Despite a few glitches and an apparent underestimation of the scale of demand, even from its own manufacturers, Apple's iPad has taken the world by storm. The all-in-one multimedia machine seems set to become the future of personal entertainment and has set a new standard for others to follow.
Despite its obvious portability, how does it fair on the road?
As travel companion, the obvious advantages of an iPad are its uses as a personal library, Web browser, music and movie player. But with the addition of roughly 200,000 downloadable iPhone and ipad applications, its uses while travelling extend well beyond the obvious. With a little pre-planning, your iPad can become a personal translator, a guide map, a weather forecaster and a travel agent.
For driving holidays or long haul flights, parents no longer have to endure endless rounds of "I-Spy with my little eye" or spend hours searching through the in-flight entertainment guide, they simply load the kids favourite cartoons to enjoy a peaceful trip. Even in the front seat, using the maps application plot your route cuts out the need for family arguments when you get lost or disagree on journey times. Then there are applications like FlightTrack Pro that shows a plane's location in almost real time, and alerts you with a pop-up message if your flight is delayed or cancelled.
Once you arrive at your holiday destination, the iPad can be used in various ways to make life more easy but you will obviously need a good wireless connection to make the most. The 3G version is scheduled for release soon, but even then roaming issues may cause consternation. Travel Guide applications can give you fast and accurate information on sights, local attractions and restaurants and you can follow up on friends' recommendations by simply googling any names you've been given.
One of the beauties of the iPadis that it can also be something to pass around. Unlike a laptop, this is not necessarily a private piece of technology. On holiday, this means friends or families can use it for their own practical applications or general amusement, taking it turns to read a book, watch a movie or surf the web. More creative users can build games around You Tube clips or quizzes based on Wikipedia searches, filling the lazy days with distraction and fun.
Ipad is not yet the best beach accessory. Bright sunlight can make the screen unreadable and concerns about theft, sun lotion and sand may outweigh any benefits. But lying by the pool in a private villa, connected to the wifi and sipping on a cold drink, you can now access a world of choices and entertainment without ever leaving your sun bed.