11 Weeks with just an Android Tablet (Coby MID7015)


Dec 14, 2010
No desktop computer, No laptop computer, No netbook, No smartphone.

Why? My wife and I bicycled in France for 11 weeks (only 1500 miles).

Coby MID7015 - $150 last Christmas
External Mini Keyboard - $15 OfficeMax - Metal based
16GB microSD card
8GB microSD card
2 Amp USB wall charger with European pins
Custom made power cord for USB charger

The external mini keyboard was the deal maker. Without it we would have also carried a netbook. The USB charger was for the tablet and also two MP3 player/radios. I have four different versions of Android I can boot to using ClockWorkMod. My have about 60 apps installed, no Google Market.

First Disaster:
My custom made power cord died after about a week. I was soldering thin wires maybe 30 ga. to make a USB to power pin cable. The luck of the Irish was with me. The next day I asked a young guy at a bus stop where to shop for a cable. He said L.Ecleric's. So I went there and found a universal USB cable kit for Motorola phones with USB on one end of the cable and four or five plugs for the other end. Although the cable said it was for 0.5 Amp it worked fine with this 2 Amp max demand. The power pin has a yellow band, just like the pin I used in the cable I made.

Second Disaster:
I was at hotel with poor WiFi reception. I remembered that TipStir's HC system should have better reception so I decided to boot to it. Of course I first made a backup. The backup said something about out of memory but seemed to complete. Then I loaded TipStir's HC. It wouldn't boot. So I restored to the backup. It wouldn't boot. Then I realized the memory error was a red light I drove right through. Now the tablet would not boot at all. The Coby screen came up but the second screen with Android never arrived. I tried to reinstall from the sdcard but the update.zip in the root of the sdcard was TipStir's not Coby's so it refused install it. Stuck. It could only boot and display Coby until the battery died. The buttons would not even let me turn it off. I could get to the Android system restore screen and free memory but I could not install a system. It took several days and two helpful Tourist Bureaus before I got someone with a PC to rescue me. I had the Coby update.zip on the sdcard but not in the root directory. It took a PC to find the file and move it. Then I could restore the system from the sdcard. But now it was very generic and not rooted. I couldn't root it without a PC but at least it was working again. I had my apps backed up as apks so reinstalling my favorites was easy enough. But without rooting I could not tweak the graphics for angry birds text boxes, not a concern for the trip.

Third Disaster:
16GB microSD card failed. Lost folders of photo backups, still had the originals on the camera cards. Lost pages of text for the blogs. My wife made all her notes on paper and typed them in. So she just lost the typing effort. I only used the tablet and lost about 10 days of notes, no backup. Switched to second microSD card and started making backups to NAND for text pages.

Main use of tablet:
WiFi browser - dolphin. TextEdit to enter text. AndFTP to upload photos to web for backup. Dolphin browser for update to CrazyGuyOnABike blog. Amazon Kindle app for books, especially a tour book for France. OSM, OpenStreetMap - excellent map system with all the little roads in France plus some points of interest. AndExplorer. Spare Parts app to monitor battery.
Lesser use of tablet apps:
La chaine meteo - weather, NPR News, RealCalc, WiFi Buddy
OK I confess games were used too: mostly Jewels, AngryBirds, Bulls and Cows, Andoku, OpenSudoku, SeQ, ScrambleNet.

We camped almost every night except the last week when we were in Paris. Electricity was not always available and WiFi was even more scarce. We had WiFi often enough to read emails and maintain a blog. Processing the photos for the blog, selecting and uploading, was too big a chore so it waited until we got home.

Air Canada's 777 across the Atlantic had excellent entertainment centers with touch screens, USB outlet and 110V outlet. I used the my adapter with 110 to USB then switched to the USB connector in the entertainment center. That was a mistake. I should have stayed with the 110. The tablet ran fine on the USB but lost charge. I guess their USB is 0.5A and the tablet needs 1 to 2A which it would have the 110V adapter. Even having the entertainment center we still took turns with the Android tablet the whole flight (to play games). The tablet is an excellent toy for long trips.

Two bicycles and some knowledge of French makes for a wonderful summer in France, even for a couple with one over 60 and the other almost there.