Laptop or smart tablet on the road? - Fiberglass RV

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Old 06-20-2012, 05:38 AM   #1
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Laptop or smart tablet on the road?

While I only plan to take my Fiberstream on a few weekend trips this Summer, I am planning to head to Montana this September to pick up my 2nd Fiberstream. I plan my travel South through the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, to Red Rocks- and think I can hit the Ohio rally Sept 28th weekend on my way back home to NE PA. Right now I have an I-phone with the FGRV forum app installed. I'd love a bigger screen, perhaps a keyboard adapter if I chose a smart tablet. Eventually Id like to be able to watch movies- I do have a netflix account. What are any recommendations? Im thinking I may want to install a flat screen in the FGRV so my husband and I dont have to hover over a 7 inch smart tablet, but believe nowadays, I can usb the tablet to the larger screen. I want to accomplish a few things: have internet access w the ability to type, not text, be able to watch movies, and if possible, be able to listen to my choice of music. I do have Sirius satallite so I can listen to Sirius channels via the web. I know its a tall order, but maybe someone on this site can give me some insight before I start purchasing items I dont need. Thanks!

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Old 06-20-2012, 06:51 AM   #2
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We travel with an ipad, many campgrounds have Wifi, as do most McDonalds, Burger Kings, and many restaurants, and I was recently told that many car dealers do too. We have a 19" flat screen tv and use a Winegard foldable antenna when cable hookup is not available.

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Old 06-20-2012, 06:59 AM   #3
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I think there are really a few different considerations here to decide.
First it depends on which general screen size and form factor you are most comfortable with?
A laptop came easily have a big enough screen to be your only device for 2 people to see where a tablet is challenged for that.
Also laptops are really much more powerful and capable in every way other than portability maybe.
They are faster,have more Memory,storage and compatibility with more software and hardware.

The other factor is how you will get internet access on the road?
You can easily find a tablet with a broadband modem built-in but these are not really the ideal hardware for the often marginal signal we can expect at many camping destinations where as a separate broadband modem can have far greater ability to receive a weak signal and be enhanced to help if needed.

If you have no internet access and need to be able to store movies then again a laptop is much more capable and wont require another device like a tablet may.

You can also use a TV tuner card with a laptop to watch TV if you can receive it although I would just stick a TV in the trailer so it is always there and can also be the 2nd bigger screen if you need it too.

I have and use an iPad a lot and love it but if I need just one device to go on the road it is a laptop every time.

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Old 06-20-2012, 07:38 AM   #4
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I would look at internet plans and then decide. If you are on the road for a long time, having a wireless data plan for you computer is probably comparable in price to having one for an ipad or other tablet. If you only use it periodically, then being able to buy only limited amounts of data at a time is probably more practical and you may or may not be able to do that with an aircard.

I have virtually turned my ipad into a laptop with the recent addition of a Zaggfolio. It's a case with bluetooth keyboard and stand built in. I love this thing! But for me it is no contest as I have the old (and shortlived) unlimited ipad data plan. If I could get that with my laptop, I'd use a laptop in camp. But for actual "on the road" I love the ipad (though I have to admit the Zaggfolio doesn't work well when I'm sitting in a ferry line with a steering wheel in front of me.)
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Old 06-20-2012, 08:40 AM   #5
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I have used my laptop a lot for a number of years while traveling. One thing I found was that while watching movies the power cord was in someones way as they came and went and the laptop almost went flying to many times. Was always looking for a safe place to store it while traveling etc. Ended up mounting a small flat screen in the corner and putting a DVD player into the overhead bin to avoid that. Since doing that I only use my iphone for email etc. and dont bring the laptop. I have been looking at a tablets though as my eyes are telling me I am getting old.....
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Old 06-20-2012, 08:43 AM   #6
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iPad Recommendation

Like you I have an iPhone, a 4S without a tethering plan. As matter of fact I choose ATT as my carrier because at that time they had the lowest priced data plan - 200 MB per month. With two phones this saved $240 a year compared to Verizon. That said, this is the first month out of the last 9 that I am close to using my 200 MB, if I do, and I only have two days left, it will cost me $15. Big deal.

On the phone I check weather the most, email, and use Evernote frequently. If I am desperate I surf the net for some "needed" information, but you know how limiting that can be. I try to use dicatation with email and find it works quite well.

We also cary an iPad, without a data plan so it is limited to locations with wifi. The iPad is the model before the current model. I have considered an external keyboard for the iPad and just cannot come up with a time it seemed necessary. With dictation and the on screen keyboard it works fine.

Now the compelling reason for the iPad, it synchs so well with the phone. Email could be on both devices, or you could have seperate accounts. Both will connect to iCloud and you can have the same calendar, contacts, apps with data on both devices. I have Evernote on my home desktop, iPhone and iPad. The exact data is synched to the cloud and is on all three devices. With so many wifi spots we have not missed a phone data connection on the iPad.

Finally, there is not a need to lean a new method of setting things up, the IOS is almost identical between devices.
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Old 06-20-2012, 08:43 AM   #7
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My thoughts are pretty much along the line of Ed's. First I would have a laptop, secondly a smaller tablet. Both are great for different things. I use Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, and they will not run on a tablet. I also use other software for work that will only run on a computer, but I imagine those priorities will change when I retire in a few years. Plus, I want as large of a viewing area as possible most of the time. We use a USB tuner with the laptop for TV too, though rarely actually watch.

Tablets are great for on the road though. The passenger can use them to find information, or routes to where you want to go. They are much nicer to carry about too, often fitting in a purse or pack real easy.
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Old 06-20-2012, 09:58 AM   #8
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iPad and a mifi are very nice on the road. However, if you want to down load video, best find free wifi. Also I know some like to rent a DVD for the night. Not an option with the iPad. Raz
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Old 06-20-2012, 10:03 AM   #9
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I use a small apple laptop, just so we can use it for DVD's also. The other thing you can do if you use an Ipad is get an external DVD player/burner then you can do both, but like someone else mentioned you still have a small screen for watching DVD's.
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Old 06-20-2012, 10:07 AM   #10
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I found streaming TV shows to the iPhone to not be reliable while traveling either on a local wifi or 3G/4G and worse on the iPad. It kept going to low res or cutting out altogether. The best I could do was download the Wall Street Journal.

I suggest DVDs.
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Old 06-20-2012, 11:14 AM   #11
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Don't expect your I-phone to work all the places your going! Service will be spoty in Montana depending on who your provider is. Verizon is best in Montana! Unless your in the larger city's. But all providers have gotten better coverage up there over the last couple of years. But it still can be spotty.

And Tetons, Red Rocks areas can have iffy service, but certainly better than Montana.
In the mountains it's always a gamble.

Personally, I always travel with a flat screen and small dvd player and a set of rabbit ears. Of course many campground provide cable and wifi, but many in those areas still don't, due to such a small seasonal window.

And frankly there are still places in the country that cable and wifi are not accessable..................... So I have found the old fashion way still works despite modern technology.

I have watched many a person stand on a rock or knoll to get cell reception from their providers, Don't move or turn cause you will lose the call! so don't expect to be hooked up at all times. If your big on watching movies everynight, cover your base's. Take it all with you! If not, then get out and enjoy the beautiful sights. Fall in Montana is beautiful! remember your on the very edge of the mountain time zone, so it stays lighter longer. Lot's to see and do. Frankly my favorite time of year in Montana!
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Old 06-20-2012, 11:25 AM   #12
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we each have our kindles for reading... and a dell laptop with 3g wireless for connectivity when available,,and movies, and writing a log of our adventures,,,and uploading our pictures to organise for sharing. even listening to musuc threw the extra speaker system we got for it. takes no space to mention, and could even be upgraded to watch television if we had time for such things.

nice thing about it is you can stop at pretty muchany coffee shop or truck stop or a lot of places and hook up to internbet to comunicate with friends and family
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Old 06-20-2012, 02:44 PM   #13
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I have a high end Sony Laptop and an Android tablet (Hacked Nook eReader running full android). I have both a 4G LTE Verizon wifi data "puck" and the hotspot option on my Android phone. The laptop take lot's of power to charge, so I try to keep it topped up with a DC DC power supply, more efficient than inverters, while I'm towing. But soon I hope to get that solar going. The laptop, even on direct DC power will drain my group 24, 80AH battery surprisingly fast. Tablets will generally use much less power than a laptop, but there are very power efficient laptops too. Big huge desktop replacement laptops will probably use almost as much power as a hungry desktop.
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Old 06-20-2012, 02:48 PM   #14
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If I have a good 4G signal, the Verizon service is very, very fast and streaming is not a problem. 3G will even stream fine with a good signal. In fact it's so fast I can gobble up my data plan and incur huge overage fees very easily. So be careful! Voice coverage on Verizon is MUCH better on the road than T-Mobile.

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