April 3, 2012
With only 48 hours left on my trip, I feel I have experienced enough to write the last blog post and finish up my thoughts on the iPad and how it performs on the road. So, as I sit here in a cafe in Rome I offer you a summary of my almost 3-week experience with the new iPad while traveling through Germany, France, the Netherlands and Italy.
The miles have been plentiful and transportation methods varied: plane, train, automobile and boat. The locations have been as different as can be with heavily populated cities, very rural cities and even cities set on water, such as Venice’s different islands. The one constant, however, has been the iPad and its impeccable performance. Overall I am really, really impressed with how it’s performed for me, regardless of the circumstances of its use.
Review of the new iPad for consumers
As a consumer, I’m concerned about some of the hardware aspects and how they affect standard usage. I’m also an avid user of various media (movies, video chat, photos, etc.) and the iPad excels in this area. Add in the simplicity and power of iOS and you have a pretty powerful combination. That said, there are a few items I want to note:
- With over 50 different wi-fi connections that I’ve used, including the one on the train from Amsterdam to Paris, the iPad has performed flawlessly. This is contrary to a few of the Android devices I’ve used, including the Android phone I carry with me every day.
- The AT&T cellular service has stayed well connected all throughout Europe.
- Battery life was impressive, giving me a good 6 to 8 hours of continued use. However, I did notice the 100% battery issues some people are reporting. This will hopefully be resolved in a future update.
- The new iPad does get hotter than the 1st and 2nd generation iPads. It’s not awful but it’s probably as hot as it should get without being uncomfortable.
- The higher-resolution screen makes many tasks, like remoting into my iMac, much easier and more efficient. It also makes reading easier on my aging eyes.
- Having access to a data plan and using the GPS functionality allowed me to always have maps and directions on a big screen. However, turn-by-turn navigation is much better on my Android phone. Even so, having an interactive map on the big, beautiful iPad screen was awesome.
- I used FaceTime and Skype to talk to the kids back home. So while I was away from home, using these on the iPad made is feel like I was still there with them.
- Photostream allowed the family to see all of the pictures we took. Images went to our iMacs at home, to the iPhones of our children and even to the iPad my grandparents (try to) use–all in real time. I originally thought that Photostream was going to be a less than useful feature when it was announced. Boy, was I wrong! Allowing us to keep our family up-to-date on what we were doing and giving them the ability to see what we were seeing, practically in real time, was a great way to share the whole experience.
- During downtime, it was nice to watch a movie or TV show on Netflix or Hulu or listen to music on the device or using iCloud/iMatch.
Review of the new iPad for business and the enterprise
Now, from a purely business perspective, here are some additional impressions:
- VPN worked perfectly with our Microsoft RAS servers, unlike the constant issues we have when connecting with Android. I’ve been using VPN not only for business, but also so that I could watch Netflix and listen to Pandora–services that can’t normally be accessed from international IPs. It’s a great work around and the iPad worked flawlessly!
- The native NT authentication in Safari is another lifesaver. Android’s lack of compatibility with NT authentication is one of the main reasons it isn’t being adopted in the enterprise.
- The cellular data efficiency of iOS is outstanding. Using data on an international plan is VERY expensive, but iOS did a great job managing data activities and using wi-fi as the default alternative whenever it was available. As a result, I was able to keep the iPad on and get emails and notifications immediately while traveling overseas. I see this as a major benefit over using a MacBook Air on a trip like this.
- I can’t say enough about the applications that are available, not to mention their quality. Dropbox, WebEx, Evernote, LogMeIn, RDP Lite, Kindle, Facebook, Tweetbot, IM+, Around Me, Quick Office, Hulu, Netflix and Atomic Web were among the most common third-party applications I used the last few weeks. The quality and usability of these apps played a major role in an overall great experience.
- The ability to work on servers when necessary, write or review any document at the office, do simple coding in PHP or jQuery mobile, instant message with employees or even have conference calls and view presentations with and without video were all possible with the iPad, much to my surprise.
- And usability isn’t the only area that is impacted but efficiency is as well. For example, something I appreciate in the Atomic web browser is the ability to remove images from webpages and also use the Google web mobilizer to strip webpages down to just the necessities (namely just to display content). This probably saved me hundreds of dollars on the trip, as condensing pages down to just text decreased my data usage.
So after all of this, how is the new iPad for business use?
I’m absolutely amazed at how capable the iPad is and I have to say that the results gave me a greater insight into the future of computing and where things are headed. Just like many others, I wondered what role a tablet can play in both our business and personal lives. I used a tablet for testing our products or reading the occasional website or even reading a book at night, but this test helped me see that the much-discussed “post PC era” is really here and the tablet will replace the computer for a large percentage of consumers. This is especially true for consumers who are on-the-go.
More importantly, this was primarily a test of a business use case, and I can easily state that the iPad (and eventually tablets in general) are more than capable for business use. I’m a bit of a unique case as I tend to want to do more with a tablet than most business owners. I can’t see the CEO of a management consulting firm, for example, needing to VPN into a server to modify DNS or other items; but even with my advanced testing, the iPad performed flawlessly. Tablets are here to stay and the post-PC era is creeping ever closer.