Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Travel computing ...

I'm back from five weeks away, travelling to Vienna, Budapest, Slovenia and Croatia.

Over the years I've agonised about whether a tablet can truly replace a laptop for computing while travelling. I now have the definitive answer - it can (but with a couple of caveats).

I took a little seven inch Samsung tablet with me and the same netbook I took to Sri Lanka in 2013, albeit upgraded to Xubuntu from Windows 7.

The netbook spent most of the trip in its travel bag. I thought we might end up in a couple of hotels with only fixed internet, but in the event free wifi was everywhere - most strikingly in Croatia where cafes made it available by default, and hotels all had pretty zippy wifi (and for free).

The only time the netbook saw serious use was to back up camera SD cards to Dropbox.  I had thought I might do some writing while I was away, but in the event I didn't - which had been my main reason for taking the netbook in the first place.

I did still keep a travel journal, but as I've always done, I wrote my notes in longhand in a Moleskine notebook - incidentally the same one I've been using since my Laos trip in 2005.

I did end up using the netbook to book trains on both Deutsche Bahn and its Austrian equivalent OBB - purely because both companies' english language web sites were easier to use with a mouse and a keyboard rather than via an emulated tablet keyboard that covered half the screen.

Now I don't doubt that both DB and OBB have excellent applications, but as an occasional user, like one who need to make two bookings and amend another, I'm going to use the website rather than download and install the apps, especially as I can use it in English.

The same goes for booking a flight on Adria - I could have done it using Expedia's app, but it was cheaper to book directly, and again their English language site worked better on a laptop.

There is a follow up to this - I failed to find somewhere to print the booking confirmation docket, so at check in showed the clerk a pdf copy on my tablet which he was happy to accept.

So, for even quite a long trip, you can basically do everything you want with a tablet provided you've got wifi.

For a business trip it depends what you're doing. If you need spreadsheets and numbers undoubtedly a laptop. For reviewing documents, a full size tablet and a decent hardback notebook would probably do ...