kids LOVE the iPad. We took it on a six hour trip last week and it was a freaking dream. Not that I don't love to hear the “are we there yet” every 10 minutes.

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  9. Hilimirefan on October 21, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    OK, it has been 6 months. Any more updates on this? We have one now in our home (not really mine), and our experience has been surprising.

  10. Jeff Hilimire on October 22, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    My update on the iPad would be that its mostly used by me while traveling. During the work day its too cumbersome to take it and the laptop to work, and it doesn’t replace the laptop. Weekends, well my laptop is there so I only occasionally use it on weekends.

    But for travel, it rocks. True, I have to usually take a laptop as well, but on planes and in airports, the 3G, the battery life, its awesome for that.

    And I’m thinking of getting the 11inch Macbook Air that just came out so I could travel with that and the iPad, or the Air might replace the iPad for me. We’ll see…

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  12. Anna Barcelos on December 1, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    Thanks for the great blog post! I just bought the iPad last weekend and am still exploring it. The decision to purchase it vs. the Kindle was a whole mind-mapping experience for me. Working on a blog post about it as therapy, ha!

  13. Jeff Hilimire on December 1, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    That’s great Anna, congrats on the decision! I’d love to hear back on your thoughts a few weeks in. Try to do what I did and travel only with it once or twice and see how you like it!


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