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Old 01-31-10, 08:01 AM   #1
heyisforhumans
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to bring a laptop or to not bring a laptop

4 months on the road, interest in stopping at some places for a few weeks at a time. Skype on computer and I don't have a cell phone. Anyone bring a laptop and wish they hadn't ...or not and wish they had? Will it likely break?
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Old 01-31-10, 09:52 AM   #2
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Internet cafes and public libraries will provide internet access to check e-mail, bank accounts and credit cards. A cheap pre-paid cell phone and a calling card will take care of telephone needs. What else do you need that justifies the extra bulk, weight and potential loss of a laptop?

Having said that, some of the newer netbooks are getting very compact, and very reasonably priced. I wouldn't bring anything bigger than a small netbook, though.
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Old 01-31-10, 10:18 AM   #3
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I wouldnt. you can get along just fine without one...

if you needed to work fromt he road in some freelance fashion that would be different, but email and phone calls can be done using the computers that exist everywhere....
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Old 01-31-10, 10:26 AM   #4
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I think if I bring something it should be a netbook. a really good one is only $250. I didn't even think of that before you said it. My laptop is just too big. I have a personal grievance against cellphones so I don't have one, and use skype instead and am very happy with that option. thanks for the inspiration
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Old 01-31-10, 10:38 AM   #5
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Are you going to be traveling in populated area? Is your laptop a netbook or at least fairly light and compact?Do you plan on doing a blog or CGOAB journal? If the answer to these questions is YES, then IMO you should take the laptop. Also, you are going to be stopping for weeks long periods and you won't have a cell phone? I definitely recommend the laptop.

I've brought a laptop and wished I hadn't. It was an old 12 pounder and the enormous weight wasn't quite worth the benefits. For my next tour I purchased a 3lb netbook. Loved it. Made getting online much easier. I think there are more cafe's with wifi around than libraries now.
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Old 01-31-10, 10:40 AM   #6
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My limit for a computer on tour is 8 ounces so it is a web enabled phone, something like my 7 ounce internet tablet (Nokia N800), or nothing. In my experience the biggest thing for being comfortable on tour is a reasonably light load. Heck I even mailed home my iPod, GPS, and lots of other stuff from the TA. I say shoot for 25 pounds including panniers and try hard to not exceed 30. To me that rules out a laptop or even a net book.

Some people don't mind carrying heavier loads though so YMMV.
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Old 01-31-10, 10:54 AM   #7
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I'm seriously considering the new iPad. Weighs in a 1.5 pounds...about the same as a three pack of Hostess Twinkies and serves as your book as well.
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Old 01-31-10, 10:58 AM   #8
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Touring is about getting away from it all, for me at least. Laptops and ipods are all out of the questions. I had a cellphone on my last tour that I really only used as a flashlight. My life is very computer oriented when I'm at home, and I enjoy pulling out a pen and notebook when I'm on the road.

That being said, there has been a lot of new computers coming out that can fit most people's needs, and they are only going to get lighter and more affordable.
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Old 01-31-10, 11:30 AM   #9
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I enjoy keeping a computer bog while on tour and without a computer, it is , well....difficult. I find the blog is a great way to remember where I've been and what I've done (you'll understand when you reach my age just what I'm talking about). I also have come to enjoy (do I dare get this started???) listening to an iPod during the day (yes, even while riding) and a laptop is a great way to sync new songs and to recharge it. A laptop is also a dandy way to process and store the daily digital pics. Finally, I've become a bit of a news junkie and my laptop is my portal to the news cycle.
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Old 01-31-10, 12:31 PM   #10
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I'm seriously considering the new iPad. Weighs in a 1.5 pounds...about the same as a three pack of Hostess Twinkies and serves as your book as well.
And can't connect to my digital camera and doesn't play flash... I was excited about it until they released it. Maybe the next update? It's close but at this point I think I'm going to go with the Nokia Booklet. Seems like a better choice for my needs including battery life.
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Old 02-02-10, 08:22 PM   #11
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4 months on the road, interest in stopping at some places for a few weeks at a time. Skype on computer and I don't have a cell phone. Anyone bring a laptop and wish they hadn't ...or not and wish they had? Will it likely break?
Depends on what, if anything, you need it for.

If you want to do email, stay in touch with people, and occasionally take a few notes, a smartphone is your best bet. Light, portable, decent battery life, handy to have a cell in case of emergency.

If you plan to write the Great American Novel, you'll need something with an actual keyboard. If you want to store or edit digital images, you'll need something (netbook or laptop) with a decent-sized hard drive.

I may be wrong but I expect that Skype won't be an option at libraries or Internet cafes.
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Old 02-02-10, 08:30 PM   #12
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I have never brought a laptop on a bicycle tour ... and I only brought a cell phone once by accident. I forgot it was in my handlebar bag.

However, Rowan brings his pocketmail device which works well. I type the day's story into it, and email it to myself. I also type emails to family and friends. When we reach a phone, we send all the emails stored on the pocketmail device. When we reach a real computer ... in a library, at campgrounds, etc. ... I can open the emails I sent to myself and post them on my website.

Otherwise, when I'm on tour, I like spending days more or less out of touch.
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Old 02-03-10, 05:46 AM   #13
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I may be wrong but I expect that Skype won't be an option at libraries or Internet cafes.
Why do you say that? As far as I know it works fine anywhere with an internet connection. It uses port 38287 for incoming connections, but if they block that port you can apparently use 80 and 443 as alternatives (they are the ports used for http and https so they will probably always be open. Check before you count on this, but I think it is correct.

Edit: After posting that I went and checked and there is more info here if anyone is interested.
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Old 02-03-10, 07:56 AM   #14
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I've been bringing laptops while touring for many years. My first trip across USA, I brought a Sharp 286 laptop. I cycled across Canada with an HP Omnibook 800 around Australia and across Russia with small Sony laptops. With advent of smaller netbooks, I've shifted to those. I think it is more a matter of personal preference and I'm one who is willing to carry some extra weight in the laptop department.
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Old 02-04-10, 09:19 AM   #15
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I don't bring one and don't want to. I used to write in a journal every night, and found it to be a tedious, unpleasant chore. I think typing a journal entry every night, worrying about charging batteries, finding a place to upload files, plus the extra weight, all add up to something I'll avoid. When I feel the need for an email fix I'll stop at a library or internet cafe, but unless circumstances are right I usually feel as if I've sacrificed a lot of time for something that wasn't worth it.

My standard practice now is to keep in touch via cell phone and dictate my journal into my mp3 player. I create my online journal at CGOAB after I get home. I listen to the dictations to remember what I want to say. I would bring the cell phone and mp3 player anyway, so I'm not really adding any weight.
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Old 02-04-10, 07:28 PM   #16
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I don't bring one and don't want to. I used to write in a journal every night, and found it to be a tedious, unpleasant chore. I think typing a journal entry every night, worrying about charging batteries, finding a place to upload files, plus the extra weight, all add up to something I'll avoid. When I feel the need for an email fix I'll stop at a library or internet cafe, but unless circumstances are right I usually feel as if I've sacrificed a lot of time for something that wasn't worth it.

My standard practice now is to keep in touch via cell phone and dictate my journal into my mp3 player. I create my online journal at CGOAB after I get home. I listen to the dictations to remember what I want to say. I would bring the cell phone and mp3 player anyway, so I'm not really adding any weight.
Great idea. Since I now have the iPod touch with voice recording this might be the perfect solution to keeping a journal while on tour. If I went this route and tried the tweeting thing to keep family updated on my progress.. it would pretty much keep everyone in the loop, including myself.
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Old 02-04-10, 07:31 PM   #17
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i've take my MacBook on a few tours, no problem

the last tour i carried a paper notebook.


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Old 02-04-10, 08:25 PM   #18
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Given the time frame of your tour and desire to use Skype, by all means get yourself a netbook. This thread ran recently over at CG. Should be relevant.

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/forum...age=1&nested=0
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Old 02-07-10, 02:13 PM   #19
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[iPad] can't connect to my digital camera and doesn't play flash... I was excited about it until they released it. Maybe the next update? It's close but at this point I think I'm going to go with the Nokia Booklet. Seems like a better choice for my needs including battery life.
The iPad will connect to digital cameras via the Camera Connection Kit. Your choice of cable connection or reading off an SD card. The dongles look to be around an ounce in weight.

The Flash thing is of course the great bugaboo but I suspect few people bring a laptop in order to play Farmville while touring! To me it seems like the perfect touring computer: compact, no moving parts (such as a hard drive) to damage with vibration, long battery life, functions as an email tablet and book reader, and can import your photos.

We'll have to see how the actual product stacks up to the hype, but I'm expecting something that will serve this particular niche purpose excellently.
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Old 02-15-10, 07:17 PM   #20
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we brought a small laptop on our one year tour and are VERY glad we did. We used it for writing blog entries, looking at & storing pictures and videos we'd taken during the day, and for entertainment. We'd download TV shows and watch them at night in our tent. We charged the laptop in campsite bathrooms or kitchens, in coffee shops, libraries, the occasional hotel. We created a very cheap "laptop bag" out of duct tape & bubble wrap. It worked great for the whole year and multiple crashes!
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