Traveling With iPad Alone

I’m writing this post from a hotel in San Francisco, using my new 3G iPad (propped against the wall on the desk) and an Apple Bluetooth keyboard.

This was supposed to be a quick trip, Friday to Monday, helping my youngest daughter move from Palo Alto to San Francisco. It was going to be a lot of work, leaving not a lot of time for blogging, browsing, or email. And the iPad, although not as useful as a normal laptop, is so much more fun. And I’ve already done one week-long trip carrying both the iPad and a MacBook Air, which felt like some sort of ironic defeat of cool new technology. So I decided to do this one with just the iPad, no laptop.

Here are some random discoveries I’ve decided to share:

  • The iPad is irresistibly entertaining. Maps, apps, videos, books, and I haven’t even got a single game, but it’s still that entertaining. I’m not sure it’s a business tool, but it’s definitely a delightful travel companion.
  • The battery life is sensational. It really does last like 10 hours.
  • The Bluetooth keyboard turns this iPad into an acceptable writing instrument. I’m a touch typist (does anybody use that phrase anymore?) and I almost think with my fingers on the keyboard. The iPad built-in keyboard is an acceptable compromise for data input and quick emails, but I need the tactile feel of the keyboard to write. And it fits in my backpack well enough.
  • I wish they’d add a Bluetooth mouse. I’ve read about somebody setting up a mouse to go with the keyboard to turn the iPad into a small laptop; but that required jailbreak and I don’t have the heart to do that with a brand new iPad.
  • I love the 3G. Usually I buy the $10-$15 per day Internet connection in the hotel, it’s a business expense, so it’s a no brainer. But because of the moving work, I didn’t even get back to the hotel until past 8 p.m., and I intend to leave first thing in the morning. So with the 3G I saved my company $12.95. My daughter’s new apartment doesn’t have the Internet connection set up yet, but with the 3G, we were still able to browse the Web for information.
  • I’m running into a lot of problems with the Safari browser on the iPad. A lot of things don’t work well. For example, in a previous hotel I needed to scroll a window of text to accept the hotel’s conditions for free wireless. On a laptop, it would have scrolled the text to the end and popped up a button to click for acceptance. The iPad wouldn’t scroll the window, so I couldn’t get the free Internet. Flash-based maps (and there are a lot of them) don’t work. It can be frustrating.
  • I love the pricing of iPad apps. I’m amazed that people complain about paid apps. The Apple word processing, spreadsheet, and slide deck apps are only $10 each. Mind mapping is $6. Guided navigation for $30. Lots of free apps. As a software entrepreneur, it scares me. As a user, it’s exciting.
  • The entertainment value, meaning the pure fun of iPad videos and books and apps and such, is unmistakable.
  • For real business, a laptop is better. The iPad doesn’t have multi-tasking, and doesn’t have a keyboard.

Conclusion: it’s a lot of fun. But it’s a luxury item, not a work tool.

(Image: from Wired Magazine)


  • Richard Woods says:

    Hi Tim,

    Really like this post, (getting an i-pad soon) but i also like your blogging style. cheers from the UK!!

  • evan says:

    Use two finger dragging to scroll inside of pages. It’s a little unintuitive.

    • Tim Berry says:

      Thanks Evan … I’ll try it.

      Bryan: no, actually, I haven’t opened my Kindle either. The iPad is so much brighter, lighter, easier to navigate … I’m really grateful that amazon opted to be the software format, not just the hardware vendor.


  • Shashi Bellamkonda says:

    Hi Tim,

    My iPad is my first apple product ( my wife and daughter use Ipods) and I am amazed at the intuitiveness. I have a hard time getting it away from all 3 of my family members.

    Good question on 3G vs Wifi. I have to cross the bridge with my travels but the way you laid it made sense. Other than the fact that you cannot listen to Pandora while you do email I have little else to complain about. My 4 yr old is an expert and did not need any instructions from me.


  • Bryan says:

    The real question is…. have you opened your Kindle since you got it? I haven’t… and that saddens me.

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