Traveling with an iPad Impressions & Accessory Survival Guide

I am no different when it comes to computer usage. I have a primary desktop system that I use at home and take a notebook with me when traveling, for when I need it. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t travel very often and when I do, it’s usually for business purposes like covering trade shows.

But as tablets become more popular and mobile computing moves away from the market, the idea of ‚Äč‚Äčabandoning notebooks in favor of slates certainly sounds tempting. On the Pro’s side you have portability, instant-on capabilities, long battery life, a touchscreen, and in the case of most modern tablets like the iPad 3, an HD video camera.

Sure, there will be some obvious concerns and compromises depending on what you need to achieve, but at the same time, there is a wealth of accessories designed to make your tablet experience more computer-like.

For me, traveling with a notebook can be an adventure in itself. A typical notebook weighs between four and six pounds, with most mid-range models shipping with a 15.6-inch screen. Factor in a power cable and optional accessories like a notebook cooling pad, external hard drive or USB mouse and you’ve added another bag for your travels. A tablet and a few accessories can easily fit into your carry-on bag or any other small bag that already has items you’re going to be carrying like clothes.

A recent Western Caribbean cruise vacation provided the perfect opportunity to test whether my iPad would make a suitable travel replacement. Even though it wasn’t a business trip, I still needed the tablet to perform a number of tasks, some of which wouldn’t have been possible without additional accessories. Thus, I decided to put a number of products to the test, spread across multiple categories, to evaluate strengths and weaknesses based on my own experience.

ipad camera connection kit
First and foremost, I needed some way to transfer photos from my digital camera to the iPad. I am a fan of photography so for me part of the fun of the holidays is taking pictures. The idea here was that I’d use the iPad’s Retina display to review photos each evening because it can be difficult to check for blurry or otherwise poor photos on the smaller camera’s screen.

Most Android tablets ship with an integrated SD card reader or USB port, but there are no expansion ports on Apple’s tablets. The obvious solution here was Apple’s iPad Camera Connection Kit, a $29 investment that allowed me to transfer images to the iPad using the camera’s USB transfer cable or directly from an SD card. From a consumer standpoint, being able to buy one adapter (for half the price) instead of both would be preferred, but I digress.

The takeaway: If you’re traveling and taking photos is a priority for you, the iPad Camera Connection Kit is a must. Android tablet owners should be covered in this regard for the most part.

Audio
I listen to music for several hours every day at work and despite the fact that I was on vacation with friends and I would have no shortage of entertainment, I knew there would be times when I would want to listen to some tunes. While flying our way, relaxing on the stateroom balcony, and other times where we all want to get in on the action like when we were getting ready for dinner or an evening show.

Logitech Ultimate Ears 500 Earphones

The $40 Logitech Ultimate Ears 500 earphones ship with a convenient carrying case, five sizes of silicone ear cushions, and a pair of Comply foam tips. The audio cable is a flat ribbon style with a plastic shield that ends in a 90-degree gold-plated 3.5mm jack. Aesthetically, these earphones sound great and with six different cushion options, you are sure to find a set that works for you.

Sound and comfort, the two biggest factors when selecting earphones, both came out on top. Granted these aren’t $400 studio-grade earphones, they sounded exceptional for the price by offering a good mix of bass, mids, and highs.

Klipsch Images S3 Noise Isolating Earphones

The Klipsch Image S3 Noise Isolating Earphones ($32) are a cheaper alternative to the Logitech set, though the bundle is very similar. The retail package includes the earphones, a soft padded carrying case, and three different sized ear tips. The audio cable is a standard black plastic terminating in an equally distinctive gold 3.5mm jack.

The Comfort wasn’t a problem with the S3, though it wasn’t as secure of a fit as I’d gotten with the Logitech. However, the audio quality was the best. It’s a little hard to describe, but most tunes sound pretty flat with these earbuds. I also noticed a tiny bit of cable noise – the sound is transferred to your ears when you brush against the cable leading to your audio device. This can be distracting if you are listening to soft music or at low volumes.

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