We've covered the iPad's usefulness as a digital sketchbook in some depth, but how does it stack up for the rest of the tasks you'll want to do on the move -- from client presentations to day-to-day admin tasks?


While the idea of using my iPad on my business trip was exciting, it didn't take me long to hit some stumbling blocks.

Document incompatibility
My client asked me to put together a PowerPoint presentation for a meeting I'd be attending on the trip.

In theory, that should have been no problem: Keynote on the iPad, a presentation application, works with PowerPoint slide shows, and I should have been able to connect the iPad to a projector using the iPad VGA adapter and give my presentation.

That's the theory. In practice, it didn't work out.

My client sent me a PowerPoint deck to use as a template, asking me to design my presentation using the colours, fonts and formats that were in that deck.

But the template proved to be incompatible with the iPad.

It used the Dingbats font for some graphics, but the iPad doesn't support that font.

To preserve the formatting, I had to create the presentation using Keynote on my iMac and then borrow a laptop while at my destination to give the presentation.

I found out about the PowerPoint problem one business day before my trip started.

So the iPad experiment was a failure before it began. Before I even got on the plane, I knew I'd have to use a laptop some of the time.

Internet incompatibility
The client company and I used Google Wave as a backchannel discussion tool during our all-day meetings.

That was fun, and productive too. But Wave doesn't run on the iPad; it requires Chrome, Firefox or desktop Safari.

So I had to use my borrowed laptop to participate in the Wave.

I found the iPad's lack of Flash support to be a problem.

This is ironic, because it hadn't been a problem for me before the trip.

Sure, the lack of Flash support prevents me from playing a lot of online games and watching many online videos, but there are plenty of other games and videos that are iPad-compatible.

If I can't watch the video of the cat falling off the pool table, I'll watch the video of the cat falling off the coffee table.

However, the lack of Flash support was a problem for me on this trip, because I needed to post a blog that used Flash, specifically this one, which contains a Flash-based embedded MP3 player.

I needed to check to be sure the MP3 player worked after I published the blog.

To do that, I had to go down to my hotel business center and pay for five minutes to check the blog on one of the hotel's PCs.

And, frustratingly, when I got back to my home office the following week, I discovered the Flash on that blog still didn't work.

NEXT PAGE: Strange tools, missing apps