I’ve had a weird relationship with technology, especially when it comes to computers. I was an early adapter only once, when my dad bought me an Apple IIc for Christmas 1984. 1 I avoided getting an email address until 2000, and while I’ve used computers since then, I have never truly purchased one for myself—I mostly used work computers, computers at places I frequented, or “hand-me-down” laptops.
So getting a new device is a big deal for me.
I’ve owned a tablet once before, way back in the before time of 2015. I figured it would come in handy for things like bike touring or travel in general. More compact than a laptop, but bigger than a phone. I got a pretty basic Nexus tablet for cheap. It did come in handy when I traveled east for the Lake Pepin Tour that year, and with an accessory SD card reader I was able to edit photos from my Canon PowerShot camera while I was taking the train home. The Nexus tablet was faster than the aging circa 2009 netbook I took custody of when April and I split up. 2 But within a year the tablet was just as bad, if not worse than that netbook, so I basically gave up on it.
Over the past couple years, despite a global pandemic, the idea of a tablet appealed to me again. I knew I would be doing travels when it would be safe to do so, and it would be nice to have something in between phone and laptop. Phones are great and all, but I prefer small ones, so squinting at a small screen gets old. Lugging around a laptop is cumbersome.
Then Emee got a new iPad and decided to pass along her old one to me. This was much appreciated, as I much preferred getting another Apple device, but never liked paying Apple price devices. I’ve used it a bit and like it, but it’s not the “end all, be all”. I feel like apps for tablets have gotten better since my time with the Nexus, most are optimized for the bigger screen. But of course, not all apps: several open up at smartphone screen sizes, including Instagram. 3 (Flickr’s tablet app is definitely better, though.) And even with a Bluetooth keyboard typing is never as good as on a laptop. So much for tablets being the “next evolutionary step” in computing.
Since I’ve moved back to film photography, the iPad isn’t as useful for photo-editing, though with my external SD card reader to lightning connection I could edit film photos I scanned with my Kodak Scanza. Where the tablet will come in most useful is for reading from the internet or PDFs, or blogging on the go. In fact, to prove the point, this post was (mostly) composed using the WordPress app on my iPad, typed using a pretty decent Bluetooth keyboard. This isn’t as big of a deal for short trips or bike tours, where I blog pretty far after the fact. But this can come in useful if I do another long tour at some point. The iPad fits nicely in my handlebar bag. I got nothing planned at the moment, but who knows?
And adding an iPad to my digital arsenal means I currently own three iDevices: iPad, iPhone, and my positively aging iPod Touch. No iWatch in the future, as I like analog watches way too much for that!
1 This was right after my parents split. Even to a nine year old, it was nakedly apparent that this was his attempt to “win me” and look better than my mom.
2 This was the netbook we bought to take with us on our Big Tour. It worked fine in 2011, but by 2015 it sounded like hamsters were spinning in a wheel inside it. I got the netbook because April had her own laptop.
3 Instagram is the only app I know of where the phone app is more functional than the desktop version. I’m sure there’s other ones out there.
So what smaller phone are you using? I’m still (I should say again) on the 2016 iPhone SE. It’s holding up fine (I did stop updating it a while back), but I’m thinking ahead to the point where mobile carriers stop supporting it.
I’ve got a circa 2017 iPhone 8. Still works fine for now.
Tablets are useful for larger viewing, yet small enough too bring along on adventures. My laptop is for when I need to type a lot, my phone is for taking pictures and quick social media viewing. My 8″ Amazon Fire tablet (6 years old?) I use quite a lot! I watch Netflix, check and respond to email, order items, and also for social media, plus it has a 10 hour battery life. The 8″ size is perfect for me. If this one dies, I’m getting another Fire 8.
Exactly! My laptop battery has about three hours of life at best, I love the longer battery of a tablet.