Taking the tablets?

For many years,  I’ve always associated the words tablet/tablets with something that you take when you’re ill, got a hangover or are on preventative medicine.

Or with the name of a distinctive Scottish confection that I indulge in when I’m north of the border or in an enlightened shop that’s below that line…

In recent years though, it’s come to mean something else. Caroline and I first looked at Apple iPads and Kindle Fire tablets back in 2012 when we were wandering around Glasgow for a few days.

We decided to give them a miss though as we couldn’t justify the purchase of one or two such items at the time. We both had smartphones, we used guidebooks, Kindle e-readers and digital compact cameras, so we didn’t need tablets.

There have been quite a few times when we’ve seen people using them in hostels, around town, in the grounds of stately homes and in museums such as The National Motor Museum in Hampshire (Old Hampshire, UK, not New Hampshire, USA!).

We’ve also taken the mickey out of some users as they try to use their iPad whilst watching a movie on a big screen in a hostel (and while also checking out anti-social media on their iPhones at the same time).

So why have I just gone out and bought an Apple iPad Mini 2?

Because it’s got to the point where I need to be able to view or update wisepacking.me when we’re on the road.

Or check out emails, the news or weather forecasts before we move on towards our next destination.

Or need a back-up camera just in case the Nikon digital compact packs up when we’re on the road (like the Lumix that stopped short, never to go again when we were in Portugal back in 2013).

Or when I/we fancy listening to some music on iTunes.

Some hostels, guest houses and hotels have computers for residents to use, but more have Wi-Fi. As do various shops, cafes, tourist attractions trains and buses.

The iPad Mini is a Wi-Fi only one, so usage is going to be for research purposes rather than bookings or purchases at this moment in time.

My iPad Mini has just one extra app on it at the moment and that’s the Kindle one. Whilst most of my Kindle books are on my basic 2012 Kindle, I’ve downloaded some of my travel books onto the iPad Mini 2 to evaluate the usefulness of having such books on the machine.

Whilst navigation is easier than the push buttons on that basic Kindle and there’s colour photos and maps to look at and pull or pinch as needed, I’m going to give it a little bit of a test against the Kindle and the paper version of at least one guidebook in the coming weeks to see whether it’s easier to check information out electronically or on paper.

As it stands at the moment though, two things spring to mind…

The paper guidebook may mark you out as a tourist if you whip it out in the middle of the street or in a bar or cafe, but the hardware may (or may not) mark you out as a tourist with a target on your back for the ne’er do wells/thieving barstools of this world.

The other one is much more basic though.

Paper guidebooks don’t need to be recharged – unlike the iPad Mini (around 10 hours use before charging according to what I’ve read so far) or that elderly basic Kindle (at least two weeks of use between charges if I’m in a heavy reading mood and there are books to match the mood).

So, time will tell, but one thing’s for certain.

You can’t watch a Noel Gallagher concert on a guidebook or a basic Kindle, but you can on an iPad Mini 2 if you click on the iPlayer button on the BBC‘s website…

I’ll come back to this subject in the New Year by the way.

And just in case you’re wondering why I went for Apple and not Android, it’s quite simple.

I’ve used Apple machines for around 26 years now and had an Android phone for four years. The Android smartphone was switched off and laid to rest in April 2015 when it was replaced by a more basic talk and text phone.

The result? Less hassle and a week between battery top ups!



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About Keith Rickaby

I’m a writer and photographer who has worked in the tailoring trade and the outdoor/travel clothing, equipment and footwear game. Past lives include working as an outdoor instructor, managing three bands and doing PR work through an agency or my own contacts. Was a student in the mid-90s and whilst I'm originally from the North East, I'm now based in Yorkshire & back out there working for a travel and outdoor activity based retailer.
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