back to article So tablets, if you want to get anything done travelling get a ... yes, a laptop

Some people mature like a fine wine. Others mellow out like a smooth whiskey. Yet others get more sprightly and a bit fruity as they grow older, akin to a strong gin and tonic. I am a cheap Rioja. By this, you understand that I’m widely available and don't cost much but never quite live up to my reputation. In fact, I often …

  1. Chris G

    Blogster Dabbsy

    I think with your dry ascerbic wit and observational skills you might get quite a following screwing up tests on new products. After all it is as important to understand the minuses as much as the plusses on anything! new before you buy it.

    You could call it the shitfuckarse blog!!

    1. ZSn

      Re: Blogster Dabbsy

      The shitfuckarse channel is probably already taken and not for tech journalists...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Blogster Dabbsy

        that depends on the "tech".

        You ga(y)me Al???

    2. JeffyPoooh

      How to pack...

      TL;DR: legal size carry-on bag *plus* a 'personal item' is a laptop bag for small laptop and endless gadgets.

      If I'm going on a trip, I'd bring several gadgets, including a small laptop. The airline allows a 'personal item' which is a full size laptop bag. Modern gadgets are so small that the laptop bags easily holds a small laptop plus another half dozen gadgets (incl several tablets) and accessories. It all fits into one laptop bag 'personal item'. Even full size noise cancelling headphones of the folding variety.

      Ladies with handbags can't have another laptop bag, sorry.

      The legal size carry on bag is for clothes and such. Nothing tech or valuable just in case the carry on bag needs to be 'sky checked' at the aircraft door.

      This method allows essentially unlimited gadgets, and a carry on bag just for clothing.

      1. D@v3

        Re: How to pack...

        depends on the airline. in some, 1 carry on is 1! carry on (no laptop bags, umbrellas, motorcycle helmets, handbags). Others, it is 1+personal item.

    3. Haku

      Re: Blogster Dabbsy

      If he did videos of his 'screwing up tests on new products', I'd imagine it would be something along the lines of Techmoan crossed with Ashens

      Techmoan reviews little known (usually on the cheaper end of the scale) technology items often with full in-depth showing of the features of said tech. Factual and formal.

      whereas Ashens gets hold of the cheapest tat you've probably never seen before (from 99p stores etc. and items sent to his po box from across the globe) then promply verbally and often physically tears it to pieces with his scathing wit and his disembodied hands (the camera always points at his sofa where the objects of not-desire are perused). Amusing, often funny, and sad when you realise people are actually buying the showcased products because they mistakenly believe they want them....

    4. David 18

      Re: Blogster Dabbsy

      I'd subscribe. I nearly wrecked my keyboard looking at the second attempt, it even had good comic timing - just one beat before tipping over, perfect.

      Lack of slickness is a talent in sad decline. Anyway, it worked out ok for Tommy Cooper.

  2. dave 93

    Uploading 'everything' to iCloud?

    You did remember to delete the copies of the original, giant DSLR files after you downsampled them, so you only had to sync the small ones, right? Or even emailed the small pictures a few at a time.

    If you really want to travel light, have you seen how good the latest smartphone cameras are - iPhone 6 plus could just about replace all your kit.

    1. Robin

      Re: Uploading 'everything' to iCloud?

      Indeed. I recently took a flight with my newly acquired iPhone 6 and to alleviate the boredom, decided to make a little film of the various stages of the flight to test the capabilities. I took videos of take-off and landing (including some fancy slo-mo effects), snapped stills from the window at cruising altitude, added a dramatic soundtrack (if I 'd had any offline music on the new phone) and spliced them all together in the iMovie app, then uploaded it. I was impressed at how smoothly it all went.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Uploading 'everything' to iCloud?

        I'm more low tech - I buy a book and that'll last me for the flight. The most advanced tech I will use during a flight is a Kindle - again, a book, just with the weight removed and some backlight added.

        1. Stevie

          Re: Uploading 'everything' to iCloud?

          " again, a book, just with the weight removed..."

          Not a Kindle Fire then.

      2. Alistair Dabbs

        Re: Uploading 'everything' to iCloud?

        Yes but uploaded it where?

        1. Robin

          Re: Uploading 'everything' to iCloud?

          > Yes but uploaded it where?

          Just to the Facebook of my mate who I was en-route to visit.

      3. Alan Denman

        Re: Uploading 'everything' to iCloud?

        ...and this was whilst checking my iShares portfolio.

        Ha Ha

      4. jockmcthingiemibobb

        Re: Uploading 'everything' to iCloud?

        Is there a special seating area on aeroplanes for ballbags doing that sort of thing?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Uploading 'everything' to iCloud?

      I'm off to the USofA on Thursday for a trip. Business (1 week) followed by Holiday (2 weeks)

      Now if you think I'm going to even attempt to take half decent pictures of a Female Grizzly and her Cubs (in Yellostone) with an iPhone 6+ camera, you are more than welsome to try. I won't be coming to your funeral.

      Personally, a 200-400mm lens with a 1.4x teleconverter is about as close as I want to get.

      1. Trigonoceps occipitalis

        Re: Uploading 'everything' to iCloud?

        How fast can fanbois run?

        1. Chris King

          Re: Uploading 'everything' to iCloud?

          Does it matter, so long as YOU can run faster than them ?

      2. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Uploading 'everything' to iCloud?

        >Now if you think I'm going to even attempt to take half decent pictures of a Female Grizzly and her Cubs (in Yellostone) with an iPhone 6+ camera, you are more than welsome to try.

        The discussion is about tech blogging, and a photographer is unlikely to meet anything at a tech conference as dangerous as an enraged grizzly bear.... not now that Steve Balmer has retired, that is. New gadgets don't bite!

        The right tool for the right job... too many of the trendy, shiny tech sites take photographs with too shallow a depth of field, so half the gadget in question is out of focus. They are evidently using premium-compact, mirrorless or full-blown DSLRs, but they seem fixated on presentation and not illustration.

        Hmmm, you might get some interesting bear shots if you hung an iPhone from a tree, covered it in dog food, and then got an app to fire its camera when its gyros detect an ursine mauling... of course you'd need the photos to be sent off-phone in real time, but it seems doable!

        1. Triggerfish

          Re: Uploading 'everything' to iCloud?

          The right tool for the right job would probably be a decent high end compact.

    3. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Uploading 'everything' to iCloud?

      So when you read that iOS can't save to SD card and the kludge was to sync the photos via hotel WiFi and wait a very very very long time, your solution is to throw away the bit that does work (the camera), buy an new iShiny, and shrink the photos down to a useless resolution so they can sync over crappy WiFi.

      Would you kindly feck off to the Apple forums and bring your considerable skills to answering the questions where they'll be more appreciated (e.g. Q. My Mac makes a big annoying honking goose noise on startup, how do I make it start up quietly so I don't wake up my baby and piss off my wife? A. The honking goose noise is supposed to be there so you know it's turned on, have you considered keeping the computer on all the time, and don't you dare install any third party software to try and turn it off because it could break the computer and it's not the Apple way.)

  3. Robin

    Boring Voice

    When I saw the Father Ted boring voice clip, I thought it was going to be this one (about 1:39 in, but of course you should watch the whole thing)

  4. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    Paranormal activity? Just another natural resource ripe for exploitation!

    The package will work exactly as designed 100 times in a row, but as soon as I click the ‘record’ button, it’s guaranteed to fail or freeze at some point

    We should harness this meta-natural-law to effect better and more thorough testing of products!

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Paranormal activity? Just another natural resource ripe for exploitation!

      Paranormal activity....

      A friend had a misbehaving PC, and I tried al the usual things but the symptoms persisted. I then changed the HDD, memory, CPU... no dice. Eventually I swapped the PSU and the motherboard over... still, the same odd behaviour. By this point I think the only original component left was the case.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Paranormal activity? Just another natural resource ripe for exploitation! @Dave 126

        Voltage fluctuations and undervoltage in the mains are a b*tch, aren't they?

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Paranormal activity? Just another natural resource ripe for exploitation!

        @Dave 126

        Did you try replacing the user?

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Paranormal activity? Just another natural resource ripe for exploitation!

          >Did you try replacing the user?

          Yes, yes I did. He's a walking illustration of why walled gardens are a good idea for some people!

  5. OzBob

    Plus one vote for the 90s tv appearance digitisation

    just to see if you look like an advert for the "rave" culture back then (v-front shirt, number 0 haircut, manic arm movements and vocab).

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: Plus one vote for the 90s tv appearance digitisation

      I'd started a family by then, so I didn't have time to visit the barber's and I was probably wearing my only shirt without vomit down the shoulders.

      1. Martin Budden

        Re: Plus one vote for the 90s tv appearance digitisation

        It's strange that so many people start a family but you never hear of anyone finishing a family. In that respect, families are a lot like EDRMS implementations.

  6. David Robinson 1

    TL;DR version

    Dabbsy discovers what most people knew ages ago that tablets are for consuming media and laptops/desktops are for creating it.

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: TL;DR version

      20 years ago, I could write up a story on a Psion 3a while on the train back from a demo. 15 years ago, I remember filing stories about ICC colour profiling from a hotel room in Chamonix using a Psion 5 and pocket modem via the hotel telephone. It was easier to work with mobile kit then than it is now.

      1. JulieM Silver badge

        Re: TL;DR version

        Not quite. It was harder to use mobile kit in those days, because you really had to understand, on an almost visceral level, what was really happening "under the bonnet" while you were doing what you were doing. It hadn't been designed to be easy for non-technical people to use. You understood baud rates, parity bits, file formats and so forth, so it seemed easy.

        Modern kit is designed to be used without understanding what is going on behind the scenes. To this end, some choices have already been made for you; and if there is even a way to change them at all, it will be hidden away in a menu structure, at a depth proportional to the consequences of injudicious tampering. (Well, hopefully. There are exceptions, and consequent horror stories. But let's ignore them for now.)

        And the trouble is, since ordinary people by definition outnumber people with special requirements and the more of something you make the less each one costs, there's a big price jump between home equipment that behaves reasonably most of the time for most people, and industrial equipment that does exactly what you tell it whether or not that's what you really wanted.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: TL;DR version

        +1 for Psion. Had a colleague showing off his MacBook and how he can link it to his iphone and access the internet. Showed him my psion and nokia 6310i - "Yeah mate, was doing that 10 years ago..."

        Was on holiday to Disneyland Paris last year, missus wanted to make notes for a forum posting. She was planning to type it on her iphone. Nah, just take the Psion, decent(ish) keyboard, didn't even use one set of AA batteries and when we arrived home, linked it up to the PC and transferred straight across.

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: TL;DR version

          Linx 10 Windows 8.1 tablet £80, matching keyboard with integrated mousepad £15.

          Has met all my travel computing requirements without any problems so far.

          Of course I would like a Surface Pro,a HP Spectre or an Air, but really for under £100 I spend the savings on good stuff.

    2. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: TL;DR version

      Indeed - though to be fair, the Surface Pro is actually a decent laptop.

      As long as you can manage with 1 (one) USB port and no hardwired Ethernet.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: TL;DR version

        >As long as you can manage with 1 (one) USB port and no hardwired Ethernet.

        For the scenario in this article - mobile blogging- those aren't big problems. The Surface Pro 3 does have a microSD card slot, but it appears designed to be left in, as swapping it in and out to transfer photos is a bit fiddly. Still, if you do a lot of photoblogging, an Eye-Fi card might work for you (seek out the experiences of existing users first,to see if the reality matches the promise). If you use a USB cable to connect a camera already, it can live with all the camera accessories - cleaning cloths, lens caps, spare cards etc.

        However, the Surface Pro is just a laptop, so has plenty of competition if its removable keyboard doesn't bring you any great benefits.

    3. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: TL;DR version

      Exactly, David. Exactly. Except laptop aren't very good at all day intensive work either, but they are FAR better than tablets.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I bought a tablet last year partly so my wife could get her mail and buy shit she doesn't need on the web, and partly so we could backup our photos from our DSLR when we're travelling.

    It does both, but isn't very good at either of them. I've yet to find an Android file manager which lets you only copy files which have changed, there's no shift-select equivalent, so if you want to select 500 photos in a directory of 1000 you either have to select 500 photos one by one or copy all 1000, overwriting the 1000 you have already copied.

    It goes on: Android is half-baked and half-finished. You can do a lot of stuff, but it's incredibly difficult to do any of it. I'm typing this on my laptop, and can do so about 10-15 times more quickly than I could on a tablet, let alone a phone.

    As for ipads, they don't even let you copy anything to internal storage, and there's no option to add external storage. What's the point in that?

    There's a place for tablets, certainly: the size makes a huge difference and for the computer illiterate who don't know what they're missing with proper computers they're probably great.

    As for planes, I tend to get the overnight flights and go to sleep. Best way to pass the time.

    1. Miffo

      Android 1.5 was OK.

      I remember backing up dSLR photos with my Archos 5 "tablet" some years ago. I don't know if all file managers do this but I didn't have a problem with copying just the new files. I would select the whole folder on the SD card and when it found a duplicate, I could tell it to ignore duplicates so that only the new files copied over. Perhaps you need a different file manager?

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Ghost Commander lets you a) select a wildcard pattern or b) search for a date range or other criteria and select all the search results then once you've done that you can copy or move the selection to the other pane.

      It's a bit fiddly though, if I can I use the Cyanogenmod File Manager or Explorer instead, however they can't do selecting like Ghost Commander can.

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. Mahou Saru


      Might be a solution!

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      even without root access busybox gives you all the useful stuff like sort files by date etc

  8. John Sager

    Wrong tablet

    You chose an iPad. Locked in a straitjacket there! We managed blogging off an Android tablet on an Antipodean holiday. True, I would have preferred my laptop but weight & size precluded that. True also it was for fun, not for earning money but it can be done, if rather inefficiently.

    The workflow was, my wife took the photos, and then she wrote the text later. I put the camera micro-SD card in the tablet, copied the photos, fixed, cropped & scaled them for upload, then uploaded text & pics using the blog (Tumblr) app when we next had wifi. I played with a few apps before we left. A file manager is essential, and I found a decent photo-mangling app. Not up to Gimp or Photoshop but it sufficed. If I had been writing I would have soon bought a bluetooth keyboard but my wife got along with the screen.

    1. Cosmo

      Re: Wrong tablet

      I have an iPad Mini 2 and a Tesco Hudl2. Naturally the iPad is a nicer tablet, but I have almost frisbeed it out of the window on numerous occasions due to the very limited syncing that Apple allows you to do.

      With the Hudl, I can take the memory card out of my camera, remove it from the adapter and place it directly into the memory card slot, tinker with the pictures and then save them elsewhere. ES File Manager does work very well for that, but I agree with another poster that trying to select a subset of pictures from a large directory is frustrating.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        : Wrong Memory Card

        There is the Eye-Fi SD card with WiFi:

        People know their own workflows, and choose their kit accordingly. Obviously we seek out reviews before making an investment, and we seek out the experiences of existing users on forums too.

        If the situation that prompted this article was "I want something as light as a tablet but with a proper OS file manager and a keyboard!" then it would seem that Apple has heard you and produced the new Macbook. And all they want in return is loads of money!

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: : Wrong Memory Card

          "And all they want in return is loads of money!"

          There's the problem. If I remember some of his earlier offerings correctly Mr Dabbs is from Yorkshire where paying loads of money is against our religion.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: : Wrong Memory Card

            I didn't realise that he was from Yorkshire.... surely he wants a coal-powered laptop in polished brass with integrated punched-card reader? Tch, to think of the early lead that Yorkshire had in programmable loom technology, stolen by the Californians.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: : Wrong Memory Card

              "the early lead that Yorkshire had in programmable loom technology"

              Actually, we nicked it from the Frogs:

          2. Alistair Dabbs

            Re: : Wrong Memory Card

            By eckers, lad, you have a good memory.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: : Wrong Memory Card

              "By eckers, lad, you have a good memory."

              It's all done with punched cards.

      2. The Brave Sir Robin

        Re: Wrong tablet

        Dell Venue Pro-11. Fully capable laptop replacement. Works excellently as a tablet and a laptop with Windows 8.1 Pro. Never managed to properly incorporate my Android Transformer tablet into 'proper' work. With the Venue I can do most things my full sized laptop can do.

        1. mmeier

          Re: Wrong tablet

          Or the i3 version of the Surface/Pro3, or most likely the Surface/3, or...

          Basically any 4GB Baytrail or better x86 tablet pc should do the job. The rest is "what screen size do I want" and "how much storage do I want" and maybe "how much can I spend". The Surface/Pro (and S/3) offer some choice at around iThingy prices, same for Lenovo, Dell and HP.

  9. Teiwaz

    Glass half empty view.

    Mr Dabbs, you might just have a knack at finding the flaws in IT kit.

    Perhaps look for a company willing to pay you to showcase their competitors products.

    1. mmeier

      Re: Glass half empty view.

      Actually he seems to have a knack for choosing the most useless IT kit for the job.

  10. Stephen Clifford

    Wrong Tablet

    Although I suspect that as soon as I mention this, there's going to be legions of anti-MS posts, but if you want a tablet that works just like a laptop - just get a Windows 8 tablet.

    Surface (Pro) 3 being the obvious candidate. But even the cheap Windows 8 tablets now just run full-fat Windows 8.1 and not Windows 8.1 RT.

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: Wrong Tablet

      I'm tempted. A non-tech journalist colleague bought one and I thought it was great.

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Wrong Tablet

      No downvotes from me, but it your post does ask us to define terms - what s a laptop, what is a tablet?

      The variables - external ports, OS, keyboard, CPU architecture - have been lumped together through historical accidents. There is no inherent reason why an ARM device couldn't be given more ports and a OS that is happy to do work. There just isn't much of a reason to do so, though.

      The people who want to write and deal with photos on an SD card already have an x86 laptop, so it means that there is little incentive for software devs to make ARM tablets do the same.

      The Surface Pro 3 is an interesting device. However, when travelling one still has to pack its keyboard, so there is no weight/bulk saving there. I've looked at CAD forums to see how the Surface Pro behaves as a Solidworks machine... "not too badly but bring your proper mouse" was the view!

      1. Michael Habel

        Re: Wrong Tablet

        The variables - external ports, OS, keyboard, CPU architecture - have been lumped together through historical accidents. There is no inherent reason why an ARM device couldn't be given more ports and a OS that is happy to do work. There just isn't much of a reason to do so, though.

        Battery life? Ok perhaps not... But, definitely less of a resource pig then a i7 with TWD of 95W, and this is before we add on another 200 or so Watts to run that nVidia Card.

        I for One would almost certainly welcome an ARM Desktop Linux Device, that was capable of running a ported version of either Debian or, at worst Ubuntu.

        I suppose for everything else there's the Intel NUC.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Wrong Tablet

          A discreet nVidia card is a bit overkill for blogging photos! Heck, even for basic 3D CAD the Intel graphics solutions are fast enough these days, certainly faster than the nVidia card in my ageing but still adequate laptop.

          You can buy a sub 1Kg x86 laptop with tablet level (8 hours ish) battery life... but you'll be charged lots of money for it!

          From another vendor, you can buy a ruggedised mobile workstation with enough grunt to perform geophysical simulations.... but again, it won't be cheap.

    3. Martin Summers Silver badge

      Re: Wrong Tablet

      I use a cheap Windows 8 tablet. I was really surprised how good it is,not to mention the Office 365 and OneDrive sub it came for totalling about 50 quid including the tablet. I had only seriously used Android tablets before and what you can actually get done on the Windows tablet in comparison is amazing. Plus it's a completely familiar environment and normal windows programs work in it. There's also the chance to see where they were trying to go with the desktop abomination that is Windows 8. From thinking it would be shite I I was pleasantly surprised and think Win 8 tablets should be tried before being rubbished by anyone.

    4. JeffyPoooh

      Re: Wrong Tablet

      My latest and presently favourite tablet is a cheap 'D2' branded Win 8.1 8-inch. It was only $100 Cdn and free shipping, on sale. Being full Win 8.1 it's easy to install Chrome and Ad Blocker making it the perfect Youtube small screen with headphones device.

      Being so cheap and good is nice.

      1. mmeier

        Re: Wrong Tablet

        Well, Chrome on Win8 is known to eat battery. Otherwise a working solution

  11. John Sanders

    """So I have been forced to concede that tablet computers are utter crap for everything except playing games, reading books and magazines, and watching TV shows. They certainly aren’t any use for work, and they are pretty shit at browsing websites too."""

    Some of us realized that years ago even without having to buy the kit :-)

    1. JulieM Silver badge

      You are a Python programmer, and I claim my £5.

  12. Michael Habel

    A Music Video that hasn't been hit with a "This Video is not available in your Country!" Colour me shocked!

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: This video is not available in your country

      I'm surprised the Scots still allow us to watch this in England.

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: This video is not available in your country

        I'm surprised the Scots still allow us to watch this in England.

        It has a built-in virus, you'll not be able to get it out of your head afterwards.

        1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

          Re: This video is not available in your country

          Were you forced to walk 500 miles?

          Were you advised to walk 500 more?

          If so, our expert lawyers can help. Call the Pro Claimers now!

    2. ecofeco Silver badge

      Didn't play where I live across the pond. Something about inbed not being allowed.

  13. Martin Summers Silver badge

    Old Footage

    Alastair I'd love to see a tech blog of you trying and failing to get on with modern tech as it really is. I only wonder if you are holding back from appearing on video and only writing articles due to something embarrassing like having a voice like a chipmunk on helium? I for one vote that you convert your old appearances on that show you mentioned in your footnote so that we can find out!

    1. Martin Summers Silver badge

      Re: Old Footage

      Apologies, auto correct decided your name was somewhat different to what it actually is and I can't edit it easily on my phone.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If you are taking a tablet plus keyboard...

    ...then it's a crap laptop. Take a laptop - it's far superior.

  15. jason 7

    Mega bag carry-on w*nkers.

    Am I the only one that wishes airlines actually started to enforce the size and weight of carry-on luggage?

    Some of the bags (well I say bags...more like trunks) people man-handle into the cabin really take the piss.

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: Mega bag carry-on w*nkers.

      They are getting stricter by the look of things. However, the best way to persuade passengers to reduce the size of carry-on luggage is to make it quicker to check in any hold luggage. Collecting hold luggage upon arrival is usually very quick these days but queueing up for the initial check-in before departure takes bloody ages, and it's noisy and shouty and unpleasant. Those with carry-on luggage only, however, simply do an online check-in the night before and stroll straight over to departure security.

    2. Sgt_Oddball

      Re: Mega bag carry-on w*nkers.

      This is why I travel with a backpack. 35 litres of compressible storage that can generally be squeezed in. Plus its easier to move about and I don't look like a businessman (not that I look like one anyway when travelling bit still...). Also a bonus is that it very rarely gets weighed so I can fit a lot in (since I can easily carry it even heavily laden).

  16. jason 7

    All these folks worried about processing their photos while on holiday... reality no one else cares or wants to see them. They really don't.

    So just don't. Do like most normal people that have realised this. Take your photos while on holiday by all means. Download them to your NAS/External backup HDD 'Photos' folder and probably never look at them again.

    1. Kiwi

      Re: All these folks worried about processing their photos while on holiday... reality no one else cares or wants to see them.

      Some people are born to take crap photos, some have crap photos thrust apon them!

  17. Dr_N


    What you need, Mr Dabbs, is some kind of convertible tablet/laptop combo with a dockable keyboard, full range of ports, able to run a full range of full-fat software and with plenty of battery life.

    I wonder where I've seen something like that.......

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Laptop

      Why would he need to remove the keyboard? There are only a few use-cases in which that benefits the user.

  18. Jason Hindle

    The art of travel....

    1. Make sure you're on an airline that allows an additional, smaller piece of hand luggage.

    2. DSLR? One camera/one lens, unless it's a proper photo trip! Take a look at something like the Panasonic LX100, one of the smaller compact system cameras, or even a Sony RX100. They're all good enough for product shots and do 1080p (or even 4k). Even a mobile phone might do, if you're pushed (look at the Sony and Nokia phones that have the 1" sensor, though you lose zoom).

    3. Microsoft Surface might just be your friend.

    4. Longer trip, but you still don't want to check a bag? Google the clown car packing method.

    5. Don't forget your mobile boarding pass (or even print it at home, if you're old fashioned) and avoid getting your bags weighed (though the low cost carriers tend to have quite a generous limit anyway).

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: The art of travel....

      >> DSLR? One camera/one lens, unless it's a proper photo trip

      My column this week was about work, and I've very recently begun a return to basic photojournalism. The telephoto lens is not optional. If it was a holiday, of course, I would leave the camera at home and take all my snaps on a smartphone.

      >> Microsoft Surface might just be your friend

      Tempted, tempted. Short of money, though.

      >> Clown car packing

      The famous 'clown car' is just the conventional way of rolling, folding and stuffing flat clothes into every crevice of a bag. Shame my cameras and toiletries aren't flat, foldable or or rollable.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: The art of travel....

        Photojournalists who think they have a lot of kit: spare a thought for travelling musicians!

      2. Chris G

        Re: The art of travel....

        Ditch the zoom lens and get a Panasonic FZ1000 these bridge cameras have great Leica lenses and the 2014 FZ1000 has a bigger CMOS sensor than previous models, you get up to an equivalent 400mm at full zoom with stabilisation built in.I have the older FZ48 and the results from that are pretty good whether I opt for Intelligent Auto ( point and shoot for dummies) or opt for playing with the million and one possibilities using all the other possibilities and programmes.

        I do have the hots for one of the Panasonic 4/3s compacts that can use virtually any lens but for simple convenience and pretty much do it all ability the FZ has pushed most of my other cameras out of the bag and into a drawer.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: The art of travel....

          >Panasonic FZ1000

          I wasn't aware of that one, and just read up on it.

          Not to be confused with FZ-45 and their ilk, the FZ1000 is Panny's answer to the Sony RX10. Think of them both as being the long zoom versions of their respective LX-100 (again, a leap beyond the LX-3, 5 and 7) and RX-100 cameras.

          When the RX10 was released, it was in a category of its own. One big tech site journo proclaimed it to be an 'Everything Camera', and his go-to tool when he didn't know what he would be shooting.

          1. Chris G

            Re: The art of travel....

            A good camera that really does get close to the do anything claim, a wide enough angle at 25mm and with 400mm at the other end no need for a kilo of detachable zoom that would normally come with a DSLR.

            I generally dislike the higher MP models because of excessive noise but Panasonic seem to have adressed that problem and significantly reduced the problem. And cheaper than the excellent RX10 from Sony, plus I seem to get better customer service from Panny.

          2. fpoling

            Re: The art of travel....

            FZ1000 is rather slow when focusing and very noisy when focusing or zooming so for video an external microphone is a must and even with that the camera noise can be heard. RX-10 is way better on both points. Plus when zooming RX-10 keeps the focus plane allowing for very sharp videos. It cannot do 4K videos, but what the point of those if they are not sharp like with FZ1000?

      3. Sgt_Oddball

        Re: The art of travel....

        Toiletries? Luxury....

        You've gone soft on us.

        a flannel, roll-on, toothbrush and paste. Anything else can be found once you arrive easy enough.

      4. Dr_N

        Re: The art of travel....

        ">> Microsoft Surface might just be your friend

        Tempted, tempted. Short of money, though."

        One of the Asus Transformer equivalents then?

        1. bep

          Asus Transformer

          I've had one of these for several years and it deals with most of the problems the author talks about. Unfortunately Asus seems to have stuffed up the later models by changing the hinge design and they seem to have largely abandoned the Android versions for Windows 8.1. The Windows models don't seem to have the extra battery in the keyboard half which is one of the best features of the Android versions. So another example of a problem being solved and then unsolved for no apparent reason.

      5. cambsukguy

        Re: The art of travel....

        > >> Microsoft Surface might just be your friend

        > Tempted, tempted. Short of money, though

        But if the Surface is a laptop replacement and you buy it as part of your work, then it is both tax-free and VAT-free. It is also capital expenditure and thus depreciation is allowed for each year (possibly all in the first year, and it is significant).

        This affects the overall price greatly, like an £800 Surface (not the cheapest, even assuming you cannot have the smaller, cheaper, less powerful non-pro version because of the photo editing etc.) comes in more like £450 actual money less in your personal pocket.

      6. Jamie Jones Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Re: The art of travel....

        "I've very recently begun a return to basic photojournalism. The telephoto lens is not optional."

        Ah..... Papa.. paparazzi!

      7. Chris King

        Re: The art of travel....

        One solution to the wash-bag being too big or not folding up - bonsai toiletries !

        No point in carrying a full-size bar of soap for a two-day trip, when you can pack a couple of tiny ones. Many of their lines are similar size to what you'll find in hotel bathrooms, but brands you'll actually recognise - expensive compared to the full-size products in the shops, but you're paying for the convenience.

        Having just taken one on a three-day trip, I can also vouch for the Asus Zenbook UX305 being able to charge up other kit quickly - I only had to take the charger for the Zenbook itself, and a Micro USB cable. No problem keeping camera, phone and Bluetooth headset topped up !

        (I just hope this isn't going to lead to a series of Reg articles on "hypermilling" carry-on luggage !)

      8. Shooter

        Re: The art of travel....

        "Short of money, though."

        After reading the above review, I gifted myself one of these convertible tablet/laptops for Christmas, purely for personal use. I bought the 64GB version, and added a 64GB HDMI card that I had laying around. After a couple of rounds of BIOS and driver updates, I found it to be more and more useful at work. When my workplace moved up to Office 2013, we drones were offered the chance to download it to our personal machines at no charge, and I took advantage of the deal. Although I am not a "road warrior" in the traditional sense, I found myself using the Asus more and more for work in the field, rather than lugging around my "desktop replacement" work laptop. With an adapter, I even use it for the occasional presentation with no problems. Mine boots up quickly with none of the quirks described in the above review. When wi-fi is not available, I tether the Asus to my cell phone. My main issue was learning to navigate around Win 8.1, but that had to happen sooner or later anyway. Battery life is surprisingly good - I've never yet had it die on me at an inopportune moment. For work, I usually use it in laptop mode, and after hours I'm more likely to use it as a tablet or reader. It may not have the most connectivity options, but with a little forethought it should meet many, if not most, people's needs. And while I wouldn't want to write a novel on it, for email and shorter reports (1-2 pages) the keyboard is quite adequate. I've had mine for almost 18 months now, with no indication of it becoming obsolete anytime soon; though no doubt there is a newer version available by this time. At just over a kilo, it is very lightweight, and slips into my backpack quite nicely, along with a couple of chargers, an external battery pack (only ever used for my phone, so far), a change of socks and shorts, and a very small toiletry kit; this is sufficient for most overnight or two-day trips. And the price was very reasonable indeed!

        Would I want to use this device exclusively? No. For content creation and day-in/day-out office use, it is too small. But for short-term use out of the office, it is a very capable device.

  19. Jason Hindle

    Well, I could recommend a compact photo kit

    That goes from pretty wide, out to telephoto, but that's going to be considerably more expensive than the Surface. Starting from scratch, on the photo side of things, is anything but trivial.

    1. jason 7

      Re: Well, I could recommend a compact photo kit

      A good 18-200mm zoom. Job done.

  20. wayne 8

    hotel desktop

    This cracked me up. "which took my credit card details and promptly switched itself off"


    It is there only to collect card numbers.

    It sent your card number to the NSA/GCHQ, et al. You were identified as a UNAS and the machine was instructed to shut your access down.

  21. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

    Oh come on

    Seriously, I thought everyone realised tablets were shiny toys for the burbles who liked to feel important and oh so digitized, whilst the rest of us get on doing work. A laptop is just about OK, I suppose, if you are a road warior but for getting real work done nothing, but nothing beats at least 2 decent monitors and either a desktop dock or simply a desktop computer. The only decent use I have ever seen for an iPad is as a glorified remote control for the burbles video conferencing suite. And they can keep that.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Oh come on

      What if your 'real work' is inspecting bridge structures against last known survey results? Are you seriously suggesting someone pushes a multi-monitored desktop around in a wheelbarrow?

      Or are you suggesting that the people who stop our infrastructure from falling down aren't doing 'real work'?

      Whether you like it not, software for professionals is developed for ARM tablets and rolled out into industry. It might not be your industry, but that doesn't mean it isn't 'real work'.

      1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

        Re: Oh come on

        I've personally located bugs, fixed them, and had the fixes merged upstream in 3 seperate open-source projects, (FreeBSD/pkg/Tcsh) all done on my 30 quid android tablet whilst convalescing in bed!

        "Power users" don't demand high spec - they make what they've got work for them :-p

      2. Kiwi

        Re: Oh come on

        It might not be your industry, but that doesn't mean it isn't 'real work'.

        I do web design work and generally computer repair work. Since being gifted a tablet I often find it is a valuable tool. Not only can I comfortably take it on the bike or even on foot to a customer's site, but it sure beats holding a laptop long-term while trying to look up specs or other information. And it lets me get a real-world look at how sites perform on these things.

        I can also quickly and easily give customers a look at site design options, and explain I'm using the tablet for real-life examples.

        They're crap for creating any real content (even typing this message), but can be a great tool for certain jobs. Find mine great, so long as I try to use it within realistic limits. Otherwise it would very quickly become an expensive frisbee. Especially with the keyboard trying to re-interpret and correct what I type (must download a better one!)

  22. Tim99 Silver badge

    I know that I'm a bit dim...

    ...but wouldn't most of the upload problems have been trivial if your iPad took a SIM card with a cheap plan? Even if you had a laptop, how were you going to get the photos off your SIM card and back to base, unless you sent them by post or courier?

    The last time I was in the UK, I got a rechargeable SIM card with 6GB of 4G data for £17.00 - Most of the hotel WiFi that was available was slow and expensive - 4G worked almost everywhere that we travelled.

    1. Mike Bell

      Re: I know that I'm a bit dim...

      Or connect the iPad to a smartphone for Internet access. I'm doing that now, on the train.

      That won't help if you are shooting in Camera RAW, mind. Raw files are typically in the tens of megabytes, which is going to take an age to upload anywhere, even on a decent ADSL connection.

      If you can get by with basic shots taken on an iPhone, or even on the iPad itself, these normally get uploaded to iCloud pretty quickly.

    2. John Arthur

      Re: I know that I'm a bit dim...

      "4G worked almost everywhere that we travelled."

      Well, you can't have travelled far then!

  23. badgerman

    Traveling light

    Most airlines allow you to bring a regular carry-on with clothes and other essentials, plus one "personal item", which needs to fit under the seat. I find that a small backpack with toiletries, laptop and all essential chargers, wires, and gadgets falls into that category, which means there is never a need to check anything, and still get work done in the blissful radio silence of not having internet on a plane. Sometimes on a very full flight you will get asked nicely to gate-check your luggage, but that still puts you ahead of anyone who had to go through regular baggage check and pickup.

  24. Irongut

    The last thing I want to see

    is a video of some spotty oik fondling a gadget while repeating the tech specs out loud. Wtf is wrong with people, why can't they just read the fucking specs? Why does everything need to be a video guide these days? I'd much rather read a well written guide to whatever than watch a crappy YouTube video.

    But then I am in my 40s and I can read.

    I'd much rather watch a video of Dabsy screwing up and showing how the gadget doesn't really work. It would be funnier and probably more useful for product comparisons than "and its got a Qualcom Snapdragon blah blah blah with 802.11 a/b/c/n/ac/dfsjdwjkdsadw networking..."

    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: The last thing I want to see

      Agree entirely on both points!

      But then, I'm also in my 40s and can read...

      1. Sarah Balfour

        Re: The last thing I want to see

        I, too, must profess to being double-top+ and with full literary faculties.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: The last thing I want to see

        "I'm also in my 40s and can read..."

        I'm in my 70s & can still read if I've got the right glasses.

    2. Phuq Witt
      Thumb Up

      Re: The last thing I want to see

      "...Why does everything need to be a video guide these days? I'd much rather read a well written guide to whatever than watch a crappy YouTube video...."

      Ain't that the truth!

      I've even seen code examples posted via the medium of YouTube, showing someone typing the necessary commands into a terminal displayed on a monitor. Needless to say all beautifully shot in fabulous "Out-of-Focus-Shake-O-Rama"© and set to a soundtrack of monosyllabic grunts and 'ums'.

      So much 'Hipsterier' than daggy old text, which you could copy and paste!

    3. Kiwi

      Re: The last thing I want to see

      Add me to the (just) 40 plus group who can read, and prefers it by far over video. Much quicker and easiervto find what you want. And as someone else said, copy and paste works!.

      Mmmmmm ... Coffee & pasta.. Know what I'm having for tea now!

      Educated old git. ------------>

  25. Stevie


    I'd love to swap my laptop for a tablet but after 5 months of iPad ownership I'm in agreement with the view that while the iPad makes a decent platform on which to consume content, it falls way short of my needs when I get creative. Yes you can shoot videos and write memos but the as-sold software on it runs a poor second to Works (surely a baseline in useability).

    Using the iPad for pdf textbook usage, which involves flipping hither and yon and switching between different texts is an exercise in How To Get Really Bad Carpal Tunnel as I try and bend the "multitasking" metaphor to my needs. Would it kill Adobe to add tabs and a flyback button to their iPad app?

    Even the music player fights me, presenting the least useful (to me) "Radio" screen as the first choice when it should be able to spot the 80-odd gig of music stored inside the iPad and figure out that that might be the best place to go when I launch the app.

    The spreadsheet looks useful right up until one tries to use it, when it displays some distinctly useless features such as not displaying a stored calculation when the cell pointer is placed over it so the bloody thing can be edited.

    The only app I've bought that has not had buggy performance or stupid unswitchoffable design naffery is Skyguide, a rather nifty planisphere on steroids.

    And while I'm on App Naffery:

    Please Crom could *someone* add a feature to the Register app to hide the sidebar or make it configurable so accidentally hopping to a different article as I read because my right thumb brushed the screen is a thing of the past? I'm right handed. I hold the device in my right hand as I read. Take a leaf from the BBC World News app and then improve it by making the geometry configurable. I mean, this is supposed to be a haven of tech know-how FFS.

    Gah! Where's the Tylenol!

  26. ~mico

    Tablets are not suitable for work...

    If the only tablet you've ever tried to work on, is iPad.

    What, do you honestly believe all other tablets are poor man's copies of the awesome apple-flavored fondleslab? Some fanboi.

    At least don't generalize. Some tablets out there, while not being close to a laptop in terms of productivity, are actually an usable alternative. hint: Android.

  27. Herby

    Thankfully not 40 years ago.

    In those days, there weren't powerpoint presentations, just a carousel slide show and hopefully they didn't have too many. Cameras? probably not allowed, as they supplied ONE 36mm slide for you to take with you and some press blurb. We've come a long way,

    The problem is that MANY people don't know how to make presentations, and they ALL use powerpoint as a crutch usually putting the audience asleep. A good presentation is a sight to behold and you don't forget them. Unfortunately they are few and far between.

    1. jason 7

      Re: Thankfully not 40 years ago.

      Yes when I see "Slide 1 of 45" I go into a coma.

      If I see "Slide 1 of 7" then I might just hold out hope but I'll be fidgeting by slide 5.

  28. This post has been deleted by its author

  29. Black Road Dude
    Thumb Down

    Apple Crap again....

    So really the main problem was you opted for apple kit. The company who in their infinite wisdom decided to lock down the ability to manage your own files. Photos music videos once there on you idevice they are not yours anymore.

    Maybe try android next time. The devices are cheaper and you would have been able to put them back on your cameras memory card without all the crap lockdown walled garden protectionist bullshit.

    1. Sarah Balfour

      Re: Apple Crap again....

      I tried Android, I really did, but I found it very frustrating. Don't ask me why, I just did. Guess it's what you're used to; I'd had iPods for years (I'm autistic, music is honestly the single most important thing in my life - how fucking pathetic is THAT…?!) and, as there's never been a 'Droid-based 'iPod', I'm a tad stuck.

      I don't WANT a phone. Hate the fucking things. Fucking TERRIFIED of 'em.

      1. David Paul Morgan

        Re: Apple Crap again....

        I think these are android-based.

        Good old walkman...

      2. Kiwi

        Re: Apple Crap again....

        I'd had iPods for years (I'm autistic, music is honestly the single most important thing in my life - how fucking pathetic is THAT…?!) and, as there's never been a 'Droid-based 'iPod', I'm a tad stuck.

        Also autistic. Love music, can't live without it.

        When iduds were over $1,000 for 8g and black&white screen, I spent $500 on an Iriver. 20g, 200+k color screen, Linux-based os. Lasted me from 2007 till a few months back with daily use. Unfortunately a short in the battery killed its charging circuit one night.

        I used it for music but could also copy photos to it from my camera using its external USB port. It also had a text viewer and several other features. Much like an early raspberry inside really. Hmmm... Wonder if I could adapt the screen and controls......

        Oh, and phones are evil.

  30. GrumpenKraut

    Lovely read, but...

    ...from now on I will never be able to not read "SFTW, Sir?" as "SFA, Sir?".

    Beer for SF fine language.

  31. Mike Flugennock
    Thumb Up

    Now, there's tech blog I'd actually read

    "...If I ran a tech blog, it would be full of me cocking things up and products misbehaving..."

    Y'know, Dabbs, that's a tech blog I'd actually read fairly regularly.

    No, really, I'm serious. That's be awesome, especially given your dry wit and "bad attitude".

    1. jason 7

      Re: Now, there's tech blog I'd actually read

      Yeah like those photo blogs where you see a guy testing out a new £2000 lens and he drops it by accident.

      Excellent. Their tears sustain me!

      1. Kiwi
        Big Brother

        Re: Now, there's tech blog I'd actually read

        Yeah like those photo blogs where you see a guy testing out a new £2000 lens and he drops it by accident

        How do they manage that? I've had my favourite camera for 8 years now, ridden thousands of miles with it reachable while riding, climbed rock faces and mountains (before I got lazy), never got it wet and never dropped it. Any time these guys want to drop a lens, I'll swap em one! They can have my rarely used 300mm to smash and I'll treat their $2k one with the love and respect it deserves!

  32. Frank N. Stein

    I said the same for years (a proper laptop for getting work done vs. a Tablet for media consumption) until I had to do Enterprise MDM Support utilizing Airwatch console. Cloud based apps are on the rise and large companies are definitely using them. Laptops are actually cheaper and more actual work can be done with them, but Tablets (particularly iPads) have been popular for a while. Seeing as how Apple isn't selling as many iPads these days, perhaps Enterprise businesses are getting wise to the idea of spending less and getting more? One can only hope.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      seen the light at last! Plenty of people have been saying this for ages. My wife worked for a large corporate that introduced iPADS did her head in as they couldn't do half the stuff she actually need to do so she still had to take her laptop and the bleddy iPAD which basically had one function that you could have used the laptop for anyway!

      Tablets are great for consumers not so much for business (except maybe win8.1 tablets like the Surface, etc)

    2. mmeier

      Oh x86 based tablet pc with a full-sized OS (Meaning: Windows since no other company supports pens and handwriting on that level of capabilities) can be quite useful. Depending on the job a Baytrail or a core i unit will do nicely for all non-software development jobs. For SD jobs one might prefer a convertible.

      Properly supported with a dock (and a notebook needs one as well for office jobs(1)) they combine ease of portability for meetings and good keyboard/monitor for normal work, run all the standard software, integrate in the company network just like any notebook etc.

      Network admins LOVE them since they require no "Extrawurst" treatment.

      (1) A pure notebook would be illegal as a permanent "computer workplace" in germany due to the "non adjustable distance/viewing hight of the screen" among other things

  33. Permidion

    best travel companion

    just get a transformer type device, running on x86 proc, that beat simple tablet on the productive side (undockable keybord ftw!) while keeping the advantage of the tablet.

    I own an acer iconia w510 and for nothing in the world would I get any else for travel (true the proc is a bit weak compared to your average laptop, but you will not use this for gaming or compiling so it's not a problem)

  34. Avatar of They

    Nice read.

    Ignoring comments about Iproducts and how it should have been done (file it in B for bin perhaps)

    Good article, laptops FTW if you wanna' do actual work. Leave tables to media consumption.

  35. mmeier

    Actually: Travell with a USEFUL Tablet PC

    What is the problem? Any decend tablet pc can handle that workload. Okay, decend units use a full sized OS (Windows) and a full sized CPU (Intel core i or Atom) coupled to standard ports. But OTOH they work just fine with all the software and all the accessories one wants.

    My old EP121 (core i5) even ran Lightroom during my trips if needed to check the RAW, worked fine with eiter DPP or the external SD card reader for downloading from the DSLR etc. And the more modern units have more endurance, more memory and even better CPUs if needed. All below 1 kg with a useable BT keyboard (the old EP121 was slightly above the kilo).

    Even the Lenovo TPT10 worked in a pinch (not with Lighroom) and the new Surface/3 has more CPU power and looks like a nice replacement (even so it is NTRIG rather than WACOM) from the first short test.

  36. santoman

    Nexus 10...

    Honestly, I've taken many a business trip with my camera and my nexus 10. I pull the card out of the camera, and put it in my sdcard adapter, and plug it into my nexus. I can use any sort of file manager (I use ES File Explorer) and move things around seamlessly.

    With the way most apps are on android and IOS, I prefer the more open system. Apple's just crazy closed, and is getting to the point where, even my GF is getting confused by how things work in IOS. She doesn't want her stuff going to Icloud all the time and the lack of web interface causes her to not be able to share pictures with friends easily.

    It is what it is, try a android tablet (Oh yeah it now supports MS Office!), and keyboard, and give that a good. I think you'll be happy. :)

    1. Steve Gill

      Re: Nexus 10...

      Same with a cheap Windows tablet - tablet, keyboard & mouse will come in well below £200. Office 365 is free. You have the whole range of Windows software available for editing and formatting as well as a lot of hardware available for adapters etc..

      So, yes, I think we can all agree that the tasks there would have been easy if you hadn't chosen the only tablet intentionally designed not to communicate with the rest of the world.

  37. pprotus
    Thumb Up

    One of the best... articles I've seen this year. Keep up the good work.

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