Just got back from a family-vacation trip to Zion-Byrce-Grand Canyon. [Flew into Vegas, rented a car, drove to St. George Utah, rented an RV, used a RV Park as a base and did lots of great day trips and hikes in canyon country]. My Q1 UMPC has pretty much become my defacto travel machine, especially for personal vacations. Gone are the days of lugging a full-sized laptop around, even though that’s what 1 in 5 people are now doing.

When traveling I keep my Q1 in a little hard-case I snagged from a co-worker. Makes it easy to toss into a backpack without worrying about it getting crushed.

On the flight: In the air, the Q1 becomes our gaming/reading/entertainment machine. I usually keep a bunch of casual games on my Q1, specifically for travel purposes, and can pretty much get my kids to do anything by ‘bribing’ them with a little bit of game timeJ. (Their all-time favorite is Chuzzle which is incredibly touch-friendly, fun to play, and runs marvelously on 800x480). For comparison, we also had a Nintendo DS with us, but the kids typically ended up fighting over the Q1 – presumably because of the larger screen and richer experience. (Take that Nintendo! J) Additionally, I also keep the Q1 loaded with lots of free Microsoft Reader books for catching up on the classics. (Haven’t taken recorded MCE shows yet, but plan to do so for future trips…). For domestic flights, we get plenty of mileage out of the Q1’s extended battery. For longer trans-atlantic flights, I’ve previously carried a car/DC adapter for when the planes have outlets under the seats – else there’s always the option of the external 8-cell power bank.

On the road: The Q1 is a great car passenger device. In addition to the above entertainment options, we also use it for navigation and maps. Here I use Microsoft Streets and Trips 2007 in conjunction with a BT GPS puck. If the vehicle doesn’t have a built-in navigation system, we use it for directions and maps. Even if the car has a navigation system, passengers still get a kick out of tracking progress on long road trips, looking up the names of cities and geological landmarks as we drive by, and generally being able to play with a live map in ways the in-car system doesn’t allow. Because S&T deduces car speed from the GPS signal, the UMPC also becomes great for backseat driving, should you, uhm, choose to want to, say, nag your spouse/driver about staying within the speed limit etc... J. For long road trips, a cheap $20 inverter becomes a great source of worry-free power for the UMPC.

At the destination: Almost everyplace (and apparently most RV parks) now has Wi-Fi (but bandwidth usually sucks) so the UMPC lets you connect to the local community, plan daily outings, and discover local information easily. Personally, I now no longer do much up-front day-to-day vacation planning. Everything is pretty much discoverable online when you get there (and if not, you can always ask a local!). At the end of the day, you can do personal email and catch up with news, etc. I usually keep a foldable USB keyboard stowed somewhere in my luggage for rare occasions that require typing out long emails but mostly never end up using it. (Now if only I could figure out a way to print all the info that I find… J)

Photo/Video Management: Several years ago, I lost my digital camera while vacationing in San Diego and vowed from that point on to always have a laptop for backing up photos. The UMPC works great in this department. Both my Camera and my Q1 natively support CompactFlash cards. At the end of each day, I simply pop the CF card into my Q1 and copy over the pictures & videos. I have Microsoft Digital Suite 2006 (unfortunately now discontinued) installed on my Q1 – which lets me edit, touch-up, and tag the photos right away (there’s never a better time to do this than right away, as I’ve learnt through experience J). I can then do slideshows for the family and/or pass around the Q1 to let everyone view the pics. I can also process the digital movies from my camera using Windows Movie Maker.

Back home: I use SyncToy to conveniently upload all the newly acquired digital content to my home media/backup machine. (If you struggle with maintaining data across your home network, definitely give SyncToy a spin )

Overall, it’s hard for me to imagine traveling without a UMPC from this point on - the UMPC really spoils you with its portability, convenience, and versatility. Take one on your next vacation. You won’t be disappointed…

 

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