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iPad Second Impression – the Network Matters

by Dave on August 18, 2010

This is part two of three of my “second” impression of the iPad. Read the first of my series – my review of the device.

I couldn’t justify the 3G version for normal use, so I opted for Wi-Fi only (I did spring for 32GB). At home and at my online marketing agency Wi-Fi access is great. Since that’s where I spend most of my time with the iPad, my experience before the trip had been excellent.

Lesson Learned – Network Connections are Important

Once you hit the road, you realize the iPad experience hinges on access to the Internet. No ‘net and many things won’t work, or aren’t nearly as useful. Some apps work OK w/o Wi-Fi (like feed readers) but they need to be synced or updated when you are back in range – sometimes a major hassle.

At the Airport

I was lucky – everywhere I stopped, I had free WiFi. The connections were consistently fast and reliable. I was able to check my email, browse the internet, and review all my news sources (check out my third installment on Friday). I didn’t mind waiting for my connections at all.

On the plane

I split my time between reading on the Kindle; checking out some PDFs on iBook (I used DropBox to load to them to the iPad). I downloaded movies using iTunes, they were great to watch, but I had trouble with one of the rentals starting up again after I had paused it. Apple was quick with a refund, but still a bummer.

At the hotel

At the hotel it was a different story. The network was free, but password protected and managed by room number. My iPad and laptop couldn’t be on WiFi at the same time. Moving around the hotel worked OK, but when the signal was weak or network overloaded – the login wouldn’t work or would drop out – very frustrating. The iPad isn’t optimized to deal with a shaky network and frequent manual reacquisition of signal and logins can drive you to distraction. It traveled with me to the hotel beach – some apps were hard to read in the bright sun, but if I could keep the signal, the iPad worked great.

Out of the country

My trip was outside the US. Certain apps and sites don’t like that. I had trouble with loading a new book directly from the iPad Kindle application. I had to go back to my laptop, log in to Amazon.com, and purchase via the web, and have it delivered to my iPad.  It pays to plan ahead and check what works before you leave.

What do you think?

Have you traveled with your iPad? What did you think?

Don’t forget to stop back on Friday and read about my favorite apps.

Full Disclosure: Expect some links in this post to go to one or more affiliate programs and know that I get paid a nominal fee for referring you to those resources if you make a purchase.

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