By Harry McCracken | Tuesday, April 20, 2010 at 11:10 pm
This morning, I got on a plane to head for a conference in Alicante, Spain. Once we were in the air, I got online (via Gogo inflight Wi-Fi) with my iPad and checked my e-mail–and discovered that the event had just been canceled. So I headed home on the next available flight. (No, I didn’t get all the way to Spain–just to Dallas, which is where I was going to catch a connecting flight.)
The one positive thing about the experience is that it was my first time using an iPad on an airplane–and as I’d hoped, this gadget was born for air travel. I was in the back of coach on a crowded American flight; I also had a 13″ Asus laptop with me, but I had to angle the screen at a bizarre angle and it was impossible to type without elbowing the guy next to me.
My iPad, however, is so small and sits so low that it worked just fine–even when the lady in front of me reclined without warning. I browsed the Web, did instant messaging, tweeted, and caught up on e-mail, and was almost as productive as I would have been with a full-blown computer in less tight quarters. And the battery had almost 80 percent of its charge left after two and a half hours of work.
The on-screen keyboard turned out to be less of an obstacle than having to I hop back and forth between multiple full-screen apps. (I’m really looking forward to trying out multitasking in the iPad version of iPhone OS 4.)
I’m not quite ready to go on major trips sans laptop. (One of my major apps–Photoshop–still has no workable iPad equivalent that I know about.) But the iPad was so much better suited to the unique challenges of coach air travel that taking both a laptop and an iPad feels less silly and redundant than it should in theory. In fact, the iPad was so unobtrusive that I thought for a moment I’d lost it–when it was merely hidden behind a copy of The New Yorker in my briefcase…