The Apple iPad – what it means for travelers

Well, after 6 years of speculation, months of totally insane guessing, “leaked” photos and feverish anticipation, the Apple iPad has finally been revealed. At least 95% of all the leaks were fake, most tech gurus turned out to be full of crap, and those that went on Twitter claiming they were testing one, were “just kidding”.

The best part of a big Apple event like this, is that it finally puts things to rest. And just like any Apple event, there is always a huge amount of disappointment. The device doesn’t do 3D, it does not have a TiVo built in and there is no solar panel on the back. It only comes with (optional) 3G, not 4G, and in its most expensive version, it still only comes with just 64GB.

So, what can the new iPad do for travelers, and just how “magical” is it?

Well, for starters, Apple claims ten hours of battery life. This sounds impressive, but many Netbook computers easily beat that, plus Apple is not exactly known for delivering on its battery promises. At least with 10 hours of battery life, you’ll make it through a long haul flight without the dreaded “battery empty” message.

The display is reported to be stunning, and it supports multi-touch, just like the iPhone and iPod touch. Most importantly, it will offer a whole new array of online content, ebook (through the new iBook app), an office suite (iWork for the iPad) and of course multimedia content from iTunes.

What it lacks is USB and a memory card slot. Apple will gladly sell you a photo kit, but this is obviously something that should have been included from day one. There is no VGA out without an optional adapter.

A keyboard is available as an optional extra (price unknown) and the battery is not replaceable, keeping in line with their other devices. There is no camera, and no GPS – both things that could have made it really travel friendly. Update: the iPad does have A-GPS, but only on the 3G version, thanks Kraig!


  • Multimedia – 10 hours battery life, iTunes store and iTunes syncing
  • Online content – newspapers, magazines and more
  • iBook – eBook reader with a 9.7″ display and iTunes store support
  • Web browser – same awesome browser as on the iPhone, but on a larger screen
  • Email – better use of the large screen
  • Apps – support for iPhone apps and new improved iPad apps
  • Gaming – integrated accelerometer and the same high quality games as on the iPhone
  • 3G service does not require a contract


  • Keyboard – onscreen only or with an optional keyboard add-on (or any Bluetooth keyboard)
  • Storage – limited to 16, 32 or 64GB – not expandable
  • 3G – optional extra for $130 more
  • 3G service is $30/month, but will not work with your iPhone plan or existing sim card
  • No Integrated Expansion – no USB, no SD card slot, no VGA, no HDMI

All in all – both impressive and underwhelming at the same time. Whether a traveler will be able to dump their netbook and pick up an iPad remains to be seen. The price does not make it all that interesting – the 16GB version (without 3G) starts at $499, which is about $100 more than a well-spec’d netbook.

But as with the iPhone, the iPad will probably be a success not based on the hardware, but on the software. All iPhone apps will work on the iPad, and many developers are already hard at work creating iPad specific versions of their programs.

One other detail that will help travelers is the optional 3G adapter. For an additional $130, your iPad can come with an AT&T 3G adapter “with micro sim card”. Most importantly, with this adapter, you can get online for just $30/month with unlimited data and no contract. Sadly, that won’t be of much use abroad, but that price point is very impressive. Of course, it does bring the total price of the 16GB iPad to $629, or about the price of three netbooks (when purchased with a mobile service plan). You do the math.

The device will be available in 60 days, or 90 days if you want the 3G enabled version. For more comprehensive coverage of the iPad, head on over to our friends at Engadget.