iPads on Business Trips: Good Idea?

Last Updated Dec 1, 2010 10:46 PM EST

Now and then we've looked at different apps that add to the iPad's value as a business tool, but those don't answer the bigger question: when it comes to travel, can an iPad really take the place of a laptop?

CNET's Gordon Haff attempted to find out during a recent multi-city tour of Asia. Instead of a laptop and Kindle, he packed only his iPad. How did it fare? Here's a telling excerpt:

My experience was that in a business setting, it's far too easy to run into a situation where you can't really do what you need to do on a tablet. For example, when I was unexpectedly scheduled for a Webcast, I had to borrow a PC because the required Java plug-in couldn't run in Safari on the iPad.

In another instance, I would have shown a few slides during an interview had my usual laptop been available. Given that various applications let you display and even edit certain file formats on the iPad, this needn't have been an insurmountable problem. However, it's another case where some advance planning may be needed and not everything ultimately will be possible.

Ultimately, Haff concluded, an iPad is fine for personal voyages, but too limited for business trips. I tend to agree, as it would be difficult for me to accomplish any kind of writing -- or even blogging -- without a real browser and full-size keyboard.

That being said, different users have different needs. If you've been able to replace your laptop with an iPad (or any other tablet), hit the comments and let us know the circumstances.

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    Rick Broida, a technology writer for more than 20 years, is the author of more than a dozen books. In addition to writing CNET's The Cheapskate blog, he contributes to CNET's iPhone Atlas.