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Best Mobile Device for Offline Travelers

Common question series continues:
Q: What is your favorite mobile device for road travel use?

A: In doing apps for over 4 years now and the website for over 14 years, I am in a position to run and test many models of devices as I travel in remote places, from phones to tablets. For the device that runs the best in any circumstance and location, the GPS model iPad is the best overall in my opinion. Most people get the WiFi models and do not realize one with true GPS hardware exists. It is labelled as iPad 3G, 4G or Cellular depending on carrier and model. It does cost a little more at each memory level but if you travel, it is worth it. To have a tablet that tells you accurately where you are on a map and without any wifi service is really useful. You don't need a cellular contract no matter what any salesperson tells you. Just use it on wifi as normal for internet access. The biggest difference is that it can know your location at any time and wherever you are like a phone or old GPS hardware unit. And again, without any type of internet service. So combining the offline maps aspect of AllStays apps and many others out there, it is just a more useful device overall. Same pluses apply for the iPhone as far as offline maps go but the iPad has a bigger screen and is better for viewing all those poorly designed official campground websites out there.

With a huge variety, Android has some great devices and not so great devices. I like the Samsung Galaxy Tab and the Google Nexus lines. I would choose one of those on the Android platform. But I will say that every one of those two models that I have had has stopped working within the first year of use. If I was relying on one of those while traveling, I would be lost a bit too often for my comfort. Sometimes they just stop working for a few days, I try everything, even hard resetting them. Then they may randomly and magically work again for a while. Some never work again. Seems to happen more with the Nexus line. That is just my overall experience.

Another reason for my choice is that Android has a fundamental issue in that Google makes all it's money in you being online. They want everyone to be online all the time and are taking away many of the things they used to do offline. If you are offline, they can't serve the ads that most Android apps rely upon. Nor can they collect any data on you. So although AllStays data is always there, the maps are not for your offline use on Android. The few offline third party map options that do exist are not as fast or as good as online Google is in remote areas. Or they are harder to use in having to preselect and download things ahead of time. But they are getting better and I think things will be different in a couple of years.

What about older used iPad models you might ask? I have iPads back to the first gen GPS model and they all still work great for various purposes. Because of the way Apple moves forward in minimum requirements, I would only get a iPad (3) or higher at this point. Because so many companies have iPad 2s, Apple is keeping them relevant as long as they can but it is risky to pick up one of those at this point for anything other than a extra utility device.

Adam | Aug 13, 2014 | Category: Technology

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