Touchscreens – cool, but not really for travel

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Contributed by Nimish Dubey

They may have taken the world by storm, but we think that touchscreens – be they on phones, computers, tablets, satnavs or cameras – are not really travel-friendly. Don’t get us wrong – it is not as if we dislike touchscreens. If anything, we think products like the iPhone and iPad are amazing. However, we doubt if we would be taking one along on an extended trip. No, this is not an impulse but a well-thought-out opinion. Here, then is the case against touchscreens when it comes to travel.

1. Battery life: Would you like to spend your trip enjoying the sights and sounds of the place you are visiting, or looking out for a place to recharge your device? Well, most devices do need a fair bit of recharging but touchscreens, alas, thanks to their bright and generally larger displays, need recharging more often. So if you are planning on a trip to a remote area, either dump your touchscreen device or take a portable charger along (which, incidentally is another gadget to carry, adding to your burden).

2. Fragile: We can hear a lot of people getting outraged at this, but in our experience, the chances of damaging a touchscreen gadget by dropping it are far greater than dropping one which uses physical buttons. Yes, we have some very rugged Satnavs with touchscreens but for the most part, carrying a touchscreen generally means keeping it very carefully indeed – something which is not always possible on one’s travels. Oh, and you will need to invest in a screen protector too to make sure the touchscreen keeps ticking over and is free from scratches and abrasions.

3. Ease of use: Again, there are going to be howls of protest from those using iPhones iPads, but all we are trying to say is that barring exceptions like those devices, most touchscreen gadgets are not too easy to use, with screens that have to be jabbed rather than touched and worse, some even need a stylus (we have lost count of the number of times we have lost those). Even the iPhone, otherwise the easiest device to use in town, can be a bit of a pain to use if you want to enter lots of text.

4. Repairs and service: We have heard of people getting Nokia and BlackBerry phones repaired in remote locations, but if something goes wrong with your touchscreen device, we have a feeling you are going to have some trouble getting it repaired. Replacing a touchscreen on a device generally requires genuine spare parts, which again are not easy to find.

5. Cost: Yes, touchscreen devices are getting cheaper but the stark fact is that in general their buttoned counterparts cost lesser. Now, one of the general rules of travel is that you do not, as a rule, carry your most expensive gear along.

So there you are – if you are caught between a touchscreen and a button-driven device and you are the travelling type, we would say – take both! But when you are travelling, stick to the buttoned one please. Or if you really have space to spare, take both along. We wish we had a penny for every time we have seen a person carrying an iPhone AND a BlackBerry or an iPad AND a laptop.

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