What Technology to Take on a Cycle Tour – To iPad or not to iPad

Ok, so I’m planning on a cycle tour of Wales later this month, and I’m starting to think about what I need to take with me. I’ve done a quick test pack to see what I can get in the panniers, and find that I can use one pannier for clothing, and the other for most of the tent and sleeping bag, with the bedroll and poles strapped across the top of the rack bag. The tent could go across the top as well if necessary, freeing up a pannier for spare clothing, food, and even cooking equipment. I’ve also refitted the handlebar bag, although this creates problems with the fitting of a front light. I’ve ordered a fork mount for the light to see if that works as an alternative.

One thing that I always like to take with me on any trip is some sort of computer to allow me to keep up with emails etc, and just as a source of entertainment. Now that I have an iPhone, this is proving to be more capable that I’d expected, with only the limited screen size being its main drawback. This actually doesn’t cause much problem in terms of content consumption, but for content creation the limited size of the on-screen keyboard is a real handicap. That’s why I took the iPad to France with me, as it made blogging so much easier. With the upcoming Welsh trip, because I’ll be camping, it will be that much more of a challenge to keep separate devices charged. I’ll have to rely on snatching an hour here or there in a cafe or pub, assuming they’ll let me. The iPhone is indispensable in terms of its use as a phone and GPS, so that has to come along.

I’m therefore thinking that I can manage without the iPad as long as I can fit in a Bluetooth keyboard. The Apple Wireless Keyboard is perfect in this respect – from a volume and weight perspective its smaller than the iPad, and runs for months on two AA batteries. Having the keyboard will mean that I can bash out a good number of words, far quicker than I could on the iPad keyboard. I already have issues with the iPad keyboard not recognising all of my key-presses as I type fast enough that often two fingers are down at the same time, which it interprets as an error and discounts the second press. That is then compounded by the spelling checker turning the words into something completely different without a quick way of undoing, even if you notice in time.

So, with the iPhone alone, I’ll still be able to do email, blog, Twitter, navigation, and editing of the Eurovelo story (via PlainText), and of course web browsing. The Post-PC days do certainly appear to be slowly arriving, although granted I’m not trying to develop software on these trips. I’ll save that for another challenge!




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