I love my iPad. I take it with me where ever I go. I use it to read ebooks, write articles on the go, share pictures with my grandmother and check my RSS feeds.
The iPad can also be used to play games on, update your blogs, edit pictures and share documents.
Personally I would not take my laptop on a trip very often any more. There’s just no use. Especially if you have an iPad with 3G there are hardly any things you can’t do with it any more.
Netbooks have really stopped being useful, IMO. There’s just hardly a reason to get them any more. For every day travel an iPad is just handier. It’s easier to read on, it’s smaller and lighter and you can give presentations on them just fine.
The only reason to get a laptop at all is if your expectations are to use full PC functionality on the go. To put the final touches to a document, including layout and fonts, you really need to use a laptop. An iPad is great for creating a first draft, but the word processing apps available even strip out advanced functionality, and certainly don’t let you add it.
Similarly: want to do advanced photo-editing on the go? You’ll need a laptop. However, the iPad does allow more simple photo editing. However, you may want to try out whether you can load images directly from your camera to your iPad, because I found I could not: apparently my camera asks for too much electricity or something. So, again, it depends on what your requirements are: photo editing on the go? Test before hand. For me that’s not a deal breaker.
Even when it comes to presentations: if you want every detail of your presentation to load, want a customized background to your presentation, you’ll need a laptop or USB stick to put it on. I am not that fastidious: the choice of backgrounds in the iPad keynote app is good enough for me. And I love being able to swipe to my next slide. I haven’t figured out yet why sometimes when I press the screen it turns into a pointer (which is great) and sometimes it doesn’t, but that really is my only beef with keynote.
What it amounts to is that nine times out of ten I’m just happy to have a device with me on which I can read books, share pictures I already made, create and publish blog posts and go online to check stuff. It’s my go to device for presentations as well. And what fun to sketch on a touch device! I have several drawing apps installed which is a lot of fun on a quiet moment.
On a trip Google Maps is just great as well. It doesn’t fully replace taking a map with you, but it sure makes a good addition. Take a Google maps screenshot of the region of your hotel and it will sure help you find your way around there. The screen of the iPad is so large it is a real help in getting around.
In short: it really depends on where you set the bar. But with the iPad 2 3G being so light and being able to do so much, I think for most people it fulfills all your traveling PC needs.
So what iPad should you get? For travel I’d definitely recommend going with a Apple iPad 2 3G : the iPad isn’t half as much fun without internet access. I found that although a 16GB iPad fits my needs, I do need to limit which pictures I load on it. If I’d gone with the 32GB version I could have just synchronized all my pictures with my iPad and saved myself a lot of trouble.
3G / 4G: Mobile internet access. Ideal for internet on the go, when there isn’t a wi-fi connection.
More about choosing a laptop, iPad or netbook. More about choosing a Tablet PC: Windows Surface, iPad or Android.