Business trip with the iPad

I’m at Educause 2010 now. I’m currently unwinding from a long day of meetings and sitting on the balcony of my hotel, watching the cool Pacific breeze sway the palms, and watching the moon traverse the southwestern sky. As I intend this to be a technology post, I should probably switch gears 🙂 . This is my first business trip since I got my iPad, and I left the laptop at the office in its dock and only brought the iPad. Have I missed the laptop? Not one minute! On the plane out, I graded papers while listening to tunes on the iPad, and then watched a movie. When I got to my hotel, I found that it offered AT&T wifi, and the iPad automagically connected, switching from 3G. Email and a bit of Facebook before bed, and I was ready for the first day.

I spent the first day here at Google’s Irvine office at the EduCAB meeting. Took extensive notes using Penultimate, and emailed the notes back home to colleagues that couldn’t make the trip. Of course Google offered visitor wifi, and I could stay in touch with email or IM. Of the 20 folks attending EduCAB, five were exclusively using iPads rather than laptops. Not bad for a device that’s only been on the market 5 months.

Today I attended the main conference. As I wandered the corridors of the Anaheim Convention Center from session to session, I noticed two trends…there were lots of iPads – not the 25% at EduCAB, but probably 5-10%; also, I noted the laptop users clustered around charging stations and sitting on the floor near the few wall outlets. That was me last year, but no more. I’m convinced that one of the “killer apps” of the iPad is battery life. If competitive tablets don’t offer the same longevity, they will be at a severe disadvantage.

Late this afternoon I sat in a great session on the impact of the Internet, based around two 2010 pop culture books – Carr’s Shallows, and Shirky’s Cognitive Surplus. I’d read Carr’s book but not Shirky’s. A few taps and the Kindle copy was ensconced on my iPad. I’ll read a chapter before bed tonight. I joked with the presenters as the end of the session that they’d cost me $12.99 plus tax for attending.

Have I missed the laptop? No…the iPad can be used for content creation as well as consumption. Can you stay in touch, look at docs & spreadsheets? Sure. I plan to work on a presentation for an upcoming conference on the flight back. The iPad is a computer, a book, a stereo, a TV…its an overused term, but it truly is a paradigm shift.

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