Over the last few years I have been traveling with my ultralight laptop. I’ve always enjoyed having a movie available, or leeching off random wifi to stay in contact and look up information while traveling. Even though it is lightweight and small, it was still too much for my liking. This last trip I tried an experiment. Could my iphone replace my laptop for travel?
Looking up travel info – Yes
Most websites work quite well on the iphone. There are even a number of travel apps popping up that make travel much easier – I had several apps for Busan and Seoul subway maps were quite useful. Google maps are pretty useful when you have a wireless connection available, but the geo-locate doesn’t work outside of the US/Canada (I don’t have 3g with built-in GPS). If Apple ever gets their act together and allows GPS apps with maps, the 3g iphone could be an amazing travel info device.
Email – Yes
The iphone works very well for quick emails. I’m looking forward to landscape keyboard layout with the next OS upgrade though.
Voice contact – Yes
I didn’t have service in Korea, so I used the iphone Skype app to make Skype out to calls to US phone numbers. I had several calls just under an hour and quality was quite good. The iphone gets pretty warm after a while, but stayed stable.
Blog – Yes
I didn’t do much of it this trip, but I was able to write up some quick posts using the wordpress app and upload them when I was near a wireless signal. I don’t think it would be much fun to write a novel, but it might be better with a landscape keyboard layout. The one downside is that any photos I wanted to include had to be on the iphone.
Storing and reviewing photos – No
With my laptop I was able to offload photos and review them each day. This isn’t possible at the moment with the iphone. Reviewing end of day photos helped a lot while I was still learning my SLR, but were also a big time-sink. I would have enjoyed looking the photos over on the fight back, but otherwise I’m glad I didn’t bother. As for photo storage, I had 14 GB of extreme III SDHC memory cards with me, and that was more than enough. Had I been needing more photo storage, an image tank would have been up to the job.
Work emergencies – Yes
Occasionally I need to connect to servers at work to bail someone out or fix something. With a laptop I typically establish a VPN connection and then use Remote Desktop to access the server or workstation. In this case, the Jaadu RDP iphone app was up to the job. I wouldn’t want to work on systems for a long time, but it is more than enough for quick fixes or file retrieval. I was able to login to our email server and check the event logs and services while at a cafe in Korea. Very cool.
The verdict – Yes
The iphone worked great for my style of travel. Other than reviewing photos on the plane I didn’t miss my laptop for a second. In fact, many times I was doing things that my laptop simply didn’t offer. I’ll be leaving the laptop behind next trip.