Traveling with mobile gear: Follow-up

I recently shared the small mobile kit I planned on using on a short trip. The trip is almost over and it's worth following up with thoughts on how well it worked, or didn't work, in different areas.
Written by James Kendrick, Contributor on

My trip to San Francisco is winding down, and I will be heading back to Houston by the time you see this. The gear in my bag was as small and light as any I've used on a trip, and for the most part it performed admirably.

I recently shared the kit I planned on taking on the trip along with my reasoning for the choices. At the last minute I made one change, choosing to leave the iPad mini at home and bringing the bigger iPad with keyboard/case instead.

It was interesting to note that of the roughly 20 attendees at this conference, seven of them were using iPads with keyboards in place of a laptop.

The collection of gadgets that accompanied me to San Francisco consisted of the Chromebook Pixel, iPad, and the Galaxy Note 2. That's all I brought and I used it all heavily.

The iPad in the ZAGG Profolio+ keyboard case was used each day at the conference I was attending. The days were long but the iPad's battery easily handled it. I only plugged the iPad into the wall in the hotel room at the end of the day.

Bringing the iPad instead of the iPad mini was a good substitution as it easily handled everything I needed in the meeting room each day. I kept up with all my online communications, writing duties, and everything else on the iPad.

The Chromebook Pixel was my main work system at night in the hotel room and worked fine. I did heavy work on the Pixel at night, as I was too busy at the conference during the day. I could have done the night work on the iPad, but the Chromebook Pixel was easier to use so I'm glad I brought it.

Both the iPad and Chromebook Pixel have integrated 4G LTE on the Verizon network. I had full signal strength on this network so it was lightning fast in San Francisco. It was so much faster than the hotel wi-fi at the conference that I used both devices on LTE the entire stay. 

The only device I experienced problems with was the Galaxy Note 2 on the Sprint network. The primary problem was all Sprint's, as there was no 4G LTE network anywhere I went in San Francisco. This caused the phone to stay on the much slower 3G network, but even that didn't work well. I found the phone constantly dropping the 3G network, leaving me waiting to reconnect and continue. It was extremely aggravating.

The other problem I had I believe was due to a bug with the Note 2. Even though the phone immediately connected to the Sprint network when I arrived in San Francisco, it didn't make the location switch for geolocation. Anything I did with geolocation in San Franscisco, e.g. Foursquare, thought I was still in Houston.

I initially blamed Sprint for this failure to update my location but I now think it is a problem with the Note 2. After checking Sprint Note 2 user forums, I found it is a common problem with that phone on that network.

I ended up rebooting the Note 2, which triggered a location change, so it finally recognized I was in San Francisco when it came back up. I suspect I'll have to reboot it when I get back to Houston so that it will figure out I'm no longer in San Francisco.

Overall, I am happy with the gear I brought on the trip and how well it performed. I do wish the Sprint LTE network was active in San Franscisco. The 3G network was awfully slow at times, and the frequent network drops were annoying.

I could have gotten by with just the iPad but I'm glad I also had the Pixel with me. It made some things easier to do and didn't add much weight to the backpack. It was interesting to note that of the roughly 20 attendees at this conference, seven of them were using iPads with keyboards in place of a laptop.

The entire trip was successful and I accomplished everything I intended to do on the trip. I can attest that the Hotel Vitale in San Francisco is a nice hotel, although it doesn't have coffee in the rooms. That's a big negative for me personally, so next trip I'll probably stay somewhere else.

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