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Best solution for reading/film entertainment while touring

Old 01-13-19, 04:07 AM
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philip041
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Best solution for reading/film entertainment while touring

Hi, I'm planning a long tour (6 months) and wondering what advice there is on getting a tablet/ipad and/or kindle? A few basic requirements:
  • I want to be able read and have reluctantly conceded paperbacks aren't a practical option
  • Skype(or equivalent) with family and friends
  • Watch film on Netflix - I know this might sound an excessive luxury but I am learning French and find watching some tv in French each day is a good way to keep it up
  • Am interested also in an audible account
I'll be taking my iphone with me, not at all interested in taking a laptop. The ipad seems on the edge of being over the top but wonder if anyone has recommendations on whether to get a kindle and an ipad or maybe a tablet can do everything and still be durable enough for constant daily use?

Thanks
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Old 01-13-19, 06:01 AM
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Originally Posted by philip041 View Post
Hi, I'm planning a long tour (6 months) and wondering what advice there is on getting a tablet/ipad and/or kindle? A few basic requirements:
  • I want to be able read and have reluctantly conceded paperbacks aren't a practical option
  • Skype(or equivalent) with family and friends
  • Watch film on Netflix - I know this might sound an excessive luxury but I am learning French and find watching some tv in French each day is a good way to keep it up
  • Am interested also in an audible account

I'll be taking my iphone with me, not at all interested in taking a laptop. The ipad seems on the edge of being over the top but wonder if anyone has recommendations on whether to get a kindle and an ipad or maybe a tablet can do everything and still be durable enough for constant daily use?


Thanks
Ipad maybe "over the top" but it is in the lead, and offers all of what you ask for -- albeit with a price to match. Can't tell if you're a fanboy, but since you asked the question maybe not?


Anyway, there are a lot of tablets that fill the # 2 and below slot, but pros and cons always apply. At the top of the Android ladder, and for your purposes, I recommend the following:


Galaxy Tab S4 -- Best in Class OLED HDR display. Visuals are as good as it gets.

8mp front facing camera

Included S-pen


On the budget side:


Huawei Matebook Which according to CES should be arriving soon.
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Old 01-13-19, 06:37 AM
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Get an iPad mini. I used one a few times whilst touring. Compact and the battery lasts a long time compared with larger tablets.
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Old 01-13-19, 06:46 AM
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A Kindle is cheap, efficient (battery lasts a month between recharges) and arguably better reading device. I'd carry one.

Now... You can watch movies and do Skype or FaceTime with your phone. The question is whether you need another computer (phone, phablet, tablet, laptop). Keep in mind that larger screens are very power hungry - unless you have access to the grid on a very regular basis, this becomes problematic. I'd bring a backup phone. Tablet/computer really depend on what you need. If you can manage without, good for you.

Instead of movies, you may want to consider podcasts. You can easily store hundreds of hours of audio on your phone. Netflix would require connectivity, which may not be readily available.

FWIW, we (my wife and i) usually travel with 3 smartphones, 2 Kindles, 1 tablet and one laptop. The tablet and laptop are essential because we must sometimes work under way. Never used for entertainment or touring purposes (ex. route planning). Charging these devices is a hassle

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Old 01-13-19, 07:17 AM
  #5  
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The very first thing I’d look at would be my energy needs and recharging options. If you’re staying in hotels etc then your energy availability will be very different to if you’re camping.

For example, will your iphone be used for navigation? In that case, I’d be placing that in an “energy sensitive” category and using it accordingly. In other words, if I’m holed up in my tent early because of poor weather I’m not going to be using it for watching movies in case I’ve no juice the next day.


Another thing I’d look at is redundancy. If my reading/watching/listening device runs out of juice then all three are out. I prefer to have a reading device separate to a music device.


Finally, how much of this will be dependant on internet access? Not much point in having a high spec tablet for watching Netflix if there is no data/wifi.


I use a Kindle for reading. I think it’s one of the greatest additions to my gear. As well as books, I can send all kinds of documents/PDF files to it relevant to my tour. So, for example, I can send maps (really sections of maps), notes etc. to a device that will work independent of any cloud/data/wifi issues. Due to the lighting of the kindle, it is far superior fro reading than any phone or tablet I have tried. Battery life is very good too.


I have an android phone that gets used as a phone mainly. I generally have some interesting podcasts on it for longer evenings. It’s sometimes used as a camera too. It is an “emergency device” so is used accordingly.


For years I have carried an old android tablet that has OSMand maps downloaded as a way of plotting routes on the fly - completely offline.. I also use that for (trying) to keep a journal of the trip with a fold out bluetooth keyboard. Netflix will work on it, but the only way I’d use it would be to download the episodes in advance. It would never have the memory capacity for a 6 month tour.


Out of habit I have always carried my ipod classic. However, I hardly ever use it. I don’t use it when cycling (except for some reason in heavy rain) and hardly ever use it in camp.


I camp almost exclusively and use a dynohub for charging. I have no issues with keeping these devices charged along with a Wahoo Elemnt.


I am not too familiar with it, but I believe a Kindle fire is a combination of a traditional kindle and an (android) tablet. That might be an all-in-one option for you.
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Old 01-13-19, 08:24 AM
  #6  
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Do you belong to your local library? Do they allow you to download books?

My local library (San Francisco Public LIbrary) has thousands of books available for download for free. I can download to my device (an iPad for me) from anywhere in the world for free.
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Old 01-13-19, 08:55 AM
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many years ago I began looking at the idea of tablets as a good compromise of the various factors you bring up, and two years ago before a two month trip, I ended up getting a smaller tablet that could fit into my handlebar bag (a regular sized ortlieb) with the protective flip case attached.
The screen size is a bit under 8 inches, and with the case, its about 8.5x5.5

I looked at various tablets, and the priorities were size and reasonable functionality. I went with a very moderately priced Samsung android model, around 200 bucks, as I was concerned about worst case scenarios-theft-and also didnt want to spend that much anyway and in the end, this level of product was both well constructed and performed well enough--it would have been nicer to have a faster processor for working on photos, but I had no interest to spend 800 bucks on a tablet and worry about being held up at gunpoint.

like all things in life doo dads wise, its a compromise, and this size tablet is fine for watching stuff, using a maps app and built in gps if you want to check where you are (which I did on occasion) when paper maps were confusing, or to situate myself in a city or whatever that was complex.
It has a slot for micro sd cards for extra storage, but I used this to transfer photos from the sd/micro sd adapter in my camera at the end of each day, then would work on my days photos and write up my trip journal. Works ok, but again, limitations on not having a keyboard, although portable keyboards are available.
I was travelling with access to plugs in cheap hotels, so charging wasnt an issue, and I wasnt using it during the day, so worked out fine even without a battery bank thing.

Being able to fit in my hbag was important, and I am still using this tablet daily two years on and it is well built enough that its in great shape. Bonus for me being android is that I use an android phone, so didnt have to learn how to use it. I have been a life long mac user, but find android to be intuitive and easy to use, although you would probably find a ipad easier and a no brainer to use, not to mention easier interactions between ipad and mac computers if you use them.

re kindle--yes, it makes sense that they are a better reader, great battery life. I personally know that on bike trips I dont usually have the energy to read much, especially if working on photos and writing a journal, but it does make sense that they are a great option, and one you may consider also if this is important to you. It is however, more weight, phone, tablet, kindle....adds up...but the priority is for you to make. And anyway, you perhaps have a tent that weighs a few lbs less than the tents I carry on bike trips, so it can be a moot point anyway weight wise.

in the end, I found a tablet to work just as I thought it would and I was very glad I got it and used it on my last three trips.
Its simply a tool and I found the bonus of entertainment, help with OSM mapping offline, browsing the web for route planning etc, and a small compact photo editing and writing and skyping or whatever tool, to be a great compromise of size, weight and functionality.
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Old 01-13-19, 10:32 AM
  #8  
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Well, not exactly answering your question but...

1. I have never found the time to read on a bike tour. There is so much to do besides riding the bike if you camp. If you hit the Motel, there will be a TV. I usually keep one magazine stashed in my panniers for emergency reading, but it is usually just dead weight.

2. One of the major reasons I hit the road for weeks or months at a time is to GET AWAY from all those connections. The last thing I want to do is Skype with anyone. I like to hear my wife's voice once a day, so a flip-phone covers that.

3. I wear cycling shoes I can walk in. So if I have time on my hands, I pack some small binoculars and take a walk/hike to see the things I went to all the trouble to BIKE to see. The whole reason I tour is to discover what is OUT THERE, not what I could read at home or who I could spend time with at home.

I only bothered to post this because maybe, perhaps, you are missing the point of having an ADVENTURE in the first place. Since I don't know you I can't judge you so please don't take offense. In the modern era where everyone is in constant contact, many never know the feeling of being "free" from those constraints. There is a lot to be said for getting "lost" in one's thoughts as well. You might want to try this. It may be your only chance! Trust me. It is addictive.

Ever see someone let a dog off the leash in a big field? The dog runs as fast as he can over there, then turns for no reason and runs over to another spot, then somewhere else, without any rhyme or reason for the direction he is heading. Your MIND will do the same thing if you take it off the leash. Don't miss a big opportunity to experience the feeling of that dog off the leash. It is awesome.
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Old 01-13-19, 01:48 PM
  #9  
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oh, and for devices that have the slot for adding additional memory micro sd or whatever, its astounding the capacity that is available now for reasonable prices (Im thinking of storing movies etc)
quick searches show 64 and 128 gb cards at prices that may well be worth it, as thats a heck of a lot of storage space (as far as I know, only android devices have this ability to add on yourself storage space).

if you do any video editing however, the gigs will pile up pretty quickly, so just be realistic about this, as well as photos, depending on your camera output and if shooting a lot is to be done, as well as raw vs jpeg and file sizes, and editing programs take up a fair amount of space.
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Old 01-13-19, 02:01 PM
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I tend to be a bit of a techie who ends up bringing one of each on my long bike trips (laptop, kindle fire, kindle reader, phone...) but I also recognize where each one is best and how I use it. Here are some of the pros and cons I've found:

1) Kindle paper white device. Great if my primary purpose is reading. One of the things I really like is it has built-in GSM network that I can use to download books - even sometimes way far away from towns. More than once, on trips through Africa and South America, I was in my tent not in a town but able to download the next book to read. I also like the "email to" feature where I can send documents in advance that I might otherwise look up later. It is lightweight even compared to a book and long battery life is also nice.

The downsides are what it doesn't do. Some books like Lonely Planet guides have maps that aren't easy to view - others are ok, but definitely best with more text. It also isn't something I typically use when underway.

2) Laptop. This is the other end of the spectrum for me. I like keeping up a blog and like some of the photo processing software on the laptop. I'll bring an extra USB key and boot into linux and do some random programming at times. On my South America trip I worked on writing text for a book. Some of these things I might be able to do parts of on a tablet, though I like having a separate keyboard/screen as well as some of the software.

3) Phone. This tends to be more of my "while underway" device. The GPS is useful, even with offline maps like MAPS.ME. At times when I've traveled with my brother we've used text messages for quick syncs since we don't always bicycle in lockstep. I almost never use it for calling since I don't necessarily know people in the countries I visit and don't get into habit of calling back to the US. I did use it once or twice for this purpose, e.g. in Bolivia when one of my investment accounts was sending messages about not my ground mail bouncing back in the US - so I found a local access number to dial into their network. However, it is rare to use it as a phone phone.

4) Kindle Fire tablet. Not sure I really need this as functions overlap #1/#2/#3 above - though I've had it along anyways. This would be a reasonable platform for viewing videos - at least if you have the wifi bandwidth where you are at. It is also at least as good as he Kindle Paperwhite in viewing books and like the phone can do a good job of podcasts. It is better for typing on than the phone and less than the laptop.

I don't really need to bring one of each - so on a six month trip if I needed to cut down it would depend a bit where I was going - and then here is how I would prioritize it for me:
* In a lot of the world, I've found internet cafes to be less prevalent than 20 years ago, particularly outside the touristy areas. There are more phone networks and more people have internet at home. There is also more wifi. As a result I still like that laptop as a fairly powerful and versatile platform for whatever comes up. So I'd probably still bias towards bringing that with me. However, if I didn't then I would bring a tablet instead.
* A phone is fairly expendable for me - particularly if I'm not planning on sending text messages. So that is more optional than some other pieces.
* The Kindle Paperwhite and Kindle Fire overlap functionality at least if I also have a laptop - so depending on whether I brought a laptop I might bias towards the Paperwhite.

So if I were cutting down and only bringing three items, it would likely be: (laptop + paperwhite + phone) or it would be (laptop + paperwhite + fire)
If I were only bringing two items it would likely be: (laptop + paperwhite) or (laptop + phone)
If I wasn't bringing a laptop, it would be: (fire+phone) or (fire +paperwhite)
If it had to be just one item, it would be either my fire or my laptop.
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Old 01-13-19, 03:05 PM
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Old fashioned sharing

I Bought used paperbacks, then, when I finished them, gave them away.. One of them was an Agatha Christie novel ,
I gave to the Doorman at the Warsaw Poland, Hilton .. in 1991..

This was not long after the Iron Curtain became History.





...

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Old 01-14-19, 06:26 AM
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Like many others, I recommend

the Kindle Paperwhite and your phone. I see the Paperwhite as a stack of books, and it has served me well on extended canoe trips and bike tours. The phone can do everything else you want it to do (a lot of which I would have no interest in, but you don't need for me to tell you what your trip should be like). From personal experience, a Kindle Fire is a hobbled tablet (hobbled because it has a proprietary os that doesn't work as well as Android) that is not as good for reading as a Paperwhite and doesn't exactly sip the battery. An iPad is mostly a larger iPhone (which you may decide you need, I don't know).
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Old 01-14-19, 07:38 AM
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I use a 7 inch LG GPad Tablet mounted on my handlebar. I run the "Urban Biker" app & an MP3 player in dual or split screen mode. When I'm on a quiet road, I listen to my "Coffee Break French" lessons. If you haven't checked out Coffee Break French yet give it a look at: https://coffeebreakacademy.com/ . There are printed notes, but it lends itself well to listening in the car or on the bike. I also sometimes listen to "TSF Jazz" from Paris, and as you mentioned French TV, checkout "Télématin" on France 2. It's sort of like the "Today" show. You can get it "En Replay" as a Podcast at: https://www.france.tv/france-2/telematin/.
Je vous souhaite bonne chance avec vos études français !

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Old 01-14-19, 09:03 AM
  #14  
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Best solution for reading/film entertainment while touring
Originally Posted by philip041 View Post
Hi, I'm planning a long tour (6 months) and wondering what advice there is on getting a tablet/ipad and/or kindle? A few basic requirements:
  1. I want to be able read and have reluctantly conceded paperbacks aren't a practical option...
Originally Posted by JoeyBike View Post
Well, not exactly answering your question but...

1. I have never found the time to read on a bike tour. There is so much to do besides riding the bike if you camp. If you hit the Motel, there will be a TV. I usually keep one magazine stashed in my panniers for emergency reading, but it is usually just dead weight.

2. One of the major reasons I hit the road for weeks or months at a time is to GET AWAY from all those connections. The last thing I want to do is Skype with anyone. I like to hear my wife's voice once a day, so a flip-phone covers that.
Back in 1977 on a cross-country bike ride, paperback books were the only option. My most interesting read was the novel,“The Monkey Wrench Gang,” about eco-sabotage in the very region in Arizona though which we were riding, with spot-on descriptions and comments.

So I can’t suggest methods, but for content, consider reading about your specific current locality as the best way to use your time to savor the experience.
.
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Old 01-14-19, 09:35 AM
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I almost always carry a paperback. They weigh less than a tablet and don't need to be charged. Once you're done with one, give it away and get a new one. Or trade it.

Everything else, smartphone. I've begun putting a few movies on it (5-6 movies for a 2-month tour). I'll only watch one (usually only half of one) when I have plenty of access to electricity, I'm not in a motel (TV) or hostel (people), I've gotten tired of reading my book, and I'm caught up in my journal, which is not often. As infrequently as I use it to watch movies, the small screen doesn't bother me as much as carrying an extra thing all summer would.

If you're dead-set on a tablet, I'm not helpful, but someone had to champion books.
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Old 01-14-19, 10:29 AM
  #16  
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I would second the iPad mini. I had a full-sized iPad that I carried on a couple of trips. It was overkill, but useful. Great reading maps, and a long battery for capturing the daily GPS tracks, but a space hog. When I had to replace it, I got the mini, and it's been a much better touring companion. Fits easily in my handlebar bag. Still has decent battery life. I got it with the cellular chip because even when I'm not paying for extra cell service (which I usually do not -- although I'm more likely to when touring), I can download and save maps and use the GPS to navigate. Also, on my last couple of trips, I decided to spring for a data plan with a service other than my cell phone provider. The result was that I doubled the chances of being in contact with the outside world even when in the middle of nowhere. All respect to the people who want to "get away from it all," I like to stay in touch. My wife, who does not accompany me an most trips, prefers that I do as well. I sleep in a hammock and have a case with a flip cover. Flip the cover to the back, run some string through there and over my ridge line, and the iPad hangs right in front of my face. Great for obsessively tracking a nasty thunderstorm that I'm failing to sleep through. Or watching Netflix.

But, for strictly reading, a Kindle is cheaper, lighter, and easier on the eyes. There are cellular versions with the ability to have some internet/navigation/communication functions, but you won't be watching movies on it. I am as likely to read comics as books, so a color screen is essential, otherwise I'd be tempted to go that route.

And, of course, your phone can do all of that. There are trips where I don't plan on having enough downtime to make use of the iPad, and I just bring my phone. I have an Android phone, so this may not be an option for you, but I have done trips where I carry my Daydream View: https://store.google.com/us/product/..._view?hl=en-US I don't know that the weight is that much different from an iPad mini, but it's easy to toss into a pannier. It's a fun way to get a big screen experience out of a phone, although resolution suffers. Also, last I checked, you could watch Netflix content using the Daydream, but you didn't have the same downloading options that are available for other devices. If I think I'm going to want to lie in my hammock and watch a video, Google Play seems to be the main service that lets me save videos locally for off-line viewing, although if you have video files in a standard, copyright-free, video format, there are other options.
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Old 01-14-19, 11:17 AM
  #17  
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And ... I brought a Pocket Mandolin , to sit in on Pub Music Sessions .. this is what one looks like compared to a regular mandolin ..
Found, image search, not mine..





( a Tin whistle would be even lighter )




....

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Old 01-14-19, 02:57 PM
  #18  
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Originally Posted by JoeyBike View Post
Well, not exactly answering your question but...

1. I have never found the time to read on a bike tour. There is so much to do besides riding the bike if you camp. If you hit the Motel, there will be a TV. I usually keep one magazine stashed in my panniers for emergency reading, but it is usually just dead weight.

2. One of the major reasons I hit the road for weeks or months at a time is to GET AWAY from all those connections. The last thing I want to do is Skype with anyone. I like to hear my wife's voice once a day, so a flip-phone covers that.

3. I wear cycling shoes I can walk in. So if I have time on my hands, I pack some small binoculars and take a walk/hike to see the things I went to all the trouble to BIKE to see. The whole reason I tour is to discover what is OUT THERE, not what I could read at home or who I could spend time with at home.

I only bothered to post this because maybe, perhaps, you are missing the point of having an ADVENTURE in the first place. Since I don't know you I can't judge you so please don't take offense. In the modern era where everyone is in constant contact, many never know the feeling of being "free" from those constraints. There is a lot to be said for getting "lost" in one's thoughts as well. You might want to try this. It may be your only chance! Trust me. It is addictive.

Ever see someone let a dog off the leash in a big field? The dog runs as fast as he can over there, then turns for no reason and runs over to another spot, then somewhere else, without any rhyme or reason for the direction he is heading. Your MIND will do the same thing if you take it off the leash. Don't miss a big opportunity to experience the feeling of that dog off the leash. It is awesome.
Haha, point taken.. I'm afraid I am a little too old (31) for that. I genuinely want to stay in touch with my family every day and stay connected. Same goes for reading. Doesn't mean I can't enjoy the mountain views during the day though!

Thanks all for the great advice, was pleasantly surprised by all the ideas. I also spoke to a couple of people and, echoing what has already been said, I learnt:
  • Kindle paperwhite (more expensive backlit option) is worth the money, especially in a tent at night
  • Laptop not worth the weight (or potential cost if stolen) - I wasn't planning on taking one though
  • iPad bit of a luxury dependent on weight and money situation
I think I'm going to plump for a Kindle paperwhite and fork out for an iPad 128gb wifi only (just tether off a little wifi dongle thing I have) with the justification I'll use it in my next job. A couple of people suggested that a phone is enough so I tried watching netflix on it last night - it worked fine for normal stuff, but when i put french subtitles on it was pretty uncomfortable trying to read the tiny font - tablet would realistically be the only option for that.

Also acknowledge that I'm usually shattered at the end of each day but would hate to think I'd go 6 months without enjoying a good book..
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Old 01-14-19, 03:10 PM
  #19  
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Originally Posted by hfbill View Post
I use a 7 inch LG GPad Tablet mounted on my handlebar. I run the "Urban Biker" app & an MP3 player in dual or split screen mode. When I'm on a quiet road, I listen to my "Coffee Break French" lessons. If you haven't checked out Coffee Break French yet give it a look at: https://coffeebreakacademy.com/ . There are printed notes, but it lends itself well to listening in the car or on the bike. I also sometimes listen to "TSF Jazz" from Paris, and as you mentioned French TV, checkout "Télématin" on France 2. It's sort of like the "Today" show. You can get it "En Replay" as a Podcast at: https://www.france.tv/france-2/telematin/.
Je vous souhaite bonne chance avec vos études français !
Merci, je vais regarder le telematin, mais le melange d'accents du coffebreak etait the worst!
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Old 01-14-19, 03:58 PM
  #20  
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The Kindle black and white readers are in a different class than other tablets because

1) Easier to read in daylight
2) Much much longer battery life
3) Not good for much other than reading.
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Old 01-20-19, 07:16 AM
  #21  
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by the way, where are you thinking of going and when?
I kind of assumed France etc because of the "learning French" comments.
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Old 01-20-19, 12:06 PM
  #22  
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You have an iphone. Logic says ipad - too powerful for your needs, but unbeatable value otherwise as it gives you heaps of room to expand. Also, get the big one, more flexible than the baby. Well worth the extra money, not the least because you can get your phone calls/facetime calls on it.

The kindle, by the way, is the best of he readers, but even the most ardent fans will admit it is only passable at everything else. Then there's Strava, which, on the iphone/ ipad, is magic.
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Old 01-20-19, 12:24 PM
  #23  
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I can only think of three days of all of my touring where I was bored enough to want something like reading material to kill time. One of those days my touring partner was ill and needed a day of rest, and two days where the winds were so strong that I stayed put instead of working really hard to accomplish almost nothing. On those occasions I had some PDF files on my tablet that I could read but I also found other things to do.

I carried a 7 inch Android tablet on a couple tours, rarely used it and I did not have a smartphone on those tours. After getting an Android 5.5 inch smartphone, I quit carrying the tablet. I am old enough that my eyes do not focus at a close screen, I bought some very high power reading glasses (2.5 or 3.0) at Dollar Tree to allow me to focus on a small phone screen that was close to my eyes quite easily.

Raybo above mentioned downloading books from a library. My sister has a tablet that she downloads books onto from her local library, maybe it is a Kindle? She also has an Ipad, but uses the smaller tablet for books because battery life is much better. Thus, you may need to factor in battery life to your thinking.
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Old 01-20-19, 02:27 PM
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A kindle is a device too many. Remember the iPad can work almost as a large iphone, and that includes calls, google maps on a scale you can read, facetime, skype etc. Add some noise cancelling headphones, and you’re set.
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Old 01-21-19, 09:16 AM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by mev View Post

1) Kindle paper white device. Great if my primary purpose is reading. One of the things I really like is it has built-in GSM network that I can use to download books - even sometimes way far away from towns.
Excuse my tech ignorance, but what is a GSM network? I bought a paper white device in 2017 because I got tired of burning batteries using my headlamp to read paper books at night. I absolutely love the thing. As you mentioned, the battery lasts a long time, even with the backlighting at full. The battery also charges very quickly. About the only thing I don't like about it is that you cannot use a book's pages to help start a campfire.

The only time I had to download a book on the road was when I was camping near a small town that had a restaurant offering free WiFi. I had just finished my book the night before and figured I'd take advantage and buy another one. It downloaded super fast.
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