The days of lugging around your laptop, netbook, or notebook on a cramped airplane, across Asia, or even on a weekend ski trip are numbered. We've seen the future of travel in Apple's new iPad tablet--and, according to Steve Jobs during his press conference yesterday, it's "magical."
The iPad appears to be the ideal on-the-go device for work and play. At a half-inch thick, 1.5 pounds, and with a 9.7-inch LED-backlit, multi-touch screen, it's more portable and vibrant than any compact computer. No need to crank it open on a cramped flight. You just comfortably hold it and enjoy whatever you like--movies, games, books, music, TV shows--for up to 10 hours (that's more than four movies of your choice on your flight from L.A. to Sydney). Then show off your trip photographs, which look particularly dynamic on the LED screen, in cool albums and slideshows with the new Photos app once you return.
Naturally, the iPad hooks up to iTunes for movie, music, and TV downloads. What's more, today Apple announced iBooks, a storefront for buying e-books (five major publishers are already involved, such as Penguin and Simon & Schuster). And while Amazon's Kindle has been a great step forward, the iPad's book display appears to have it beat. It mimics the look of an actual book page, but you can adjust fonts and type size to your liking. The white page and grey text are muted to be easy on the eye. So now, with one device, you can have access to thousands of books, movies, and games in your carry-on.
The Apps Store rolls over, as well. Right now almost 140,000 iPhone apps can move seamlessly onto the iPad, meaning travel favorites like TripIt, Yelp, and your preferred currency converter will hit the road with you (not to mention our own Nat Geo Atlas app). The larger screen makes it almost impossible to get lost, as you'll have access to larger satellite and street-level maps (GPS is only available on 3G models). And there's little doubt we will see some innovative new apps optimized for the larger display in the coming months.
As for the work side of things, Apple has clearly spent a good deal of time adapting their iWork suite for the iPad. You can work in Keynote, Pages, and Numbers to do presentations, word processing, and spreadsheets--all from the comforts of a cabana on your family beach vacation. Email also appears with a cool split screen, so that you can keep track of new mail while reading and responding to messages.
So how does the iPad get connected? Apple is allowing users to choose from Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi plus 3G models. And while they are promoting 3G service packages with AT&T, there is no contract, so you can turn if off at any time. Prices start at $499 for the 16GB Wi-Fi version and max out at $829 for the 64GB Wi-Fi plus 3G version.
But for now, we will have to take Steve Jobs's word on the mystical qualities of the device. The Wi-Fi model will be available in 60 days; the Wi-Fi plus 3G model in 90.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Since I am embracing my inner geek these days, I wanted to take a little time to talk about the new iPad and how it will affect travel. I'm a big fan of traveling light because you can pick up and move last minute, plus it makes for a cheaper trip (luggage fees, bellman tips, etc.). The iPad concept is exciting to me since it combines a lot of functions into one device, which I'm always a fan of. It seems as though the folks at National Geographic agree with me...thought I'd share.