More thinking on travelling without a laptop

When it comes to the technology that I carry with me on trips away, I have begun to start weighing devices on my kitchen scales. The results are a little revealing. The HP Pavilion dm5 that has gone with me to Ireland and other places weighs between 2.5 and 3 kg while my Apple iPad Mini 2 comes in at 764 grams. My 12.9″ iPad Pro with its Logitech keyboard weighs between these at 110 to 1200 grams. The idea of consolidating computing devices for travel has been discussed on here before now and the main thing stopping my just going with the iPad Pro was the viewing of photos without filling up its 32 GB of storage space.

Since then, I just may have found a workaround and it is another gadget, this time weighing only a few hundred grams: a 1 TB WD My Passport Wireless portable hard drive. Aside from having a SD card slot that allows the automatic backup of photos, it also can connect with tablets and phones using WiFi broadband.

WD My Passport Wireless

It is the WD My Cloud app that makes the connections to mobile devices useful and it works smoothly on iOS and Android devices too. Nevertheless, there is more functionality on the latter ones such as DNG file support and an added slide show feature that works with JPEG files. Both of these are invaluable for viewing photos and I feel a little short-changed that they are not available on iOS. Hopefully, that will get resolved sooner rather than later.

Thankfully, my Pentax K5 II DSLR camera can be persuaded to save DNG and JPEG files simultaneously so that they can be viewed full screen on both types of devices without having to transfer them onto the tablet first as you would with Apple’s SD card reader. Usefully, that gets around my oversight in buying iPads with only 32 GB of storage each. That now looks like a false economy given what I am trying now.

Such is the weight difference, just taking along my Apple iPad Pro and the WD device will save around 1 kg and there is less fuss at airport security screening too. While my HTC phone would suffice for seeing photos as slide shows, I am wondering if my battered Google Nexus 9 could come too. The only dilemma then would be how to pack things since I am not sure how a large iPad screen would seem to cabin crew or other passengers during take off and landing. That makes using the Nexus 9 onboard more of a proposition and the iPad might go into the hold luggage to make life a little easier. Still, that choice is a minor concern now that I can try travelling overseas without a laptop to see how I get along.

On keyboards

There cannot be too many Linux users who go out and partner a Microsoft keyboard with their system but my recent cable-induced mishap has resulted in exactly that outcome. Keyboards are such standard items that it is not so possible to generate any excitement about them, apart from RSI-related concerns. While I wasn’t about to go for something cheap and nasty that would do me an injury, going for something too elaborate wasn’t part of the plan either, even if examples of that ilk from Microsoft and Logitech were sorely tempting.

Shopping in a bricks and mortar store like I was has its pluses and its minuses. The main plus points are that you see and feel what you are buying with the main drawback being that the selection on offer isn’t likely to be as extensive as you’d find on the web, even if I was in a superstore. Despite the latter, there was still a good deal available. There were PS/2 keyboards for anyone needing them but USB ones seemed to be the main offer with wireless examples showcased too. Strangely, the latter were only available as kits with mice included, further adding to the cost of an already none too cheap item. The result was that I wasn’t lured away from the wired option.

I didn’t emerge with what would have been my first choice because that was out of stock but that’s not to say that what I have doesn’t do the job for me. Key action is soft and cushioned rather than clicky like that to which I am accustomed; some keyboards feel like they belong on a laptop but not this one. There are other bells and whistles too with a surprising number of them working. The calculator and email buttons number among these along with the play/pause, back and forward ones for a media player; I am not so convinced about the volume controls though an on-screen indicator does pop up. You’d expect a Microsoft item to be more Windows specific than others but mine works as well as anything else in the Ubuntu world and I have no reason to suspect that other Linux distros would spurn it either. Keyboards are one of those “buy-it-and-forget-it” items and the new arrival should be no different.

Mouse trouble

For my home computing purposes, I use a Logitech MX700 cordless mouse. I have used a variety of Logitech devices over the years and never had any real trouble with them. Today, though, the MX700 failed to move the pointer around the screen. The first thing that comes to mind is connectivity, particularly as I use a Belkin OmniCube two port KVM switch. A quick test with my now retired MouseMan+ (it’s great when old kit backs you up: you wonder why you replaced it in the first place) confirmed that everything was OK on that front. Then, the thought struck me that the rechargeable NiMH batteries might have given up the ghost and were no longer recharging. I tried an old pair of NiCd‘s and everything seemed to work in spite of their not being fully charged. I will continue to use the MouseMan+ until they are fully charged and I will acquire some new NiMH rechargeables and monitor how everything goes.