Great electronic tool for travelers
Posted on Nov 11, 2013 by
Let me start by saying that the younger can probably ignore this post and move on. I`m in my early 50s and have an entirely different technological frame of reference than those of you belonging to the wired generations. On the other hand, if you`re like me and think "wired" means having had too much coffee, you`ll want to read this.
While traveling, I use a computer only to contact family back home, read email, and maybe consult a Web site or two. I obsess about traveling light and hate lugging a laptop just for these few functions, yet internet cafes in many parts of the world are getting scarce. And I don`t want to use a Blackberry/PDA/smart phone while overseas (expense, airtime charges, etc.). However, I think I found a great alternative: the iPod touch (Apple spells it with a lower- case "t"). It`s kind of a cross between an iPod, a PDA, and a micro computer. Before this, I didn`t own an iPod nor did I miss having one. I actually bought this iPod for it`s laptop-like features. The big one is WIFI, along with Apple`s Safari Web browser, iCal (calendar), Mail, and Address Book applications. It also has the usual iPod sound/photo/video capabilities, plus a vivid, high resolution color 3.5" screen (diagonal measure) that works vertically or horizontally. It comes with either 8GB, 16GB, or 32GB of flash memory (no hard drive inside, unlike all other iPods). No hard drive means much better battery life than other iPods. All of this in a 4.2 ounce package that`s only 8mm thick!
The Web features work anywhere you can find a WIFI signal. While not as widely available as cell phone signals, WIFI networks are quickly becoming more common and many of them have free access (airports, hotels, libraries, etc.). The screen is much smaller than even the smallest laptop, but the touch allows you to very easily zoom-in on Web pages, maps, documents, etc. The internet connection speed isn`t as fast as a laptop, but absolutely acceptable (on my home WIFI network it`s like a slow broadband connection or extremely fast dialup). When you consider the iPod touch`s tiny size and weight, I think its capabilities and performance are nothing short of amazing. It will allow me the minimal "connectivity" I want while traveling, but is a fraction of the weight and bulk of even the smallest laptop.
Unfortunately, the iPod touch is not cheap. The 8GB model is $299US, the 16GB is $399US, and the 32GB is $499US. Apple has separate Web sites offering small discounts on purchases of their products by US federal or state government employees (yes, for personal use), teachers, and students. For example, I work for the US government and paid $281 for my 8GB iPod, including free engraving and free shipping. I did have to pay state sales tax. Even at that, it was indeed a splurge; an early birthday gift to myself.
I have no personal or professional affiliation with Apple. I simply think this a great product for those of us who like to travel light.