Geek Zen: When smaller and lighter are no longer optional

Holiday travel is the most brutal of tests of your choices regarding tablets and laptops. Specially when it involves a heavy amount of air travel.

(Photo: get-ergonized.blogspot.ca)

(Photo: get-ergonized.blogspot.ca)

There’s something to be said about laptops on a plane. Namely, that the more you get used to a smaller footprint of a laptop, the better off you’ll be when it’s time to open it inside an aircraft. As you probably can tell, I do holiday travel every year and it’s a hassle when you want to use your gadgets on a plane so you can burn four to five hours of boredom.

Unless you can fly first class or business class, you’re probably familiar with couch. You get stuck in a very constricted space that turns even smaller when your neighbor on the seat in front of you decides to recline his chair just an inch from your face. I don’t know how there aren’t more reports of laptop screens crushed by reclining seats.

When you drop down the tray table, there’s a small alcove that forms in the seat. Brave souls can attempt to insert the screen in there. However if the seat in front suddenly drops prepare to say goodbye to the laptop. I can attest for the Mac Air 11-inch screen to barely survive there on an American Airlines’ 737. However, since I’m not sure how hard my neighbor is going to recline I usually wait until he does before inserting the screen in this potential trash compactor.

Once I know that I can open my screen into that alcove I have two things: a few more degrees so I can see my movie and my laptop can be moved forward a couple of inches from my gut. I have no clue how people with larger screens/larger laptops do this. A little less space and we will be left with tablet space only.

In my last trip, the Mac Air’s battery impressed me with another characteristic. Not only does the 9 hour battery perform well, it also re-charges quite fast. In less than 20 minutes my 30% something battery was already close to 70%. That makes a huge difference. On the other hand, although Apple says an Air will give you 8 hours of constant movie playing, it does seem to burn quicker if you decide to fast-forward through scenes. The quick-release power plug helps a lot if kids running amuck decide to trip your power cable.

(Photo: jailbreakipad2.biz)

(Photo: jailbreakipad2.biz)

And speaking about tablets… I just went back to the store the other day and changed my iPad Air for an iPad Mini (yes, with retina). As much as I loved the larger screen real state to read comics, the iPad Air STILL is too heavy and cumbersome to lift. As you can see on the picture on the left, there’s a point where you get sleepy and the iPad Air will punch you in the face. To prevent that, a lighter version is needed.

The deal with the iPad Mini is that 7.9 inches is a big difference from the Nexus’ 7-inch screen. Comics-wise (since comic books were my reason to get the iPad Air) it’s still much larger than the Nexus meaning the loss of screen size is not constricting. Besides the lighter build helping you read in bed, the iPad Mini is light enough to travel with a laptop on the same bag without breaking your shoulder. Also, the Comixology App for iOS is a lot sleeker and with more features than the Android one.

And on a final note that is not Geek but still very Zen, I’m giving up on compacting two weeks worth of clothing in a bag that is just a little larger than a gym bag. After having to drag one of those through Miami International for two days you will gladly return to a proper piggyback with wheels on it. Your shoulder and your back will be spared a lot of pain. It’s a lesson I should’ve learned a long time ago.

(Photo Credits: Get-Ergonized, Jailbreak iPad 2)

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  1. #1 by Cheap Ethnic Eatz (@cethniceatz) on January 13, 2014 - 2:42 pm

    Glad that battery life worked out like you had mentioned. Great trips for travelling, will use them on my next one.

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