Tablet computers: How much do/can they add to your travel experience?

Discussion in 'Travel Technology' started by wanderlust, Feb 19, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. wanderlust
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    wanderlust Silver Member

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    Strongly considering getting a tablet for leisure travel. Long flights are a lot better when you have entertainment, and it seems like a tablet would be very useful for internet access as well and would obviate any need for a hefty laptop. Anyone use a tablet during leisure travel? Has it been worth it?
     
  2. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    If by tablet computers you mean the iPad-style devices, i.e., thin lightweight slates with a touch OS: absolutely -- I love my iPad. Bought it on the first day and I don't think there's been a day where I haven't used it at least and hour since then.

    (I put the "if you mean..." in the first sentence because tablet computers aren't a new thing. There've been tablet PCs -- both slates and convertible laptops -- for many years with typically Microsoft Windows on it. I have one, a Thinkpad, and I never use it in tablet mode. Too heavy, and Windows as a tablet OS just doesn't work for me)
     
  3. wanderlust
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    wanderlust Silver Member

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    Yeah, I meant iPad-style devices (or Android). I agree that Windows on a tablet is a terrible experience, it's never been appealing. Thanks for the feedback.
     
  4. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    So to elaborate on what I use the iPad for most:

    At home: reading/sending emails, news (NY Times), RSS feeds, forums like this one
    On the road: movies ripped from DVD -- no need to worry about IFE anymore, all of the above

    The iPad hasn't replaced my laptops (plural), but I have gone on a few shorter trips with just the iPad (and iPhone) and not missed the laptop. If I do expect to do some work, I take my laptop.

    I have used the iPad as an eBook reader -- one book so far -- but much prefer my trusty old Sony Reader for that, because it works much better outdoors at the pool or beach. The LCD screens just aren't very usable for that.
     
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  5. Westsox
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    Westsox Gold Member

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    I love my new iPad. It is so much easier to carry than a laptop while traveling. I have started looking for reasons to carry the iPad rather than the laptop. Occasionally I still need to carry the laptop, but with adequate planning, I am able to leave the laptop at home.
     
  6. wanderlust
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    What do you mean by adequate planning? The impression I get is that it is difficult to do any serious "work" on a tablet, which is why I'm only considering one for leisure travel.
     
  7. Westsox
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    Westsox Gold Member

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    That is exactly what I mean by adequate planning, the iPad is not designed for serious work. If I am making a presentation, I will make sure I do not need to make changes prior to leaving and that all necessary AV equipment is available on location. If I will be working in an office, I will carry a zip drive with the necessary files I may need or use sugarsync to access files from a computer on location. Sometimes, you just need to have the laptop if you must get some work done.
     
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  8. TheMadBrewer
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    TheMadBrewer Silver Member

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    I bought Apple's wireless keyboard with my iPad. It does actually make it usable for some kinds of "serious" work. "Work" related uses (other than email) for me are:

    • Documentation Library. I use the GoodReader app for a large (and growing) reference library. Lots of documentation/books come as pdfs and it's nice to have them on a table -- usually much easier looking up things than on a laptop. Also great for travel documents -- reservation confirmation printouts, airport maps, train/bus schedules, etc.
    • Remote Control (Remote Desktop, VNC, LogMeIn, etc.) These apps are usually better with a keyboard but many of the apps can be surprisingly useful for "quick fixes" even with the touch keyboard. Not quite the same, but one of my clients uses Citrix and with the Citrix iPad app + keyboard I can do pretty much anything I could with a laptop.
    • Training videos, either thru YouTube (if online) or sometimes loading the video directly on the iPad, if available. I find it much more comfortable to sit a nice chair and the iPad on my lap. Or if it's the kind of thing where you need to take notes, you can position the iPad so you can comfortably write and still see the screen.
    (I say "iPad" because that is what I have but I'm sure lots of this is available on other platforms.)

    I also use it daily as a eBook reader and while traveling to catch up on TV shows I don't have time to watch (I have an EyeTV HD receiver on my Mac and over the air shows are recorded and automatically transferred to my iPad). I have done business trips with just the iPad (sans laptop) and the major drawback at the time was you could only have one app open at a time. That has changed now, so you can switch between apps.
     
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  9. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    Excellent recommendation (and app). I carry a nice library of presentations and reference books with me. Also some train and bus schedules.

    Work for me is developing software, so while I often have to remotely log into servers etc., the iPad really isn't quite sufficient for that, and developing code locally just isn't feasible. So if I plan to do work, I carry a laptop. But I just this afternoon "downsized" to a 13" MacBook Air (from a 15" MacBook Pro). Another few pounds shaved off of my travel backpack.

    For a little while, there was an app called MiTube available on the AppStore that let you download videos from YouTube onto your iPad/iPhone. Apple pretty quickly pulled it as it presumably violates Google policies, but I bet you can find a number of desktop apps that do the same thing. And yes, it's a great way of getting training videos/tutorials/... onto the iPad.

    While you can switch apps, it's really not quite the same as on a laptop where I can easily use a browser, quickly switch to my IM client and chat with a co-worker and compile code in the background. But yes, it works alright for a lot of other usecases.

    Do you have software for your EyeTV HD receiver to cut out the commercials? I used to have a free 3rd party tool that did that with my TiVo recordings, but it was Windows only.
     
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  10. TheMadBrewer
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    TheMadBrewer Silver Member

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    Actually, I downsized my old 13" MacBook Air to the new 11.6" MacBook Air. :). I too am a software developer, but 75% of the time I am working on a client's machine so I have used the iPad/keyboard for programming. Even did some "hot fixes" sans keyboard inflight thanks to GoGo. It was painful, though and I really deserved my Woodford after that.

    I use a third-party python tool called "Comskipper" that integrates well with EyeTV. After a show is finished recording Commskipper runs automatically and then the file is converted/compressed to iPad format (the native EyeTV files are around 7GB/hr so not suitable for the iPad)

    My blog is "Have Beer Will Travel" so we may have to have a conversation... :)
     
  11. bowdenj
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    bowdenj Active Member

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    I also love the iPad (we bought 180 for work and I snagged one!!!) - anyway I've had it since April and here's my primary uses: 1. News (WSJ, NYTimes, WashPo, CNN, Ongo, apps), 2. Audio: WABC, KFI640 (via iheartradio), AOL Radio, BBC, WIBC, scanner (5-0 radio); 3. Travel: Yelp, Kayak, Tripadvisor, gasbuddy, weatherbug, 4. Entertainment: twitter, facebook, hulu+, youtube, Fandango, one game: flight control (max score: 305).

    The battery capacity is amazing especially for transcons.

    People ask: I ALWAYS say yes - if you've got ~$600.00 to toss out then DEFINITELY buy one.
     
  12. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    I thought long and hard about the 11.6" MacBook Air. It's a beauty! I have a couple of netbooks, and in a pinch they work for programming, but it's just not efficient enough for a decent IDE running locally. And my eyes start hurting after starring at the screen for too long. So the 13" model it was for me.

    In the office, I have a 27" LCD, so the screen really doesn't matter, but I am planning to do more work away from the desk.

    Thanks, I'll look into that.

    Can you guess what mine is? (bit stale right now)
     
  13. TheMadBrewer
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    The 11.6" MacBook Air is not a netbook! The keyboard is the same size as the 13" and the screen is only slightly smaller (a shade over an inch in each dimension) and runs Xcode perfectly fine. And you save over a half a pound of weight. Doesn't sound like much but I stopped carrying my Rev A MacBook Air lots of places because it was too big and heavy.

    But enjoy your new MacBook Air -- it is a great machine no matter which size. I just smile when I see somebody who' has one shoulder significantly lower than the other from lugging a huge laptop around :)
     
  14. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    Well, I have never particularly liked the term netbook as I don't really know what it is supposed to mean (vs. small laptop). The primary reasons why I picked the 13" model are higher screen resolution and longer battery life. And the SD slot is nice. I'll save a bit of weight when I am out and about by not having to carry the charger as much. At least that's the hope.

    I've always been a fan of lightweight/small laptops. The 15" MBP is my biggest laptop ever. It's nice, but I don't like taking it on trips.

    Back on topic, though -- some more advice for the OP:

    if you are interested in getting a tablet, I'd not run out to the stores right now to buy one. Apple is expected to announce and then pretty soon release the new iPad 2. Several Honeycomb-based Android tablets are announced and coming out soon. HP has the TouchPad coming out in the summer, which looks great to me (but we'll have to see how commercially successful it is at that point in time). RIM will launch the PlayBook soon, which I saw at CES and liked until I read about the limitation of calendaring and email at least initially requiring you to have a Blackberry phone.

    Here's another parallel thread with more discussion on this topic that might be valuable:

    http://milepoint.com/forums/threads/anyone-getting-one-of-the-new-tablets.1036/
     
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  15. wanderlust
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    wanderlust Silver Member

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    Good advice. I'm definitely taking a wait-and-see approach. The slate of nearly identical Honeycomb Android tablets from LG/Motorola/Toshiba/Samsung seem intriguing, and I know that Apple refreshes most of their products yearly. I'm very price-sensitive however, so I figure that'll play a large part in what tablet I eventually get.
     
  16. Concerto
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    Concerto Gold Member

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    I received an iPad (from my Santa! [​IMG]) for Christmas and absolutely love it! Soooooo handy for traveling with access to books, video, music and whatever else tickles one's fancy! IOW, I wouldn't be without it!!
     
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  17. mht_flyer
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    mht_flyer Gold Member

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    When traveling for leisure (like right now on my way home from a long weekend in DUB), I only bring my iPad.

    Why kill my back with my Mac book pro, external drive and cables, no thanks!

    I only carry my full laptop (and iPad) when traveling for business.

    iPad isn't perfect, but it meets my needs during my leisure trips.
     
  18. RSSrsvp
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    RSSrsvp Silver Member

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    IMHO the long battery life on these tablet computers are an extremely important point to consider.
     
  19. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    I have a 13" laptop that I often do not take on trips because my iPad does all I need. I suspect I'll never buy another laptop, just use my present one when I really need the word processing or computing power. The combination of Kindle and iPad is perfect for over 90% of my use.
     
  20. flying-gal
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    flying-gal Silver Member

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    I'd love to get an Ipad2.
    I've never used an apple product but after hearing so many positives about them, I want to see for myself. [​IMG]

    Daughter, raves about the Iphone and her apple computer.
    She is assuring me that the transition from Windows to Apple is very smooth and fast.
    Think that is what scared me the most, after years of MS use.

    What is the routine with Ipads at security checks ... is it the same as our laptops?
     
  21. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    TSA says on its website that you can leave it in your bag, unlike your website laptop.

    In practice, when I do that I have about a 30% chance that my bag will require special inspection (i.e., they open it up, take out the iPad and some other goodies out and xray them separately again). That's possibly because I tend to have other electronics (a couple phones, lots of cables, camera, ...) in the same bag. So I have come to the conclusion that it's just easier for me to pull it out.

    In other countries they may still require you to xray it separately (TSA rules don't apply in, say, Germany).
     
  22. sniklec
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    sniklec Silver Member

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    In nearly a year of traveling with it (in the US) I've never had to take it out of its sleeve or the bag in which I carry it. This bag also always contains at least an iPhone, a digital camera, and various cables.
     
  23. flying-gal
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    flying-gal Silver Member

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    Thanks for these replies, I appreciate it.

    I rarely fly through the USA. Most of my travel is across Canada and through LHR.
    LHR seems to be pretty insistent on taking everything out. [​IMG]
     
  24. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    I traveled in the UK and Ireland the last two weeks with a netbook, and had friends along that I convinced to bring their iPad with them (they were reluctant and now they are sold). They seemed to have no problem connecting to wi-fi networks and were pretty surprised at how fast it processed their e-mail.

    Can you or anyone else here comment about the ability of an iPad to store and upload photos? Is there some way to move a couple hundred photos from a camera memory card onto the iPad to label them individually, or a word processor on board to write trip reports or lengthy e-mails and store/edit them before sending?
     
  25. hulagrrl210
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    hulagrrl210 Gold Member

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    i prefer iphone + hp mini. best of both worlds, apple apps + windows and a real keyboard and the mini is still small enough to fit into a purse
     

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