Huh?  The iPad as a Mod­ern Sur­vival Device?  Real­ly?  Yup.  Let me explain a lit­tle.  First, I’m in the Inter­net busi­ness.  Not going to get into a lot of that now, but I want to give you some per­spec­tive on why I say that.  Sec­ond, I am a gad­get guy.  I sup­pose that is typ­i­cal.  If there is a gad­get out there, I need to play with it, at least once.  Suf­fice it to say, I got my hands on an iPad.

Now, if you are like me, and some of you may be, and some of you may not.  But, I work pri­mar­i­ly from rough­ly 7:30 a.m. — about 6:00 / 7:00 p.m. Mon­day — Fri­day.  Some days it varies a lit­tle bit.  How­ev­er, at the end of the day my brain is fried.  I work from home, so my com­mute is 10 steps to the home office.  Not much time for myself when I start to work right away.  At the end of the day (min­i­mum of three days a week) I go to the gym, and the oth­er two or three days, I do a short work­out at home.  By the end of the day I am usu­al­ly a lit­tle stir crazy or exhaust­ed.  Make a lit­tle din­ner, and it is almost time for bed.  Sub­ur­ban lifestyle at it’s best.  Of course I leave out some time I make for friends and fam­i­ly, which can take up at least a day on a week­end, etc.

With this type of lifestyle, I find it hard to learn new skills or res­ur­rect old skills that I think are impor­tant to a sur­vival­ist lifestyle.  And, like many sub­ur­ban­ites, I find it hard to just up and leave my job, home, and lifestyle to move to the coun­try, and fur­ther iso­late myself from my friends and fam­i­ly to home­stead and become a more self reliant indi­vid­ual.  Now, I do need to be near an air­port, and I am today; but if I were to move away, it would fur­ther com­pli­cate the lifestyle I have by length­en­ing my com­mute back and forth.  I could do it.  I just choose not to at this time.  Good deci­sion or poor one, it is the one I make at this moment.

So,with that said, I have been look­ing for a way to make portable, with­out too much trou­ble books, text, and instruc­tion that I have found, pur­chased, or cre­at­ed for my own use in a sur­vival sit­u­a­tion.  Being a self pro­claimed geek, I am think­ing about work­ing on cre­at­ing my own ebook (pri­mar­i­ly for myself) with all the sec­tions I think I need, but am afraid it would be 1,000+ pages long by the time it were com­plet­ed.  I set out to look for a device that makes sense.  I looked at net­books, Ama­zon Kin­dle, and the iPad.

What fol­lows is a per­son­al account what I liked and dis­liked about each device, a short review of the iPad, and why I chose it as my device of choice.  If you have looked at or cho­sen any of the devices men­tioned above, you already have your own rea­sons for doing so.  I have mine, so please feel free to com­ment as all are the right rea­sons and none are wrong as they are all per­son­al.

That said, the first device I pur­chased was an ASUS 11″ eee PC net­book.  This was actu­al­ly a smart buy, because it gets quite a bit of use.  First, it is a full PC net­book with Win­dows XP.  It has a 160GB Hard Disk so I could store a lot of ‘stuff’ on it.  It is 3 pounds in weight not includ­ing the plug and pow­er sup­ply, which is neg­li­gi­ble.  New it had “up to” an 11 hour bat­tery life.  The bat­tery life is more like five or six hours, but is more than accept­able.  That said, when I got it, I loaded it up with a lot of my PDFs that have been down­loaded from online.  Many of the books are on sur­vival, self suf­fi­cien­cy, first aid, etc.  I want­ed to have them when I was trav­el­ing on busi­ness or to put the net­book in my BOB.  I also have MS Office on it and can con­duct busi­ness like using a reg­u­lar PC or note­book.  It was a good choice, and have had it for over a year now.  I like it with one excep­tion; the key­board­’s “Enter” key is start­ing to stick.  That con­cerns me.  I do not want to buy a new net­book to con­duct busi­ness with.  This one has been good to me so far, and I am hop­ing to even­tu­al­ly get the key fixed inex­pen­sive­ly if I can.

The sec­ond device I pur­chased, and sub­se­quent­ly acci­den­tal­ly left on a plane in the seat pock­et in front of me, was a used Ama­zon Kin­dle that I pur­chased from a col­lege stu­dent off of Craigslist.  I rec­om­mend them if you are sim­ply buy­ing one to read nov­els or any oth­er book with­out images or detailed pho­tos.  The screen is great for Ama­zon Kin­dle Books.  It is that new liq­uid paper/ink tech­nol­o­gy.  Can be used out in direct sun­light with­out glare or loss of text qual­i­ty, and is ridicu­lous­ly light and very portable.  I trans­ferred many PDFs onto it for stor­age and review, also for trav­el and to be a sur­vival device if nec­es­sary for “just in time infor­ma­tion.”  How­ev­er, books with columns made it very dif­fi­cult to read the text.  The zoom fea­ture was tough to use as well.  So, unless they were books direct­ly down­loaded from Ama­zon’s Kin­dle store, it could be a tough read, even though they do have a con­ver­sion tool that you can use to con­vert your PDF or oth­er doc to their for­mat.  It is also a pay for ser­vice.  I miss my Kin­dle because it was so light, adding it to my back­pack was like adding a feath­er to an anvil.  I would still be using it if I did not lose it.  The jerk who found it, also reg­is­tered it and start­ed using it, as the kin­dle itself was yanked from my account.  So much for hon­esty and turn­ing in an expen­sive piece of elec­tron­ics.  I once turned in a wal­let with close to 1,000 dol­lars in it because I knew that mon­ey could be crit­i­cal to pay­ing some­ones bills… I guess hon­esty and integri­ty are over rat­ed today.  I digress.  I did have a lot of doc­u­ments as well as books from Ama­zon on there, both sur­vival relat­ed as well as fic­tion and non fic­tion.  Need­less to say, I was pissed off at myself and bummed.  I like to read when I have the time, and some­times the only time I have is when I am trav­el­ing on the plane to my work des­ti­na­tion.

The Kin­dle lead me to the iPad, how­ev­er.  I waf­fled, I thought about it, I tried look­ing on Craigslist (I do not rec­om­mend you buy one off of craigslist, as most of the peo­ple I con­tact­ed were flaky at best get­ting back to me and arrang­ing to see it and buy it, go direct­ly to best buy or the Apple store prefer­ably for the best cus­tomer expe­ri­ence), for one, I emailed about them, I played with them at Best Buy, and the Apple Store, etc.  It is an expen­sive device.  I set­tled on the 32GB 3G/WiFi ver­sion based on the require­ments I have for video, audio, and text.  I have to give it to Apple.  They under­stand the cus­tomer expe­ri­ence, and the device is top notch for some­one that is not a pow­er user like me.  It has incred­i­ble advan­tages over the ASUS and the Kin­dle, but also has sev­er­al short com­ings that I will illus­trate for you.  How­ev­er, to me the ben­e­fits seri­ous­ly out­weigh the cons.

First, the iPad is light, feels sol­id in your hand, and is a great touch screen expe­ri­ence. I imme­di­ate­ly down­loaded the Kin­dle appli­ca­tion, and start­ed thumb­ing through sev­er­al of my books.  The first thing I noticed that was head and shoul­ders above the Kin­dle itself; col­or pic­tures.  Full detailed images, illus­tra­tions, col­or, etc.  What a won­der­ful improve­ment over the 16 shades of gray the Kin­dle offered.  Now I can see exact­ly what the authors meant and were try­ing to explain in their pic­tures when I was read­ing their con­tent.  Boom!  I am sold.

The sec­ond thing I did was get on the iPad’s App Store and looked for apps that made sense for me to pos­si­bly use in a sur­vival sit­u­a­tion.  Here is what I down­loaded as an appli­ca­tion:

  • FM-21 0 US Army Sur­vival Man­u­al
  • Hik­er Pro — Has many hik­ing trails in the US by region
  • Emer­gency Radio — Just like your police scan­ner with many fre­quen­cies already there so you choose your town and region
  • SAS Sur­vival Man­u­al app
  • Navy Seal Fit­ness App. — Time to get in shape and all that
  • State Lines — An app that out­lines at a high lev­el state laws for things such as con­cealed car­ry, etc.
  • Weath­er Chan­nel App
  • An Atlas App
  • Topo­Point — which is topo­graph­ic maps that you can down­load based on your search and make local to the iPad so that you always have them.  Uses your GPS fea­ture on the iPad as well.
  • GoodRead­er — this is an invalu­able app, as it let me trans­fer my PDF doc­u­ment to the iPad for stor­age and review.  With­out it, I would not be able to car­ry around 48 PDFs that include what I feel is 90% of the sur­vival infor­ma­tion I need.  I will cre­ate a sep­a­rate post about those fol­low­ing this one.

The iPad boasts an up to nine (9) hour bat­tery life.  Keep in mind that is when 3G and WiFi are off, and you are doing min­i­mal work.  How­ev­er, I can attest that the bat­tery is a slow drain­er when you are sim­ple read­ing a book…  It was quite impres­sive.

The screen is frag­ile, and one of the first things I did was have a pro­fes­sion­al (sort of, it was a kiosk out­side the Apple Store) add a plas­tic sheet­ing over the screen to help pro­tect it.  I rec­om­mend buy­ing iPad insur­ance, since these devices are SO expen­sive.

The down­side of the screen, how­ev­er, is that it is not anti-glare and it is like a reg­u­lar com­put­er mon­i­tor, and is poor qual­i­ty under the sun.  So, sit­ting out on your open deck and read­ing a book in the ‘direct’ sun­light might be a lit­tle (or a lot) tough on the eyes if you can see the con­tent at all.

Over­all, I like the device a lot.  The user expe­ri­ence is one that is eas­i­ly adapt­ed to and under­stood since it is all touch screen, and if you can afford it.  I rec­om­mend it, as like the Kin­dle, and the net­book, it is eas­i­ly packed in my back­pack, is light, and can be used on the Web or with local con­tent.

If you are a pow­er user, like me, then you will undoubt­ed­ly find more cons, such as no mul­ti­task­ing, and more.  But in a sur­vival sit­u­a­tion, IMHO you will need to be focused on the sit­u­a­tion at hand, and look­ing up only one piece of infor­ma­tion at a time.

I hope this helps you under­stand how any of these elec­tron­ic devices can be used as a sur­vival­ist tool, as well as give you more insight into who I am.  In a lat­er post, I will add what PDFs I have on my iPad, as I do not want to make this too much longer.  It is long enough already.  If you want to know what apps I use on my iPhone for sur­vival, click the link and it will take you there.

Now, for the research on solar charg­ers, adapters, etc. for these devices in the field.

Please feel free to com­ment and add com­men­tary, as I did much of this from mem­o­ry and may have missed some­thing.

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