What Made My German Tour Perfect? The iPad

12/16/2010 04:13 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

I'm not a tech person at all, I'm an author. When I run into trouble with any device, I consult my partner, that is, after a lot of cursing like Eddie Izzard.

I'm also not an early adopter. It took years for me to make the switch to CDs and a CD player. What can I say? Having gone from records to eight tracks to cassettes, I was leery.

But I did buy myself an iPad only a few months after it was released (and no, I'm not an Apple person either).

I had a PC and no laptop and was in the market for a netbook, looking ahead to a seventeen-day book tour in Germany. When I saw the first iPad ads, I was smitten. But was this only a crush? Would reality prove I was deluded?

I checked out a friend's iPad, but even that didn't prepare me for how valuable a travel tool it turned out to be. Did I say valuable? No, perfect.

The iPad has a microphone, though even some friends who own one didn't seem to know that. The mic meant I could Skype home and get Skype calls while I was in Germany and save hundreds over previous trips.

I downloaded a bunch of apps like Evernote, Dragon Dictation, Dropbox, Pages and Quickoffice recommended by another author and found myself both writing and dictating throughout the trip. I kept a travel journal on the iPad and even composed a blog or two for Huffington Post while I was gone.

I stayed in three hotels, all of which had excellent WiFi, so I kept up with email via the iPad, too. I read several books and followed as much news as I was up for on the road, which wasn't a lot. But it was enough to keep me informed about the elections back home and potential problems flying back through Paris that luckily didn't disrupt my return.

The iPad also had all my iTunes music and I could listen to anything in my library as well as watch movies. HD movies look killer on the iPad, which looks killer itself.

I know that some people are bothered by the iPad screen being shiny when you read outdoors, but I don't read even regular books outside, so that's not a problem for me. And I've heard complaints about the backlighting, but I think it's perfect, especially for reading in bed at night without disturbing your partner or having good lighting on a plane. I'm prone to migraines and have never had one triggered by reading or doing anything else on the iPad.

Can I think of a disadvantage? Yes: I have more books on my iPad than I can keep track of now. But that's no real change from the many bookmarked books scattered throughout my house with book, waiting to be read or even remembered.

I'd been getting recommendations to buy the Kindle, which had always seemed a bit drab to me, and flying back from Germany via Paris, I sat next to a Kindle user. Silently comparing our devices, I couldn't help thinking hers was like the old East German Trabant: dowdy and utilitarian. In contrast, I was roaring down the Autobahn in a hot BMW.

She was apparently thinking something similar because unsolicited, she pointed at my iPad and said, "I'm getting my husband one of those for Christmas. And maybe one for myself, too."

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