Devices during a long voyage
We left home with the following stack of devices:
- LG G4 Vigor smartphone, about 1.5 years old
- Kobo Android tablet, about 3 years old
- Kindle touch, brand new
- 2 older LG smart phones acting as MP3 players, both about 5 years old
- Dell Vostro V131 laptop, about 6 years old
- Olympus TG 830 compact camera, about 6 years old
So far, only the Kindle stopped working completely (stuck on screen saver) about a month ago. This made M and myself sad as it was useful for us in many ways — we read books and the travel guides, and the battery was holding for weeks without a charge. Amazon support promised to replace it once we’re back in home, but right now we’re stuck without it. We wish we got 2 before leaving.
M complains the tablet is very slow and this is new as it used to respond faster (she claims this for about 4 months now). Y finds this tablet in particular very handy — it has a pretty decent battery life (about 4–5 hours playing movies and games), it is small (7") and has a good display for reading. We bought some educational games for the kids so they can play and learn — addition, multiplication, various language practice games. D, who already has an email account, uses it to write her friends back home, and to the family. A should get his email address as well soon as it might encourage him to write more. We find the tablet handy as the kids can operate it safely, watch movies or play games.
D and A have a pair of old smartphones with some audio books and music on them, they like it very much as they constantly use it during long bus trips and to ‘phase out’ when they need their quiet moments.
The laptop is mostly used by M and Y. The old laptop is a good companion, though it tends to heat to pretty high temperatures, and its battery life is short — about 3–4 hours only, sometimes as much as 1.5 hours. We use the laptop for trip planning, posting here, uploading pictures to Facebook, occasional Netflix, but most importantly, to download the pictures from the camera, sort and organize them. This isn’t the greatest laptop ever, far from it, but the hard drive were changed to SSD before we left so it carries its required functions fairly enough, no too many complaints. We truly hope it would survive the trip to the end.
The camera on the other hand gave us a fright few weeks ago. This is our second waterproof, shockproof Olympus camera. The first one (mju 720) served us well for 6 years until its battery and image quality were not satisfactory anymore. This one also serves us very well and we like it very much — decent image quality, very small and waterproof. We used it underwater before, hence we assumed there shouldn’t be any issue to take some underwater photos on our trip to Koh Kong at the end of our visit to Cambodia. It was all perfectly good, until we arrived later that day to the mangrove forest and the camera refused to turn itself on! Some noises from the lens, black screen, and not taking photos. We came to Trat, Thailand the next day, and let the camera open for the night. Removing the battery for 30 seconds and putting it back seemed to make the camera work again, but then it got stuck again. Panic! A and Y went to Trat’s little shopping center, to the only camera shop in town (a branch of Thailand’s BIG camera). After weighting some alternative cameras, we checked the Olympus again the next day, and it was working just fine. Panic is over! The camera’s still with us, taking pictures, we’ll avoid getting it wet again unfortunately.
We left with a single functioning smartphone which was M’s locked 1 year old phone. Unlocking it was not a big deal over the Internet, then we could use the Chinese SIM card with it. Luckily, this model supports both GSM, CDMA and multiple frequencies, so we didn’t have any issue registering to the networks. The older LGs couldn’t register in Korea or Japan. The main issue with the G4 was it’s internal memory. Even with an SD card, the internal 8GB is simply not enough for Android 5 — after a factory reset, as soon as you open up Play Store and update the predeployed apps, the phone has less then 1GB for extra apps. Few more essential apps and the phone is down to the mimimum (around 400mb, below this it can’t even install updates anymore). Y found himself juggling and dubbing with the apps, memory and data constantly while using it as the main (and only) phone. So while in Japan, Y bought his ‘shiny’ Asus Zenfone GO. Making sure it has more than 8GB and that it supported the home country networks, this phone is now our primary smartphone and Y’s primary device. Ever since the Kindle broke and the kids took over the tablet, this is Y’s reading device as well as map, guide book and all. It has large enough screen to read, 2 SIM card slots and 16GB internal storage. With local SIM card and a data plan, we use the phone to book accommodation, to navigate in cities, to translate to and from English, and when required to tether the laptop or act as a hot spot for the other devices. Unfortunately, though it is supposed to have a decent battery, it usually barely last the day.
Charging is always an issue, for all devices. The old smartphones can hold days which is very good, the tablet and phones are charged every night, as well as the camera. We left with a nice looking global adapter with 2 USB sockets Y bought from Amazon before the trip, 2 North American USB chargers with micro USB cables. The USB sockets gave in after a week, never to work again. Y bought another USB charger in China which stopped working after about a month, and another one in Japan (from Daiso) and another double USB charger in South Korea.
Overall we don’t carry too much electronics, just the bare necessities (in Y’s opinion), and try to be lightweight as much as possible. It would be nice to have another laptop, tablet or a camera but it also means someone has to carry it around, worry about charging it and maintain it. We have no redundancy, so if a device breaks, we need to search for a substitute or live without it, but we feel being lightweight and less worried work better for us.