Last Friday, I bought an iPad 2 and hopped a flight to Guatemala. I'm going to go ahead and declare my well-travelled little tablet the first iPad 2 in the developing world. It's probably also the first iPad to make it to the top of an active volcano- but more on that later. There's a lot of reviewing to do first.
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On the Airplane / In the Airport:
As far as I'm concerned, this is what the entire tablet form factor was made for. I'm used to hauling two laptops around, everywhere I go. When I need to fire off a long email or do research for an article, my only option is to hunker down somewhere and sop off a chunk of precious battery life in the terminal. But the iPad is light and unobtrusive enough to use while you're sitting at the bar. And the 10 hour battery keeps it running even in airports with no free plugs (ALL airports).
Above: Pretty girl, using the iPad 2 in an Antiguan cafe.
In business class seating, the iPad 2 is a real gem. PhotoBooth and a window seat is enough to eat up the first hour or two of any flight. You can also write or watch movies or read, all without fighting to cram your 15.6" laptop onto your tray table.
As a WiFi Sniffer:
My end-destination was a charming little cerveza-soaked city named Antigua. It is long on natural beauty and short on reliable WiFi. My hotel claimed to have it, but I'll be damned if I was able to connect more than a fraction of the time. Local bars and cafes were similarly unreliable. Normally, conducting a test would mean sitting down in each one and waiting for my laptop to boot.
But the iPad 2 gave me a better option. I'd just slide it out of my bag, check the connection, and slide it back in. I didn't even have to get out of line.
For Helping the Tech-Illiterate:
Antigua is surrounded by a tons of scattered little rural towns and villages. It draws a lot of missionaries and habitat for humanity people, and pretty much all of them used the cafe I worked at in the mornings. Most of them weren't the sort of people who used a computer at all when they could avoid it. They loved the iPad 2.
GarageBand was a particular hit.
Within three mornings, it was the go-to "email box" of all my new friends. Laptops stopped popping up as the iPad 2 was passed around like an inappropriate prison analogy.
For Amusing Kids in Rural Guatemala:
I'm certain rural Guatemala was, at best, minimally considered by Apple as a market for the iPad 2. But you don't need to speak English or have any experience with the Internet to enjoy GarageBand. I plopped the iPad 2 down with a pair of kiddos at a local orphanage-cum-pharmacy. An hour later, they were still at it. And more had joined in. If I'd known about Doodle God then, I doubt my iPad 2 would ever have left Guatemala.
Surviving Volcano Journeys:
Nothing in the Apple literature says that the iPad 2 is Volcano-Ready, but if "using photobooth on giant mountains filled with fire" doesn't qualify as "magical", I don't know what does.
Not only did the iPad 2 survive a long hike jammed into a backpack (naked) and being sat on (at least twice), it handled sitting inside a damp cloud all night like a champ. At one point, I even brought it into a geothermal cavern to mess with photobooth. The heat didn't seem to bother it at all.
During my 7 days in Guatemala, the iPad 2 saw its charger exactly twice. The first time was after three days of moderate use, right before our Volcano hike, and the second time was the morning before my flight. I took the iPad 2 everywhere with me. It lived in backpacks and sat in the back of trucks next to tools and never once gave me any sort of complaint.
Say what you will about iOS or Apple's App Store policies. They made the iPad 2 right. If all my mezcal-soaked shenanigans couldn't kill it, I don't expect your daily commute will.
Also: Here's the view from our hotel roof. Via Photobooth.
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