Tablets have become a staple for business travel, but how can you use them best to complement the existing tech (PC and phone) you already travel with? To find out, I hit the road for a trip to Europe armed with a BlackBerry PlayBook to gain some practical experience.
Regular readers will know that I've already proved that I can do my job armed purely with a BlackBerry. Indeed, I took that to a slightly ludicrous extreme and travelled with nothing but a BlackBerry Torch and some essential toiletries, foregoing even a change of clothes.
The No Luggage experiment clearly proved that you don't always need to travel with a large amount of tech, but it's not something that I'd expect too many people to reproduce. Not only do most of us like to hit the road with more than one change of clothes, the vast majority of us tend to hit the road with multiple pieces of technology. Phones, full-sized laptops, netbooks and tablets are all obvious contenders, before you even start to consider more specialised items like projectors, hotspots, dongles, MP3 players, pedometers . . . On the whole, it's remarkable that more hand luggage doesn't get pulled up for secondary security screening.
So for this latest BlackBerry-sponsored experiment, I wanted to look at how my trusty PlayBook could fit into my working routine while on the road. Having concentrated a lot on domestic travel, this time around I wanted to include an international element, so the PlayBook accompanied me on a work trip to the United Kingdom and Norway.
For my purposes on this trip, I saw the PlayBook operating as part of a trio of gadgets, alongside my BlackBerry Torch and my Asus netbook. I already knew the contexts in which those two would be essential: the Torch for phone calls, killing time on trains and otherwise being efficient in scenarios where I didn't want to grab either of the larger devices; and the netbook for writing lengthy stories and manipulating spreadsheets (which, it turns out, I did quite a lot last week). The PlayBook would need to prove its worth outside those contexts.
I use my PlayBook quite regularly at home, but like many tablet owners, it's often as a secondary screen while watching television or cooking or performing other domestic activities. Even in that context it's very helpful, but the aim of the PlayBook Roaming experiment (as I christened it in my head) is to see how it can complement my working life, especially when that working life is under pressure from being in a different time zone.
Over the course of this week, I'll be posting about my experiences and what I learned. Some of those conclusions are likely to be PlayBook-specific; others will apply equally to rival tablet platforms. I did expect to have to pull out a lot of gear every time I passed through airport security, and that turned out to be the case, but what else did I learn? Tune in tomorrow to find out.
Bonus PlayBook hint for the day: If you're not going to use the device for a long period -- say while sleeping between Singapore and Heathrow -- then power it down fully so you'll have maximum battery life when you arrive and do want it.
Lifehacker Australia editor Angus Kidman realises that for him, a novel trip would be one involving no gadgets whatsoever. His Road Worrier column, looking at technology and organising tips for travellers, appears each week on Lifehacker.