After a week driving cross-country with an iPad, here are some thoughts on its usefulness:
- Car Charging – We had an iGo Car Charger and an Apple USB to iPad cable, but neither one was able to charge the iPad, probably because the car’s power sources (cigarette lighter and USB port) didn’t provide sufficient wattage. Both cables worked fine for charging iPhones though, and the iPad’s battery lasted almost all day.
- 3G Signal Strength – The AT&T 3G network was most reliable in urban areas and along some highways, but for much of the trip the iPad could only connect to AT&T’s slower EDGE network. This did drain the battery more quickly, but it was still useful to be able to look at live maps and get driving directions. Also, even when the iPad was completely out of network range, GPS still worked. This was useful for pinpointing location and proximity to the next step in a driving route.
- The Laptop”Replacement” Question – Perhaps the biggest debate about the iPad is whether it can be a laptop replacement. Since many people own laptops and have no immediate plans to get rid of them, a more practical question is:
Can the iPad serve as one’s primary information, communication, and authoring tool?
We had laptops in the car, but the built in 3G made it seamless to look at maps, book hotels, find restaurants, check email, and post items here on Future Changes. The iPad was easier to carry into a restaurant or hotel (and did spark several impromptu conversations with interested waitstaff and other customers) Also, free wifi in hotels felt like a nice bonus (and speed increase), but not absolutely necessary. Even after the trip, I’m still using the iPad and haven’t opened the laptop yet.
I think that speaks for itself.