Traveling and Electronics

I am traveling back to the states for a visit early next month. It’s something I do twice a year and like most expats, I need to rethink the list of stuff that I need to return home with. This means some preplanning as far as discerning what if any of my small stock of clothing or housegoods need replacing as well as seriously shortlisting my perceived electronics wants into one of actual needs.

Here’s the deal. I view my personal electronics simply as the repositories and replicators of my digital self. Example. I write therefore I need a writing platform, a storage platform and a way to copy it all and transmit it. I take photos so my requirements there are the same. I also have some music and video content which requires storage and playback.

When I am not traveling I have no worries as I’ve got a big workstation at home that more than adequately handles all my needs.

Alas it’s the travel piece that continues to require some scrutiny. I say continues with some seriousness because except for the brief rise and all to sudden disappearance of the 10″ netbook there have been no real contender for a one size serves all electronic travel platform.

Smartphone? Too damn small. Tablet? Wrong apps. Wrong UI. Chromebook? Too big and too underpowered to be a candidate.

Okay, so I have a pretty decent smartphone. It’s Windows 10 and has the Microsoft Office suite loaded on it. But Microsoft in all their wisdom has mandated that one can only create and edit Word docs on monitors and displays smaller than 10″. Smart (for them). So if you want to plug your phone into any big HDMI driven big screen TV than you had better be satisfied viewing videos or surfing the web; forget writing docs, editing spreadsheets, or otherwise creating content.

So it seems my real travel problem essentially comes down to one of having access to a comfortable sub-10″ monitor. I already have a small travel sized Bluetooth keyboard and mouse that work well with my phone, I just now need a suitably sized display surface.

And a couple of days ago I found one. It turns out there is an 8″ Windows 10 tablet out there that interestingly enough meets all my needs.

Windows 10 supports a relatively new wireless technology called Miracast which is essentially a wireless HDMI connection between your computer and a TV/monitor.

So this is how it’s going to work. I’ll connect my keyboard and mouse to my phone then wirelessly broadcast the Windows 10 desktop on my phone to the 8″ display on the tablet.

[If] the Windows 10 tablet already comes loaded with the Microsoft Office suite (some product descriptions say yeah, others say nay) then the Miracast solution is not necessary.

So it looks like what I’ll be packing gear wise on my month long trip to Oregon and Alaska this year will be a 6″ phone, an 8″ tablet, a small wireless keyboard and mouse, plus a small USB bridge, a handful of short cables, and a backup drive.

And it should all fit into a small bag measuring something like 12″X6″X3″ and weigh no more than a pound, a pound and a half, tops.

And the other small piece of good news here is that my new tablet can serve as an eBook reader not to mention can also do duty as an adequately sized video monitor, although I reckon I won’t be doing too much of either while spending time with my daughter in Oregon or while fishing and drinking whiskey with my buddy up in Alaska.

PS – I have much more to say on the subject. The electronics industry wants to presume they anticipate all our needs but the reality is they fall way short; many of us want them to finally deliver a heterogeneous platform that is truly ubiquitous and portable.

In the not to distant future all personal computing devices will be powerfully present yet not requiring cumbersome cables nor cooling factors, or with other limiting logistics.

I want it now.

One small portable machine to rule them all.




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