Using a Laptop vs. Using a Tablet on Trips

In my day-to-day life, I use my laptop pretty much all day, every day for work, entertainment, and communication purposes, but I’ve found that it was less than ideal for using on the road. It’s getting longer in the tooth these days, and its battery isn’t what it used to be. On my extended SUV RVing trips, I had to be very selective about what I chose to do once I powered it on, and I had to start up the SUV whenever I wanted to charge the laptop back up. On top of that, it was too big and bulky to use it to watch a movie before bed. Laptops are machines that excel at being used on a desk or on a comfy couch, not in the confines of an SUV. 

I thought a lot about how I could make my laptop’s battery last longer. I thought about replacing the battery. I thought about getting an external battery bank to run the laptop off of. I thought about getting a new laptop. All of these options would have solved the battery issues, but they also would have ended up costing more than I was willing to invest.

And then July 12 rolled around. This was Prime Day, Amazon’s midsummer Black Friday-esque day of deals. I saw that Amazon was selling its basic Fire tablet for $33 (normally $50), and I pulled the trigger. At that price, I had nothing to lose. I also bought a $27 wireless keyboard case (this is a surprisingly good keyboard, by the way) and 64 GB micro SD card for it. After everything arrived and I’d had the chance to play with it for a few days, I realized that the tablet was the perfect tool to take with me on my SUV RVing adventures. It was an indispensable piece of gear on my recent month-long road trip through Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. I used it for the following:

  • Writing in my journal at the end of every day. I used the free Microsoft OneNote app for this.
  • Downloading and watching movies. I’m an Amazon Prime member, so I’m able to download all sorts of TV shows and movies for offline viewing. I’d download movies in town (usually through the free WiFi at libraries) and have them to watch when I was camped out in the mountains.
  • Basic work tasks like checking email, writing blog posts, etc.
  • Reading
  • Backing up photos from my digital camera. I can plug my camera’s SD card into it via this card reader thing and copy all of the camera’s photos onto the tablet.

The best thing about the tablet is its battery life. I get 7+ hours of use out of it before I need to recharge it, and then I can just recharge it via one of the several external USB battery packs that I already have. Using all of the battery packs would give me something crazy like 40+ hours of battery life.

I also found the tablet to be much more enjoyable to use in my hands when I was in bed at the end of each day. I even rigged up a system to hang the tablet from the ceiling of the SUV so I don’t have to hold it up to watch movies. (I’ll have a video about this coming soon.)

There were still certain work tasks that I had to do on my laptop, but using my little $33 tablet for most things meant that my $1,900 laptop was fully charged whenever I did need to use it for work. I’m thrilled with the purchase and never plan to travel without a tablet again.

Busting out the tablet inside the SUV
Busting out the tablet inside the SUV

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