Staying “Connected” When Traveling By Motorcycle

These days it can be tough to cut the cords to the cyber-world when traveling.  So many of us do our banking online and inform others of where we’re at by using email, Facebook or Twitter.  Count us in on those who bank online and it is nice that if you’re gone for more than just a few days, you can check accounts, pay bills or even move money.

We did try once using our Windows Phone smartphones as a test and really didn’t like it.  While the browser on the phone is Internet Explorer, it wasn’t fun at all zooming in and out when entering passwords.  You really don’t want the mobile version set to store your username and password for you.  Not too long ago we did purchase a notebook computer (not a netbook) also know as a laptop.  We looked for a small footprint and size and got lucky with a good price on one.  We got even luckier when it was an LED display which made for an even thinner computer.  Last week when we went to Florida, Donna wanted to jump in and take the laptop with us.  I had already found that it would fit vertically in the top case of the K1200LT.  When you travel by motorcycle, even by touring motorcycle, space is at a premium.  But before leaving we wanted a padded sleeve or case for the computer which would make it even thicker.  We ended up buying small bag for it that wasn’t too bulky so Donna could use it for more than just for motorcycle travel.  When packing, I noticed we lost almost a third of the space in our top case bag just because of the computer being in top case too.  Something had to change if we wanted to take a long trip.

The top case and laptop bags in the top case. Both were empty for the picture.

We began thinking about tablet computer after the trip.  Donna had toyed with the idea of an iPad but already having a Nook e-book reader steered us towards the Nook Tablet with an Android operating system.  The size of many of the Android tablets was also smaller than the iPad, which was a plus for packing.  Then a last-minute contender entered the race, the BlackBerry PlayBook.  The cellular 4GLTE version was just coming out but we wanted a strictly WiFi unit which made us lucky.  We shopped around.  A 16GB iPad is $400 (more than we paid for our laptop) and most 8GB Android tablets are in the $200 or more price range.  Because there was a new PlayBook just released we got our 16GB BlackBerry PlayBook WiFi for only $159!  You know what they say, the cheapest thing on a BMW Motorcycle is the rider!  But really this tablet did everything we wanted it to do.  It will do email, address book and calendar, even synching with my Windows Live account.  If fact, the tablet gets mail before it’s pushed to my Windows Phone.  It has a full web browser that even handles Adobe Flash.  The screen is large enough and bright enough to see, use and enter passwords without zooming in and out.  While it is no laptop or iPad, it more than meets our needs.  We like the full web browser as our financial institutions are both credit unions and online banking is done using a web browser because there’s not always “an app for that”.  The BlackBerry PlayBook also feels hefty and robust in your hands.  It even does MS Office files right out of the box.  Even in it’s included padded neoprene sleeve it would fit in the clear zip top of the top case bag with room to spare.  I’ve been playing with it around the house now for 2 days and really enjoy it.  We don’t see connectivity as being an issue as it seems most hotels and other places now offer a WiFi connection.  Even if we don’t have WiFi, our Verizon Smartphones have the ability to become a “WiFi Hot Spot” as long as we can get a data connection.  The size will make it a lot easier to pack in the future too.  Unlike BlackBerry smartphones there is no data plan required with a cellular provider and is a stand alone tablet PC that can use a WiFi connection.  If you do have a BlackBerry phone though, there are additional features available.  This isn’t an endorsement of the PlayBook, but more of a report on the choice we made and why.  We were more interested in a tablet that didn’t take up much space and traveled well.  As we travel with it, we’ll write more about it.

The laptop with the BlackBerry PlayBook. Which would be easier to pack? The smart phone was added for additional size reference.

Categories: General | Tags: | 7 Comments

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7 thoughts on “Staying “Connected” When Traveling By Motorcycle

  1. A fellow spirit. Great Post… I’m always looking for better ways to stay in touch… I hope to get so trip ideas from you. We haven’t rode to Florida yet.

    I’ve add you to my RSS feed so I can read more. We just got back from a ride in Arkansas & Oklahoma with my ridding friends from Bryant Alabama and Tunnel Hill Georgia.


    • We did consider more than the BlackBerry PlayBook too. I’m sorry but the iPad dropped out of the competition pretty quick because of its price and to a lesser degree, its footprint. When we saw the PlayBook price we were very interested. We have yet to find any compromises we made in getting the PlayBook.


  2. I am really liking this Playbook option. We’ll have to talk more about it soon when I can actually look at it and feel it’s heft. But it sounds exactly what I am looking for as a virtual touring companion. I have tried the laptop, and as you say, it is just too big…even my 14 inch version.


    • Phil, I don’t remember if you sent this before or after we chatted, but I’d meet you for a cup of coffee and bring the PlayBook.


  3. I carry a Dell Inspiron Mini 9 netbook with a 64GB solid state hard drive. They’re out of production, but you can still find them used on Ebay. The SSD is immune to shocks and jolts. I’ve used it since February, 2009. Has its own Wifi or you can use it with a 3G/4G air card.


  4. Jan Herron

    Chris, you know I got an Ipad just before my big trip and I really do love it. Because of all the things you can download for it, I eliminated my Nook because it has an ap for that. Granted, it was expensive but it really fits everywhere. I had bought a netbook before the Ipad and was terribly disappointed with it. ‘fortunately it was easy to sell to someone else. I did find, however, that out west, there were some problems hooking to the WIFI at some of the cheap hotels because of it being Apple. You won’t have that problem. 🙂 Glad you’re happy with it.


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