You may remember that way back in August when I first got my Galaxy Tab and started this blog I was asking the question Can I live Without a Laptop?. Well up until that point the answer had really been no. This was because of some of the drawbacks of the touchscreen interface and the fact that sometimes you are really stuck with the mobile version of websites and no keyboard. However to test my tablet "skills" I went on a holiday to Canada and took it as my only means of Internet access and this is how I got on.
The first thing that surprised me is that how useful it is having something with a large screen and Google Maps on to orientate yourself in a strange city. Before having the tablet I had never worried about taking a laptop with me or using my Android phone (roaming far to expensive!) and therefore just kind of guessed my way around. It was great to be able to sit down and plan where I was going to go and what buses I might want to use or roads to walk down etc.
The "killer" app for the tablet user on holiday though has to be the now indispensable TripAdvisor app which condenses the website into a very useful format. Now the only problem is that it is really designed for an Android phone and not tablet which means there is a lot of wasted space.
|TripAdvisor - Main Screen|
This shouldn't deter you from using it though as its much better than the website and does scale really well particularly when you start to get into the searching and the results. TripAdvisor of course is great for finding stuff to do and also, the number 1 reason I am recommending it, for finding restaurants! Now I don't know about you guys but finding a good restaurant in a foreign city has always been a recipe for an argument but now life is so much easier. We consulted TripAdvisor most nights for restaurants and found that we always got a good meal and were never let down. Carry this app every time you go abroad and you will do very well indeed!
|TripAdvisor - Search Results|
The social media aspect of carrying a tablet was also useful allowing us to keep up to date with the pace of life back home and ensure we didn't miss out on anyone being bored at work or going to a social function we couldn't. However it is nice to keep in touch and share stuff as its happening (albeit slightly delayed due to a time difference), but the lack of native Honeycomb Facebook support is still a real pain in my opinion. The phone app is now compatible with Honeycomb but its not even had a re-skin so again you get massive of useless white space not using the 10 inch screen. Twitter was probably my favourite social media application on the tablet while on holiday and in fact proved very useful when Air Canada were threatening to strike and scupper our plans to get home. I found out about this on Twitter and was able to keep up to date with the news from Air Canada and email my travel agent!
Really what I'm saying is that travelling with a tablet is so easy, and the number of apps out there which really help take some of the stresses of travel or strange cities means that its something you should really have one for. All of this is without even mentioning the benefits of a portable media device with films or TV shows on. I managed to get every episode of Red Dwarf on my 16Gb Galaxy Tab (although only watched 2), which could be particularly good if travelling with young children.
So to answer my question the tablet was by far the best device I could have taken to Canada, it coped with everything we through at it and really helped us with none of the bulk of a full size laptop or compromises of a smaller netbook. Since we have come back we have found ourselves using the laptop and PC less and less and the focus is becoming the tablet, so much so that I may have to buy one just for the girlfriend!