Technology on the road

Today’s dilemma – if we’re going to be taking technology on the road with us, what kind?

With our aim to ensure that Charlotte continues her education, and stays in touch with family, friends and school while we’re away, our aim is to take a laptop computer, along with a digital camera and a digital camcorder. Then we can make short films to mail home (or host on the web somewhere), and be able to keep everybody instantly up-to-date with our latest adventures (and see them as well as read about them).

The key question is: What will it weigh? What with my clothes, plus those of the girls, plus 3 sleeping bags, I’m likely to have a rucksack resembling a small mountain, so everything has got to be very, very light. This means that the technology has got to be light too. A conventional laptop weighs in at around 3 – 3.5 kilo’s, which is quite a lot to carry with everything else. A Tablet PC weighs 1.8 kilo’s, which is much better, but we’re likely to need a keyboard for some things, so you add that into the weight, then add a disk drive etc etc. Fortunately, there’s a whole new range of laptops appearing weighing in at under 2 kilo’s, and including wireless support (which means that in some parts of the workd I can sit on the pavement outside of StarBucks/ANOther coffee shop, and use their internet connection for free/cheap. That’ll be really useful when we want to email home pictures (we don’t want our only digital copies of the pictures to be inside our rucksack – imagine if the laptop is stolen and you lose all of your trip photo’s). The even better news is that there’s a new Centrino chip from Intel that might mean the laptops become even smaller, lighter and run on batteries longer. Hopefully they’ll arrive before June, when we’ve got a last chance to pick the technology.

We’re also keen to make sure that we can link into schools projects while we’re away, so that Charlotte can still feel part of the class, so email will come in really useful (I can forecast hours sitting in the Canadian/Californian/Australian equivalent of EasyInternetCafe to keep diaries updated!)

Interestingly, because I work with journalists in my job, there’s some interest in following this story, from a technology and out-of-school education angle. I’ve been offered an irregular column in at least one of the educational journals, so perhaps things might suddenly be interesting…