?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Living without regrets - delta_november

Oct. 17th, 2011

09:00 pm - Living without regrets

Previous Entry Share Next Entry

The vacation plans continue to gel, and become even more awesome.  Today I bought one of the last tickets to White Mischief.  This is a steampunk party happening in London on October 27.  Tomorrow is for details, like buying plane tickets to get to London.  On October 28 I'll fly down to Falkland for two weeks, and tag Ascension Island for three days on the way back.  There may then be a prolonged putter around the UK at the end of it all.

I shall need to go shopping for a bunch of gear, and spend some time preparing the tools that I do have.  I need an ebook reader, to lighten my load.  Possibly a new  computer too.  My backpack and sleeping bag were bought in 1995, and I should see if they're still up to the job.  I need to load maps into my GPS, since I expect the Falklands weren't in its default set.  Maybe new raingear, since my 1996 Goretex jacket has blown its primary zipper.

Comments:

[User Picture]
From:probabilistic
Date:October 18th, 2011 01:08 am (UTC)
(Link)
That sounds awesome. When you pick an ereader I'd be curious to know which one, and how you like it. I'm leaning toward the Sony reader wifi, but waiting until it's actually available in Canada (supposedly in a month). The salespeople at the Sony store told me I'm welcome to bring in pdfs to try them out on the reader before buying.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:delta_november
Date:October 18th, 2011 02:02 am (UTC)
(Link)
I was rather hoping you could tell me what I should be buying :). Until now I've had no call for any sort of an ereader, so I haven't really paid any attention.

My decision will probably come down to whatever is physically available in the next few days. I'd love to have some sort of ereader/Internet tablet that also has long battery life, is robust, and light enough to hike with. Not sure if it exists. My current portable Internet is a Lenovo netbook which is a pretty wretched thing.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:probabilistic
Date:October 18th, 2011 03:08 am (UTC)
(Link)
Aha, ok.

So, in general your options are: tablet, LCD-based e-reader, or e-Ink e-reader.

An advantage of getting a regular tablet is that you're not locked into using a particular store's e-books (you can install apps for kindle, kobo, nook, google books, sony reader, etc), and the browser isn't horrible. The popular ones are also available locally -- Galaxy tab (android), iPad2, Blackberry Playbook, random other ones you'll find in Futureshop, etc. The downside is that your battery life is probably only about 8 hours. These generally have lots of internal memory (up to 32 GB I think). The Galaxy Tab and the iPad (2) have both wifi and cell network connectivity (with plan), and I think the Playbook is only wifi. You might be able to get a discount on the Playbook right now, since they're losing to the iPad. You can find the Playbook and the iPad2 in Staples, the Apple Store of course also has iPads, and various cell phone stores and Future shop have the Galaxy Tab and Playbook.

Of the LCD-based e-readers, I'm only familiar with the Nook Color. I don't think you'd be able to find it in Toronto, but Barnes and Noble does ship internationally. Nice browser, but it's got an 8-hour battery life. It has wifi but not 3G, and you can add a micro-SD card for more storage.

For maximum battery life, you want an e-ink device - battery life of a month or so. A drawback is that the browsers on e-ink readers are generally pretty poor - you can try it out in store to see if it works for you. Locally you can find the Kindle (I think still the Kindle 3, not the new Kindle Touch), the Kobo, and the Sony Reader. There might be a few other random ones around but those are the biggies. Further details:

Kobo is in Chapters/Indigo. Newest model is the Kobo Touch, 6" e-ink pearl screen, wifi only, SD card slot.

Sony is in the Sony Store (Eaton ctr) or Staples. Newest models are Reader Pocket Edition and Reader Touch. They're both touch screen. The Reader Pocket Edition is 5" e-ink pearl screen, wifi only, no card slot. The Reader Touch has a 6" older-generation e-ink screen, wifi only, and it does have a card slot.

Kindles are in Staples. I've only seen the Kindle 3 here (now called "Kindle Keyboard" on Amazon). No touch screen. 6" E-ink pearl screen, wifi OR wifi+3G, no card slot. The nice thing about the Kindles is that if you get the 3G option, you get "worldwide" free 3G, wherever it is available. Yes in Europe, probably not the Falklands. If you want one of the new Kindles, Amazon is shipping the cheapest model - no touch screen, ad-supported but you can pay later to get rid of that.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:delta_november
Date:October 19th, 2011 06:39 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Thanks very much! I suspected you might be informed on this subject :).

I have just ordered a Kindle Keyboard 3G from Amazon, which should arrive on Friday. A little digging shows that the older Keyboard model allows web browsing via 3G. The Kindle Touch will buy books over 3G, but only surf via wifi.

I believe my electronics complement now works out to:
- Kindle Keyboard. I will believe the 2 months boast, and bring no charger.
- Nokia smartphone. Doubles as MP3 player and camera. I'll need to bring the charger too, as I don't fancy having to ration the on time in the UK.
- Ham radio. No charger. Mainly for use receiving weather broadcasts and so on.
- Camera. Takes AA batteries, which can be sourced locally.
- GPS. Takes AA (or AAA?) batteries, which can be sourced locally.

I'm not thrilled by the amount of junk I'll be lugging around. When I did my last solo adventure (way back in '95) my only electrical device was a Ham radio. I have evidently become soft in my old age.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:probabilistic
Date:October 19th, 2011 07:15 pm (UTC)
(Link)
GPS. Takes AA (or AAA?) batteries, which can be sourced locally.

I continue to be frustrated at the current state of smartphone navigation software. I want to be able to navigate using the GPS in my phone, without using data roaming. Google Maps will only let me download an area with a 10-mile radius, which is useless for this. Garmin is finally producing apps with downloadable maps, but they're only available for the iPhone so far, and only North America and the UK. Fail, fail, fail.

That being said, if you really don't want to take another device and don't mind throwing money at the problem, I suppose there's always the option of unlocking your phone and buying a local sim card with data, wherever you're traveling. You might be going to places that are sufficiently remote that this isn't practical though. :)
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:delta_november
Date:October 19th, 2011 07:50 pm (UTC)
(Link)
My Nokia will download maps of my choice from a central server. However I don't trust it at all. If I need a GPS fix then things have already gone wrong. If it's pouring rain at night I'd rather deal with my GPS receiver's sealed rubber buttons than a touchscreen on a phone with flaky battery life.

But yes, this is ridiculous. I should only require one device to do all of these jobs. I don't mind solving my problems by throwing money [my hourly rate is so stupidly high at this point that the principal cost of buying any consumer electronics is my time in the store], but this device doesn't seem to exist right now.

I will pick up a British SIM card, and my Nokia is unlocked. That still doesn't get me any signal in Falklands or Ascension (and neither will the Kindle, of course). I begin to understand why my father threw out his iPhone and went Iridium...
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:probabilistic
Date:October 19th, 2011 08:14 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Huh, Iridium says something about their latest handset being google-maps-enabled, but some googling indicates that this feature isn't for your own navigation, rather it lets your employer track your handset on google maps (for search and rescue type things, I guess). Too bad, missed opportunity on their part.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:delta_november
Date:October 19th, 2011 08:00 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Also, where are the methanol fuel cells that we were promised would power all of our electronics in the future?
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:probabilistic
Date:October 18th, 2011 03:08 am (UTC)
(Link)
(sorry, this was too big for one comment)

Other factors that I've been considering, that you may or may not care about:

PDF support. PDFs look great on all the LCD devices, but not so much on the e-ink displays. One big problem is that the e-Ink displays have only pre-set zoom levels, so they fail pretty badly for looking at 2-column pdfs - there's no zoom level that fits a column well. I've played with Alex's Kindle in lab, using a Smallsat paper. There are tools you can use to convert the pdf into the native format of the e-reader, but these are buggy. The reason I'm waiting on the next Sony Reader is that it supposedly lets you pinch-to-zoom to an arbitrary zoom level on pdfs. I'm eager to see how this will work. Also, supposedly with the Kobo you have to convert your PDFs before putting them on the device - at least with the Kindle and Sony Reader you can just transfer it over via USB or SD card, no special conversion software necessary. Not sure about the Nooks.

Library support. Many public libraries, including the Toronto Public Library, lend e-books using Overdrive. The Sony readers have library book checkout support, using Overdrive. Adobe Digital Editions is installed on the device, to handle DRM. The Nooks and Kobos can also do library lending through Overdrive, but you have to install Adobe Digital Editions on your computer and then add the e-reader as an external device, and drag the files over. It's kind of cumbersome, but there are tutorials online. The new Kindles supposedly support library lending with the same ease as the Sony readers. According to wikipedia, the old Kindles now do as well. This was not the case a few months ago, so I'm thinking they all got a software update when the new Kindles were announced. Overdrive is also available as an app for the iPad, Blackberry, and Android devices, so you can install it on your tablet.

In terms of robustness/weight, the e-ink devices are definitely lighter than the LCD devices, but probably slightly less robust. I wouldn't put anything heavy on it. Regardless of the type of device you get, you'll want to get a protective case, which should be OK for putting any of them in a backpack or something.

Finally, here's a handy page on Wikipedia, so you can do a direct feature comparison.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_e-book_readers
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:probabilistic
Date:October 18th, 2011 03:29 am (UTC)
(Link)
Ah, and I should mention that I've seen Windows tablets as well, in places like the cell phone stores and Future Shop. I'm not a huge Windows fan so I haven't been paying much attention, but they exist. I think the only Overdrive app for Windows is for the Windows Phone, but according to the Overdrive site you can use it through the Kindle software for Windows, if you like.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:kiwano
Date:October 18th, 2011 02:31 pm (UTC)
(Link)
You have a Goretex jacket from '96 that's usable apart from a broken zipper? My rainjacket from 2003, (aka my "[boat]yard jacket") was singled out by some of my friends during haul-out as possibly being too work out even for a yard jacket. (Though to be fair, my yard jacket has seen a lot of heavy (ab)use).

Also, sounds like a pretty sweet trip.
(Reply) (Thread)