Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
April 30, 201010:13 PM

iPad - The Next Road Warrior Or Just Another Gadget?

Can the iPad replace laptops and all the wires that go along with them? And is this the ultimate business tool for those on the go? Well, the answer is...


Or, as Maxwell Smart used to say: "missed it by that much!" 

Here's a run-through of the best and the worst about the iPad. 

The great: 

  • Super thin. It's going to be hard to find a form more favourable than this for the business traveller going forward.
  • Brilliantly crisp. The screen is amazing. The glare is almost  non-existent and everything looks very fresh and new.
  • Great for books, movies, TV and pictures. Considering that you can't always be hooked up to an Internet connection, it's good to know that any type of media resident on this device plays, reads, looks and sounds great.
  • Full of amazing app potential. You can rest assured that  the recent gold rush we've seen for iPhone apps will pale in comparison to what is being developed for the iPad. Apps like TripIt, FlightTrack Pro, Kayak, and more make this an indispensible tool for the ultraportable road warrior.
  • A completely re-invented way of dealing with email. The ease of flicking through email does make going  through a lot of email fairly painless and much more visually appealing.

You can almost do everything with it - but it's not a smartphone or a laptop, so you're going to have to curb your apprehensions and think of it as a device that is somewhere between the two. It will take some getting used to, but after a few minutes, it will be obvious that this type of device will become the business traveller's standard going forward. Think about sitting next to a client in an office or hotel lobby and how great it will be to demo products, review videos or even go through presentations. This is going to be perfect for on-the-go sales reps, realtors, artists, and for anybody who does small group presentations.

The not-so-great?

  • Weight. It's not as light as you may think. Granted, it's not as heavy as your standard laptop, but there's just too much goodness in the iPad for it not to be a little on the heavy side.
  • It needs a cover. Or a slip... or something. No one wants to scratch up a screen that beautiful. If someone releases a cover that can also triple as a stand  and can be angled better for typing, that will change many people's current complaints about what the iPad doesn't do so well.
  • Difficult to type with for those on the go.  The iPad lies flat, and it's not easy to type while hunched over an airline food tray, or while sitting at the gate. If someone can create the ultimate slip cover from the last point that can double as an angled stand, we've got a winner, winner, chicken dinner!
  • Lacking a camera and phone. For the road warrior, having the ability to use Skype would be a huge bonus. 
  • Not seamless with wi-fi technology. No one wants to be tethered to a connection, so the 3G with wi-fi version is the only way to go. The problem is that wireless and wi-fi technology hasn't been perfected yet. So, while it's a negative, this is more of an indictment on our current state of connectivity.
  • Lacking Flash. Flash has become a standard technology to view websites, so while Apple battles it out with Flash's owners (Adobe), some websites will be a challenge. Apple wizard, Steve Jobs, shares his side of the story here: Thoughts On Flash.

Overall, it's important to remember that this is only the first generation of the iPad, so it hasn't found its legs... yet. That being said, it is an awesome piece of technology that will have your flight mates leaning over your shoulder for a look. Expect all of the bad listed above to be fixed in upcoming iterations (which won't take too long).

The iPad is going to change mobile computing, and it is going to become an integral part of the road warrior's arsenal. And, remember, if you can't wait for the next generation iPad, it's not an iPhone or a laptop... it's an iPad, so keep your expectations in check.

The above posting is my tech and gadget column for enRoute Magazine called, Ultraportable (which will now run exclusively on the enRoute Blog). I cross-post it here with all of the links and tags for your reading pleasure, but you can check out the original versions online here:

By Mitch Joel