ultra portable laptop vs tablet for the traveling photographer (1 of 2)

Started Jul 14, 2011 | Discussions thread
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larsbc Forum Pro • Posts: 16,814
ultra portable laptop vs tablet for the traveling photographer (1 of 2)

Prior to a 2-week sight-seeing trip to the east coast, I was torn between buying an iPad or Android tablet vs. buying a more powerful netbook. These were the things I wanted to be able to do:

1. Perform daily back ups from my cameras’ SD cards to a hard-drive. I estimated 8-12gb worth of video clips and raw format images.
2. Connect to the Internet to check my mail and look up information.

3. Store useful information on the device such as flight and hotel reservations, contact information, etc.
4. Watch movies to entertain my family.
5. View images and video clips made during our trip.

6. Use Lightroom to tag the images during the trip, rather than waiting until I got when, when I might forget some of the details.
7. Keep a journal of our trip.
8. Play games for our kids.

9. Have a device small enough that I could carry in a small bag that I could quickly turn on and use to access available wifi service.

10. Use navigation software that would work when I had no Internet access (I wasn’t prepared to pay for out-of-country roaming charges or buy a local data plan).

Not all of these things were requirements. If a tablet could do most of those things, I would get one because, to be honest, I was smitten by the sheer sexiness of tablet devices, particularly the iPad’s excellent user interface (I already had an iPhone which I was really impressed with). But the more I looked into it, the more I came to realize that I would be better off with the practical but boring feature set of a small laptop.

1. Backing up SD cards was a requirement. An iPad might’ve worked but I would have to get one with a sizable amount of built-in storage, which would cost a lot. It’d have to have enough space for my images, video clips, and still have enough room for movies, games and other apps. The iPad would also require an external adapter to hookup an SD card reader.

My other tablet consideration was an Android device. Some of them feature built-in SD card slots, but I’d still have to pay for the more expensive models with lots of built-in storage, or else use an external HD.

In contrast, virtually all netbooks and ultra portable laptops featured 80gb or larger hard drives and built-in SD card slots.
Advantage: laptop

2. Connecting to the Internet over wifi would be easy with a tablet or a laptop. But I’ve been in some hotels where they only provided Internet access via an ethernet cable. Most laptops have ethernet ports so they would be fine. But with a tablet, I’d either have to find an ethernet-> USB adapter (that had the appropriate driver for the tablet) or get one of those mini wifi routers.
Advantage: laptop

3. iOS, Android, and Windows all have apps that are suitable for storing information off-line. Advantage: draw

4. Tablets and laptops play movies equally well. The tablets tend to have contrastier screens which look much better. But they’re shiny, unlike the matte screen on the laptop I ended up buying. The laptop also has a built-in HDMI port which many tablets don’t have, although some have an optional HDMI port adapter that can be plugged in. But for traveling, the HDMI port seemed to be more an advantage on paper than in practical use, because even though some of the hotels we stayed at had HD TVs, they didn’t have HDMI input ports. The laptop is also easier for viewing movies because it’s easy to position the screen for easy viewing even when sitting in your lap.
Advantage: draw

5. For viewing images and watching video clips made during the trip, I’m going to have to give the advantage to the tablets, due to their nicer screens, which makes it easier to evaluate an image’s quality. But that only applies to jpeg images. I primarily shoot in raw and I don’t know if iOS or Android have any apps that can convert my raw images.
Advantage: tablet

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