Tablet only living—A geek travelling light

In about a week’s time I’m taking off on a sabbatical. I’m fortunate enough to have employers who have agreed to let me off the leash for a few weeks, so I’m making the most of it.

On the road again, and learning to be more like a car than a truck


I’m using the opportunity to take myself off on a journey that will take me from Berlin to Bangkok, from Paris to Paro. But this isn’t just a grand tour where I’m off to ‘find myself’ (although I will be travelling to PBH)—I’m also using this as an experiment in tablet-only living.

For most of us, being connected all the time is as natural as breathing the air around us. A typical day for me involves checking emails on my ‘phone in the morning, working on my laptop during the day, and watching tv on the ipad at night. What happens if you take the laptop away? Do we need to have a laptop to be a functioning (and contributing) member of digital society? When Steve Jobs was interviewed about this a couple of years ago, he likened the relationship of tablets to PC’s as that between trucks and cars:

“When we were an agrarian nation, all vehicles were trucks…. but as we moved to a more urban society, now most people use cars, so that now something like one in every twenty five vehicles is a truck. PC’s are like trucks.” —Steve Jobs

I couldn’t agree with this more. I’ve seen how people have moved from having a desktop PC at home, to having a laptop—before long I should imagine its rare to see anything other than a tablet in the house. I can imagine a similar shift for many people at their workplace over time. Right now, the tablet is still in it’s nascent form in terms of both software and hardware. We are starting to see reasonable content creation apps becoming available (I’m writing this post on one now). As I’ve been planning my trip, I’ve tried to predict what sort of scenarios I might find myself in, and setting up my ipad in preparation for that. I’ll share these over the next couple of weeks as I get my stuff together for the trip.
I couldn’t agree with this more. I’ve seen how people have moved from having a desktop PC at home, to having a laptop—before long I should imagine its rare to see anything other than a tablet in the house. I can imagine a similar shift for many people at their workplace over time. Right now, the tablet is still in it’s nascent form in terms of both software and hardware. We are starting to see reasonable content creation apps becoming available (I’m writing this post on one now). As I’ve been planning my trip, I’ve tried to predict what sort of scenarios I might find myself in, and setting up my ipad in preparation for that. I’ll share these over the next couple of weeks as I get my stuff together for the trip.

“The greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” —Bill Bryson

I’m excited to travel. Not just to parts of the world I haven’t been before, but also to find out what makes for a good tablet lifestyle. As Bill Bryson said in the quote above, one of the great rewards of travel is to experience everyday things anew. I think this is just as true for my digital journey as for the physical trip I’m going on. What I’m looking forward to are the unexpected changes in online behavior—both positive and negative—that will suggest interesting opportunities to differentiate and enhance tablet-living away from it’s PC roots.

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3 Comments

  1. Jimbo99
    Posted May 16, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    I’m going to try this myself with an HTC Flyer 7″ Android tablet. I think it can be done with the right bag of gadgets to be able to connect to other peripheral devices.

  2. Glenn Attridge
    Posted July 9, 2012 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    Interesting post. As a recent tablet owner I’m struggling to make this leap also. I find there are many aspects of a tablet that frustrate me, most of them to do with speed and efficiency of simply entering & editing text. Wondering if you’ve encountered some of the same challenges? ie. the duplication of your fourth paragraph above?

    • Paul Barnes-Hoggett
      Posted July 11, 2012 at 11:09 am | Permalink

      Ha! good spot Glenn.
      So I have to say, if you’re doing a significant amount of writing on the tablet, get a decent keyboard and go from there. In another post I mentioned how I ended up going with a regular Apple bluetooth keyboard and it was the best decision I made.

      In fact, right now I’m back in New York, but still using the iPad / keyboard setup to catch up with posting to travels.eyefodder.com Even though it’s sitting in front of my desktop machine, I prefer the lack of distractions and simpler interface of my photo editing (SnapSeed) and blog posting(Tumblita) apps.

      There are two things that bugged me while travelling with this setup. One was the fact that you can’t use the Tumblr email API to send something to the queue (this is a one company issue though so won’t affect many) and the other was that you can’t shoot video in AVCHD and import / edit it on the iPad.

One Trackback

  1. By Choosing an external keyboard for the ipad on February 13, 2012 at 6:26 am

    [...] Skip to content How long will your project take? « Tablet only living—A geek travelling light An external keyboard for the iPad; making the right choice By Paul Barnes-Hoggett | Published: [...]

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