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Which tablet

I am planning a 2 or 3 month European trip. I think I should bring a phone for calls, data and camera. In addition, I'm tempted to bring a tablet for the bigger screen while using the internet and for digital guide books, since I plan to go all over Europe. I pack light and want to avoid carrying huge physical copies of the guidebooks. Yet, I have traveled with an iPad and found it to add unwanted weight to my back pack. Any suggestions on a lighter tablet or an alternative arrangement?

Posted by
597 posts

Have you considered the large iPhone? The screen is almost iPad Mini-like, and you would have all the functions you mention in one device rather than two. Having said that, my wife and I, though we are lightweight packing obsessives, take a regular-size iPhone and an iPad Mini on our travels.

Posted by
2290 posts

iPad mini could work. Or a kindle fire - I don't find this as easy as an iPad but it is lighter and much cheaper.

Posted by
901 posts

I use an iPad mini. Takes up very little room and has good battery life. That said, if you take a lot of photos you may find your iPhone battery wears out before you get to your hotel at night to recharge. I brought along a small portable charger, which turned out to be useful. Not for me, but for several travel companions whose phones or iPads needed recharging. And about recharging -- be sure to look when you plug your devices in at night whether your outlet has an on/off switch. That's not a concept we, as Americans, are used to, but it is common in Europe. If you don't turn on the outlet, your device won't charge.

Posted by
6543 posts

I've got a cheap Chromebook and a Asus tablet with Windows 10--both just weighing a pound or two. Either does a great job when on the road--and the most expensive one was $159.

My 17" Dell laptop is set up in my office permanently and will never travel anywhere again.

Posted by
16826 posts

For a trip as long as yours I highly recommend a monster phone or a tablet-like device. I have an 8.4" Samsung (Android) tablet, and that is as large as I would want to go. Except on days when I'm changing hotels, I probably only carry it around with me about 1/4 of the time because of the weight--and I have a purse it easily fits in. But I can't imagine doing much travel research on my phone, so the weight is very much worth it to me.

Since you're a user of Apple products, you'll want to stay with that brand.

Posted by
7680 posts

Last year when I was asking this forum for advice on what to get to replace a dying Kindle they talked me in to an iPad Mini. I just finished trip number 2 with it and really like it. I like the guide book capability on the Kindle app which is much better than on the Kindle itself. I don't really like the camera, my iPhone6 takes better pictures. (Tech people will probably know why this is...)

Posted by
607 posts

I am a guy and I carry a shoulder bag all the time, at home or travelling. I always carry a 7" tablet, smartphone and wallet. I use the tablet on the go all the time for emails and internet. I like the bigger screen for my older eyes. On vacation, i add a good camera and travel documents into the bag. My current tablet is an Android, but I would have no problems recommending an iPad Mini instead. We use a full sized iPad at home. Anything over 8" gets too bulky to lug around. Android gives you better control, but Apple gives you better support and security updates. Both will allow you to do the same things, more or less.

An iPad Mini would be great. You may pay a bit more, but 3 or 4 years down the road, you will still be getting updates and security fixes. The iPad 2 is ancient and was still getting updates until about a month ago. If you want to go cheap, you can get a no- lo-brand Android for about $100 but there will be no updates. Samsung tablets are high quality; they are ipad wannabe's and their top models have the matching premium pricing. But the best you can hope for is about 2 years of support, maybe. Even if your Samsung model is lucky enough to get support or updates, it will be very slow coming. IMO, Samsung is more interested in selling you a new device than updating your old one. My tablet is a Samsung, so I know. My mantra is to buy a Nexus tablet or device. Nexus is google's brand and will always be updated first, but only guaranteed for 2 years. My phone is a Nexus 5. Unfortunately, Google has not produced a mini tablet since 2013. There are rumours of a new Nexus small tablet maybe in next few months.

Posted by
153 posts

I am prejudiced towards Macs but have taken an iPad Mini on 4 RS tours and it has worked out great. I prefer the mini over my wife's iPad.

Posted by
98 posts

iPad mini. Sometimes you can save money by getting a refurbished one with warranty from the Apple website. You can get a keyboard for it to make it easier to type to blog, write emails, pay bills, etc.

Posted by
172 posts

I second the recommendation for the ipad mini. I have traveled with mine since 2013. E-books, photos, email, social media, pdf copies of travel details. Perfect size. I also take an iPhone 6, slim keyboard, and charging brick. iPad & iPhone sync beautifully.

Posted by
507 posts

Something else to be aware of: if you are in a hotel where, when you are in your room, your key card is inserted in a little thing on the wall just inside the door, which turns the power on.......when you leave the room, your tablet or phone won't be recharging. I ran into that in June, in my hotel in Binz. I wondered why my Fitbit wasn't charged....duh, no power when the key card isn't inserted. :)

Posted by
16826 posts

My 2015-vintage Samsung tablet has no cellular chip but does use GPS satellites to pinpoint me on CityMaps2GoPro (Ulmon) maps.

Posted by
12 posts

BlockquoteNo, you do not need cellular coverage for GPS to work.
I have an iPad Mini 4, 64 GB with wifi only and the GPS works brilliantly. I used the GPS functionality just last week actually.

The saleswoman at Apple is telling me I must have cellular capability to use GPS. ($150 extra!) Were you able to use the included MAPS app on your iPad? And did you have a hard time finding wifi? (I will get lost in Italy I am sure!)

Posted by
607 posts

Judy, i believe you are correct. Wifi-only ipads do not have GPS. Only the ipads with cellular option has added gps (which i believe should still work without the data plan by reading the satelite signals).

It is possible to get your location using a wifi-only ipad, but you have to be connected to wifi e.g. In a hotel room. This does not help you if you are walking or driving without a wifi connection.

I like and use apple products, but this is a shame. My galaxy tab and every android tablet i have looked at has the gps built in.

FWIW, I almost never use my gps when i travel. A simple free hotel tourist map will get me around. The main attractions have been sitting in the same locations for more than a thousand years. And getting lost is a perfect excuse to talk to a local.

Posted by
16826 posts

I agree with funpig on preferring paper maps--for one thing, it's all too easy to stumble on cobblestones and see your phone or tablet go flying. But you can't count on always having obvious street signs when you're wandering around medieval neighborhoods. When I'm in a bit of hurry, perhaps rushing to catch a bus, that little blue dot is a big help in making sure I start out in the right direction.

The electronic gear is also helpful when I first arrive in town and don't yet have a map.

I'm pretty stunned that the iPad doesn't automatically include whatever hardware you need for GPS reception. My tablet has no cellular capability at all, but I have GPS access.

Posted by
4 posts

iPad mini always gets my vote. My partner has a 6+ and that's, in my opinion, nearly big enough to be considered a tablet.

Posted by
607 posts

Just as an FYI, I just received a "free" Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8.0" tablet on Air Miles Reward last week. It is lighter and thinner than the latest iPad mini. And the performance and battery life has been amazing. If you like using Android, this is probably the best tablet at this time, until the S3 comes out in the next few months. For me, the price was right, "free". I have to admit that if I had to pay actual cash, I would probably buy an iPad mini. Both the S2 and the iPads have the high premium pricing as top of the line tablets. But in my experience, Apple has way better support than Samsung so I think there is better long term value.

Posted by
73 posts

I am a big fan of my Nvidia Shield tablet. It's an Android, is about 8", and pretty light. Also, it was not too pricey at $199. Consumer Reports had it as the best tablet under $200 last summer when I bought it. The brand isn't too recognizable but I guess they are big with games (display is great).

Posted by
2 posts

iPad Mini, all the way! They are so light that any weight they add to your backpack is negligible. Plus they are nice and compact. As an Apple user for a number of years there is no way I'd want swap to another manufacturer or operating system. Call me an Apple snob, but what little experiences I have had of using other brands have been totally underwhelming. I'm sure you will feel similar as current Apple user. You also have the convenience of being able to walk into any Apple Store in Europe should you have any problems with your iPad whilst on your trip. I swear by my iPad mini, so much so that I have two! I actually went and bought a secondhand one from an auction website (http://www.used.forsale/ipad-mini) to use when I am travelling. That way, if it does get lost or stolen, it's not the end of the world. I've still got my iPhone as back up and my iPad back at home. Did I mention that I was an Apple fanboy, by the way? :)

Posted by
770 posts

I am completely addicted to my iPad and my super light MacBook. But I managed to pry them out of my hands and go away for seven weeks last summer with only my iPhone 6+ and a super light Logitech Keys to Go Bluetooth keyboard. It was very freeing to have only one device to carry and to charge, and I could do everything I normally do on my iPad. The pictures were good (could have been better if I had a shred of talent for framing photos and didn't take blurry pics of my feet), had wifi everywhere I stayed for surfing and keeping up with home, Google maps worked great. I would make the same choice again.

Oh, I also took a tiny Gorilla tripod to stand the phone up for reading and while typing on the keyboard. I occasionally used the tripod for photos too. The little combo was extremely light, easy to pack along and fully functional.