I’ve come to accept that I’ll never be a carry-on only traveler. I’ve tried it three times now, and I don’t like it, for reasons I’ve outlined before. For me, checking my suitcase and just bringing my backpack on the plane as a carry-on makes for a much easier flying experience.
Except it hasn’t been so easy lately. Ever since I became a blogger, my backpack has been getting heavier and heavier. It went from being filled with a change of clothing, overnight necessities, some snacks and a book, to being filled with all of those things PLUS my DSLR camera, my point and shoot camera, my cell phone, my netbook, all my chargers and cords, a journal for jotting down notes, etc. I swear to God it must weigh 25 pounds.
Eventually, I ditched the spare change of clothes in my carry-on. I had to do something to lighten the backpack and it wasn’t like I could check my camera or netbook, could I? That didn’t work out so well for me in August when I missed my connection in Chicago and was forced to stay overnight with just what I carried on the plane with me while my checked suitcase was held hostage by the airline. Oops.
It was time to lighten the load. I might not be able to go carry-on only, I thought, but surely there must be a way to lighten up that carry-on to make room for necessities like fresh clothes.
One of the heaviest items in my backpack is my DSLR camera. But I’m sure as hell not traveling without that. The Toshiba netbook, though. . . that sucker weighs almost 3 pounds. It’s cheaply made, has a lousy display and an annoying interface that I can’t permanently disable. And I was starting to view it as a ball and chain.
But doggone it, I’m a blogger! I need Internet access when I travel to check email, create quick blog posts, engage in social media, and upload travel photos. I have to bring a laptop or netbook, I thought. Don’t I?
Maybe I didn’t.
I couldn’t completely unplug on my travels, but I decided it was time to downsize to a tablet. The biggest complaint I’d read about tablets seemed to be difficulty writing with them and/or a lack of USB port for uploading photos. But surely, I thought, some company had to have solved those problems by now. I decided to take the chance. After a lot of research into what was important to me in a tablet, I bought the 7” Samsung Galaxy Tab 2.
Please excuse me while I squee like a teenager over her first car.
Did it lighten my load? You bet!
Compared to the Toshiba’s nearly 3 lb weight, the Samsung weighs about 12 oz. It’s allowed me to replace not just the netbook, but also the paperbacks I’ve been bringing with me to read on the plane. See?
As a gadget user, I’m in love
It’s the perfect cross between a cell phone and a laptop. I can do everything on this tablet that I’ve been doing on my cell phone (except use it as a phone, though I suppose I could do that, too, with Skype)–surf the web, check the weather, use apps, read email, and use social media. I could listen to music on it if I wanted to. And because the screen is so much bigger than a cell phone, it’s easier to see everything.
I’ve been a holdout when it comes to Kindles and e-readers, preferring to stick to paperbacks. Well, no more. I primarily use my tablet to read books, and I adore it for that purpose. At 7″, it’s about the same size as a paperback, which makes it perfectly comfortable to hold for long periods of time. But it’s better than a paperback: 100 books take up the same physical space as just one. I can enlarge the font size of books I’m reading and increase the screen brightness–both of which make it so much easier on my aging eyes.
I am especially impressed with the crispness of the screen quality. Everything looks so much better on the tablet than they do on my 13″ Macbook Pro, believe it or not. (Pinterest and Facebook photos especially look great.) I can watch movies on it, and the sound quality is also very good. (I use the Amazon video library, so movies don’t take up memory on the tablet.) Granted, I have no basis for comparison when it comes to other tablets, but compared to all the other gadgets I’ve ever used to access the Internet, it’s a winner.
With a simple adaptor, it allows me USB port access to upload photos from my camera’s memory cards (or to plug in a portable keyboard or mouse if I so choose at a later date). It came with 16GB memory, expandable to 32GB with an additional microSD card. So far, I’ve been relying on free wifi, but I could purchase a data plan with it if I want to. And it was much cheaper than an iPad.
But even the best of relationships has its challenges.
While the Galaxy Tab is a joy to me as a traveler, it frustrated the blogger in me a bit.
The one blog post I needed to publish during my trip was already written, so all I needed to do was hit “publish”. Thank God. Because if I had to type an entire blog post while on the road, it would take forever if I didn’t buy a separate keyboard for it (which I haven’t done yet). Then again, I didn’t know there was a WordPress app at the time. I was logging in via the regular website. Which brings me to. . . .
Most of my problems with the tablet were clearly user error. I hadn’t had much time to play with it prior to my trip, so I think I need to spend some quality time with the user manual. For instance, I could not for the life of me bring up the function to copy and paste. (The function exists, I just couldn’t figure out how to do it. And naturally, I had downloaded the user manual onto my Macbook Pro and not my Galaxy Tab. Fat lot of good that did me when I was on the road!)
I tested the photo editing capabilities of the Galaxy Tab this weekend. It’s not Photoshop, obviously, but for a tablet, it’s pretty good! Under Photo Gallery, you click on Edit and it pulls up options to rotate, resize, crop, adjust brightness, hue, contrast, saturation, and apply a few effects, such as filters (Sepia, Vintage, Beauty, etc.). You can then share the photos via social media. Nice!
I also gave the WordPress app a whirl—including the dictation function. While it doesn’t get everything right, if you speak slowly and clearly, it gets most of it right. You just have to edit a little bit. Again, I’m impressed. Though I think I’d still rather type a blog post. My fingers are a lot faster than that microphone.
Despite how cumbersome blogging from the road might be, I adore this tablet (possibly more than my Macbook Pro). Goodbye netbook, don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out. I will be traveling with this tablet from now on.
If I were a long-term traveler (or long-term travel blogger), I probably wouldn’t be able to say that. But as someone who only travels for a week or two at a time, it’s perfect.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 7: $199
32GB micro-SD card: $21
Leather case: $17
This is not a sponsored post. I paid for this tablet out of my own pocket. I’m just a very satisfied customer.