The iPad on a Plane: Success!

By  |  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…


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7 Comments For This Post

  1. mat Says:

    comparing a 10″ tablet with a 13″ full blown laptop : not even surprising that you feel less tight with 10″ than with 13″… No ? Not at all a fair comparison, IMHO. Anything could do that, in that way, the ipad is nothing magical. People can check emails, surf, tweet, on tablet computers for ages, nothing new from apple. not the perfect tablet around, but archos made 7″ wifi tablet YEARS ago, e.g. .

  2. RyanB Says:

    Mat, I don’t think Harry is trying to defend Apple’s “Magical” claim in this post. He is simply commenting on his experience using it on a plane.

  3. TravisB Says:

    Mat, you missed the point, which is confirmation that the tablet format works great in coach, compared to the traditional laptop format, which sucks.

    As for your other point that there have been tablet computers for years, which is certainly true, tell me this – why have no other tablets sold more than a few dozen copies? What was it about them that failed in the marketplace, and conversely what is it that is unique to the iPad that is making it a huge success? Hint: when it comes to people plunking down six, seven, eight hundred dollars, it is more than just “good marketing”.

  4. mat Says:

    well, guys, I wasnt inteended on starting a war on that, this is not the point.
    I was saying that :
    saying that a 10″ tablet is more convenient than a 13″ laptop while in crowded space is of poor informative value, that’s almost evident, and could be said of any tablet around. I’ve seen people working effortlessly a whole flight on 10″ netbook, haven’t you ?

  5. Ex2bot Says:

    What about 10-12 hour battery life? That’s with something.

  6. Ex2bot Says:

    “With” should be “worth.” Autocorrect mocks me.

  7. mr4js Says:

    It’s all about the many applications available for the iPad and the long battery life. It is a winner by any measure. The sales numbers prove it.