This one is a bit long. I've been looking around for an all purpose mobile device. I tend not to use devices much when I'm out on the go, and if I do use a device it is for pretty simple stuff. Looking up stuff online, checking the weather, looking at maps, quick calculations, using an ephemeris, maybe playing Angry Birds at the airport terminal. Either way, I do like to have something. What really matters to me are some little quirks:
1. It must be small and lightweight (otherwise, I would just buy a MB pro).
2. It must have a high quality screen and high resolution (iPad Mini is just too small).
3. It must be able to interface in some way with a CF card or a second device for that purpose must not be self-defeatingly expensive.
4. I'm a minimalist, so the less accessories the better (especially connectors/adapters).
There is one more stipulation, but that is where I'm having trouble with my decision. If I could identify today a device that meets every mark, I'd buy it right now. Problem is that there isn't one since the last stipulation is up in the air. That stipulation is storage space. The device cannot ever run out of space. Now, that might sound a bit crazy, but that is pretty easy for me. I never use much storage space... except when we start talking about photos. Additionally, if the device (iPad) is going to be off grid, I'll have to cache maps. I just can't seem to find any storage requirements (or average sizes) for map caches, so I have no idea how much those would take up, too.
When I'm on a photo trip, I produce about 2 - 8 GB of photos per day of shooting or 12.5 - 18 GB per week (includes days lost to traveling). These photos must be stored redundantly. I have five 16 GB SD cards, one 8 GB CF, and eight 4 GB CF cards. I have never filled them all up. I usually make it home a good bit before that point. So here's the dilemma:
MB Air (13")
- Real keyboard
- 128 GB base (more than enough)
- Already own a CF to USB adapter
- Can use Lightroom 4 for editing while out (though I am leaning towards just waiting to get home)
- $1200 - $1900
- 1440x900 (for now)
- Double the weight of an iPad
- Would never see home use
- Pain to pull out and store photos if in the field
- If post processing is not done while on the road, Air is more device than needed
- Smaller form factor
- Easier to read books on
- Longer battery life (2 - 3 more hours)
- LTE version can do GPS (ultimately as a mounted device in a car dashboard)
- 16 GB base model
- No physical keyboard (not really a big deal)
- 128 GB model is $800 or $930 (not far from the Air)
- May require storage accessory for camera or iPad for ~$250 - $500 additional
- Requires an accessory to interface with CF cards (the device mentioned above might already have)
The choices so far are looking like:
A. Macbook Air - $1200 or $1600 (for on road processing; today's prices)
B. 128 GB iPad - $800 or $930 (for GPS) + ~$30 for adapter for Camera/CF to iPad + $50 for cover
C. 16 GB iPad - $500 or $630 (for GPS) + $300 for 120 GB external storage that takes CF/SD + $50 for cover
The real difference in option B and C is that B requires I pull out the iPad and connector to store photos, which is only a problem when in the field. Option C allows me to pull out the photo storage device only, but it assumes that the 16 GB iPad can hold plenty of cached maps (and maybe a few GB of music and ten small apps). I might not have accounted for everything... but what do you fellows think? Also, does anyone have any idea what a ballpark ratio of storage space to geogrpahic size of cached maps might be?
In case anyone is wondering, the secondary stoarge device I would pick to use with the iPad would be the Hyperdrive Colorspace UDMA2. It reads in CF and SD, connects to the iPad via Wifi (usb connector is sold separately), and doesn't even need to connect to the iPad to store photos. 120 GB model is $300, as a reference point.