I go to Japan three to five times a year. Every time I go, I take a set of my computing gear, including a PC with a charger and a mouse, two cell phones (one for Japan and the other for the US) with chargers, a digital recorder, a digital camera, and a bunch of USB memory, which I carry just in case. It is very unlikely that I’d interview someone with a digital recorder. With the iPhone, I do not need a digital camera. I always plan to write a bunch of blogs and articles on the road, and usually end up with no results at all. But it is a habit to take all this stuff. It gets very heavy and gives me a stiff shoulder.
So this time I tossed my digital camera and PC out of my bag and experimented with my iPad. With the iPad, I do not need a mouse or USB memory. Its charger is smaller and much lighter. Here’s what I found out.
- The shoulder bag got much lighter (1.8 pounds vs. 4.2 pounds). This is helpful. If you are in the US, you can carry a heavy bag from your car for the short distance to your place of meeting. In Japan, you walk a lot, and the heavy bag is not very convenient, especially in crowded trains at rush hours.
- The always-on feature helps me to use it without booting up. If I don’t use audio or video applications, it lasts long enough to get to Japan (some ten hours).
Even without an Internet connection, I can check calendars and documents via DropBox and Documents.
- Support for English and Japanese works flawlessly.
- Power consumption of the iPad is less. It consumes 12W while my HP PC uses 65W.
- An iPad is basically a read-only device and is not really suitable for writing, except for short messages in email and other documents.
- An iPad does not support USB memory unless in a special format, which does not help me very much. I do not want to upload sensitive files to the Internet via DropBox.
Now how did I cope with the two cons? This may not work for you unless you have a situation similar to mine. I travel to Tokyo and Osaka. I have close relatives living in these cities with a PC and an Internet connection. So if I need to use a PC, I borrow theirs and both problems above are solved.
From an energy efficiency point of view, an airplane can be lighter, consuming less fuel, and power consumption by an iPad is lighter, too.
With the two problems fixed, I would be happier. Incidentally, on this trip, I converted one of my relatives from a PC to an iPad. In Japan, Apple iPads are still very popular. She does not carry her PC around or write long documents, and she has minimum exposure to computing technologies. So far she is happy.