RoadRUNNER Digital Rider

Field Tested – Apple iPad 2

Apr 16, 2012 View Comments by

I recently took my Apple iPad 2 on its first roadtrip into the Pennsylvania Wilds, replacing the HP netbook that I had used for emails, web surfing, trip notes, GPS map holder, and picture holder. How’d it do?

Email Getter: B

The built in email app is very nice and works with most common email platforms (Yahoo, Google, AOL, etc). It’s easy to download, read, sort, and send email. The only reason it doesn’t get an A is the lack of a real keyboard. The touchscreen is fine for shorter messages, but if you need to send longer messages, a real keyboard is nice. Then again, who reads long emails anyway?

Web Surfer: C+

The iPad is a great device for surfing the web. It’s better, in many ways, to a computer. The display is bright and crisp and it’s easy to navigate most sites. Some sites, however, still use Flash technology for videos and animations, and thus can’t be seen with the iPad.

Trip Note Taker: B

I use Evernote for my note-taking. The great thing about the app is that it synchronizes your data with the cloud, so notes that you take on your iPad can be later viewed or edited on your laptop, desktop, phone, etc. Once again, a real keyboard beats an on-screen one, thus the B.

GPS Map Holder: F

As of this post, Garmin and Tom Tom have navigation apps for the iPad/iPhone but no facility to connect with a motorcycle GPS to upload/download waypoints, tracks, POIs, etc. I’ve always found it easier to plan routes and set waypoints on a computer and then transfer them to the GPS. This isn’t possible with the iPad.

Picture Holder: B+

With the iPad Camera Connection Kit, The iPad effortlessly ingests photos and videos from the handful of cameras tested, including JPG and RAW/DNG files typical of dSLRs. The import process is a little slow, but you can choose to import all photos or just selected ones. Capacity is based upon how much memory you have on your iPad. Apps like Snapseed provide some sophisticated editing tools if you’d like to make some changes and post while on the road. Once home, photos are easily transferred to the computer. I’d like a little more ability to sort and organize photos once on the iPad. And I’d definitely test the iPad with your particular camera(s) before hitting the road.

Travel Apps: A

This is where the iPad really shines – with great apps for weather, reading books/travel guides, and watching movies Load up some music and you can fall asleep to your favorite tunes or listen to something while preparing dinner.

Other notes:

Battery life of the iPad is great, better than most any laptop or netbook that I’ve used. The charger is also smaller than any laptop or netbook, making the overall packing size quite compact. The iPad seems sturdy too, with an aluminum body and tough Gorilla Glass. It can be cold to the touch in low temperatures when camping.

Overall, the iPad did great, the only failing grade related to managing GPS maps. If that’s not a concern for you, this may be a great travel device for the Digital Rider.


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About the author

You know that little boy who stares at you, mouth agape, as you ride by? That was me, thirty-plus years ago. I merged two of my passions, motorcycles and photography, when I became a contributor to RoadRUNNER.