Can a cheap tablet handle down+uploading photos on a long road trip?
February 8, 2014 9:56 PM   Subscribe

I'm planning a cross country trip to California from Chicago and back and I need some techie help as to whether a tablet could assist me in sightseeing photo preservation.

Right now I'm considering buying a tablet like or similar to the Google Nexus 7. I currently use an Olympus XZ-1 10 megapixel camera, but might also bring a small Canon Powershot for supplemental photos. Even with the Olympus, I can easily take 700MB worth of photos in a day! My plan was to download my camera(s) each night onto the tablet, and then upload them to a photo sharing site like Flickr. My this at all feasible with a cheaper-than-an-iPad-tablet? My budget is limited so the lower the cost the better.

Any other suggestions on how to manage large quantities of photos on a long trip (6 weeks!) are welcome.
posted by agregoli to Technology (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Very easy with an OTG cable and most any USB memory card adapter. With the Nexus 7, you'd need an app to transfer files, but with a Samsung or others with custom additions to Android, the capability is usually native. The OTG cable I linked indicates it's for a Nexus 7, but it will work with just about any recent Android tablet or phone with microUSB port. Technically, you could do this with an even cheaper solution like a used/refurbished Galaxy Nexus phone.
posted by planetesimal at 10:12 PM on February 8, 2014

Well the cheapest solution for storage is to just get a 64GB memory card, but then you'd have to wait until you get where you're going before you sort through them and internet-upload them or whatever.
posted by aubilenon at 10:17 PM on February 8, 2014

If your plan is to upload the photos to flickr on the road, you might find that a lot of wifi hotspots along the way will have painfully slow upload speeds.

Google is taking over the painfully slow free AT&T service at Starbucks. When the Starbucks where I get my morning coffee at switched over I was surprised the upload speed went from <1mbps to around 6 after bursting at around 15mbps. This will still be time consuming to push up that much data. You'll probably want to keep the photos on SD cards and/or the tablet until you get back home from your trip and only upload a few photos a day to flickr so friends and family can see the highlights, but save the real uploads until you get home.
posted by birdherder at 10:37 PM on February 8, 2014

Seconding being aware that upload speeds may be terrible and a timesuck on a once in a lifetime trip. If you're worries about all your stuff getting lost and or stolen, buy some cheap SD cards (old 4-8 GB ones are all but free these days) to back the photos up onto and mail yourself a copy every week.

Incidentally, the Asus Memo (open box ones are $90 at NewEgg) is an acceptable cheap tablet - it's the slightly worse cousin of the original Nexus 7. I wouldn't touch anything cheaper with a 10 foot pole. The ones flooding the market at $60 are not worth the frustration.
posted by Candleman at 2:49 AM on February 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

The cheapest option is just to get a big SD card, I would imagine.
posted by J. Wilson at 6:57 AM on February 9, 2014

I am in indeed frightened of losing all my photos on the trip. Mailing them home seems particularly fraught. I also kind of want to journal on the road on a private blog of some kind, and upload a few photos a day. I didn't think about wi-fi speeds, thanks. I would hate to spend precious hotel down-time trying to get photos to go somewhere.

Any other ideas? Would it be smarter to buy a smaller, lighter laptop for this purpose? Or would I run into the same problems?
posted by agregoli at 7:24 AM on February 9, 2014

Now I'm thinking maybe bringing a separate storage drive to put photos onto? Are there any problems with using this in conjunction with a tablet? Sorry I'm so tech challenged...
posted by agregoli at 7:28 AM on February 9, 2014

I wouldn't suggest mailing your only copy of the photos - keep one set of them on the tablet (and possibly the card in the camera as well). A 16GB Memo with a 32GB microSD card added to it should be sufficient to hold the entire trip's worth of photos. You can upload photos when you have a good connection and mail them when connectivity is poor. You might be able to find cheap small (by today's standards) SD cards at thrift shops if you have one that's technologically savvy near you.

If you're driving and are reasonably certain that your car isn't going to be a target for theft, you can also just keep a backup tucked in the trunk. That way if your travel bag with camera/tablet is stolen you'll still have a backup.
posted by Candleman at 8:41 AM on February 9, 2014

The tablet is not the issue here at all, a Nexus 7 or an iPad Air will do just as well.

The real issue is the amount of data you want to send, whether you will have the network bandwidth to send it, and how much sending that amount of network traffic would cost you. If you are going to have a good enough network connection and can afford to pay what it takes, there will be no problem with using a Nexus 7.

If you are worried about losing your pictures, one thing to know is that flash memory is very very robust. As long as you don't physically lose it, it will almost certainly be ok, whatever mishaps befall it. So if you have multiple copies in different places, like one with you and one back in your hotel room, you have very little to worry about.

Btw if you are considering gadgets, you might want to look into smartphones that major on their camera, like the 41 megapixel Nokia Lumia 1020, which is more like a camera that happens to have a smartphone attached than the other way around.
posted by philipy at 9:49 AM on February 9, 2014

I also kind of want to journal on the road on a private blog of some kind, and upload a few photos a day.... I'm so tech challenged...

For a tech challenged person, the easiest option by far is likely to be getting a laptop with a card-reader built in. Then you can each night stick your SD card in the laptop, copy over what you want, do some blogging and upload a few photos.

If your SD card is big enough for your whole trip you will at all times have your all photos on the card, and another copy on your laptop back at the hotel or in your car, so that should be very safe from any mishaps.

You can also make this kind of thing work with tablets or a Chromebook, but it is likely to need more tech savvy. Getting the data off your card and into the tablet might need a bit of knowhow and some accessories. Blogging might be a pain without buying a bluetooth keyboard as well, and even then tablet blogging apps might be a lot less convenient than what you can do with a proper laptop.

But if you'd really like to own a tablet and won't need a laptop after your trip, you could get the tablet and accessories and with some help from savvy friends or Mefi you could learn to make it all work. Allow plenty of time to get it all sorted before your trip though.
posted by philipy at 10:22 AM on February 9, 2014

I am just going to caution you about using the tablet. On a very recent trip to Mexico, I wanted to travel light so I left my laptop home, and only took my DSLRs and a Samsung Galaxy Tab3 tablet. I used an OTG cord to access the CF card which let me view and copy the photos, and uploaded some of them to the web using my tablet. I even had an app to process RAW files on the tablet. I tested it twice before the trip, and it seemed to work fine, although a bit slow. On the trip, one card was able to read fine on the tablet. Those files are online now. The other card took forever to read, probably because it was mostly full. After about an hour I disconnected it, because it was not reading. I put it back in my camera and it gave me an error message saying it needed to be formatted. All of my photos were gone! When I got home I tried running data recovery programs on it, and even sent it to a lab and the card was truly wiped. The data was written over with blank data. I think there was something that happened with the tablet where it tried to reformat it when it couldn't read for some reason. I know the card was fine before because the photos viewed normally in camera. I was able to find at least one other person online who has had a tablet corrupt their memory card using an OTG cable. (In that case it was a Sony.) I think tablets aren't ready yet to replace computers and they don't quite work the same way. Please be careful if you decide to use a tablet. Mine won't be touching my important files ever again, I was devastated to lose those photos. Maybe if there is a card reader that is read only and doesn't allow the device to write any data to the card you could avoid this.
posted by photoexplorer at 8:16 AM on February 10, 2014

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