Where do tablets fit into the travel process? The tablet un-tethers the traveler from the desktop whether in a hotel room, at the airport, on an airplane or siting on the living room couch. The tablet itself greatly expands a traveler’s ability to dream and plan a vacation, but what about using a tablet while on holiday? Tablets can be used for both long term and near planning, but how about taking the tablet with you while touring a city. I faced this dilemma on my recent European vacation. Granted my tablet is a high end iPad2 which definitely influenced my decision. Overall I found the iPad2 a great traveling accessory that helped us plan out our daily and weekly activities, provided I could pry it out of the hands of my 15 year old daughter, but I was extremely reluctant to take my high end iPad2 it with me when we were out and about. This is where I believe the announcement of the the new tablet from Amazon and the already existing Barnes and Noble color nook will have an impact.
As with any computer device as tablets are more widely adopted prices will come down. The new Amazon tablet and color B & N Nook provide an e-reader combined with the Android OS which essentially brings tablet functionality to the masses on the lower end of the price range (The B & N Color Nook lists at $249). The idea of a young traveler taking their Color Kindle or Nook and putting it in their backpack will soon become common place. All the things that make smartphones great companions for travel will make these low end e-reader tablets ideal for electronic guide books, location based services, social networking, navigation and virtual reality applications. As was the case with the early PC, and smartphone, Apple has paved the way for a new category of device with the iPad, but it will be lower end tablet devices that will have the biggest impact on the travel experience.