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Discussion: Recommendations for tablet for mapping

in: Orienteering; General

Jun 26, 2021 4:37 PM # 
I’ve searched through the boards and can’t find recent commentary on recommended tablets for mapping.
Can you share your experience with tablets fir someone ready to buy a low cost tablet dedicated to mapping? OOM
Jun 26, 2021 6:35 PM # 
Blaik Mathews of Florida Orienteering recently wrote a report on outfitting himself for tablet mapping. His recommendation is not at the low cost end of tablets these seem to be worth what is paid for them. My guess is that it will be lower cost in the end. I hope he doesn't mind me posting his recommendation here.

Here is his recommended package:

"Surface Pro 6 core i5 8 GB RAM 256GB SSD
The Surface pen and signature type cover keyboard
A bluetooth mouse
A protective case with neck strap
A supplemental field battery pack

"That last item is very handy for long days in the field. The screen drains your battery more than anything, and outside you want the screen bright so you don't have to strain to see it. At full brightness, this battery will last about 5 hours with the Surface Pro 6 (and then you step down in brightness a couple notches as that battery runs dry and the tablet battery takes over). One step down from max brightness, the supplemental battery lasts all day for me"
Jun 26, 2021 7:10 PM # 
I use a Samsung Galaxy Tab A (8 inch, I think). I bought a cheap case that has a strap on the back to make it easier to carry.

I run OOM and use the scribble mode almost exclusively. I use a cheap stylus that was a give away at a conference.

I use the built in GPS. I'd describe it as adequate given that I have good base maps. If I were mapping without a good base map, I'd be a bit concerned with the accuracy of the GPS.

I think the tablet was around $120 and the case was about $20.
Jun 26, 2021 10:30 PM # 
OOM with an Android SAMSUNG Galaxy Tab Active2
with a strap in the back

Also using the scribble mode almost exclusively. The built-in GPS is so so (10-20m under trees). Added a Garmin GLO 2 Bluetooth GPS Receiver, which helps but isn't perfect (5~10m under trees).
Jun 27, 2021 3:13 AM # 
Samsung TAB 8 inch as well. We have very open canopy (and in the case of the most recent map, almost no canopy). The internal gps performs very well under those conditions such that I don't bother with my Garmin GLO. I also have a Surface Pro, but the lack of internal gps and problems I had with connecting an external sent me out to buy the Samsung tablet.
Jun 28, 2021 12:55 AM # 
Well, this might be a surprise but I just started using my smartphone to do field checking. My phone plan offered an upgrade and I chose the Moto G Stylus thinking it might work for mapping. It’s $200 but didn’t really cost me anything as I got credit toward my Google Fi phone plan. This works great because if I go field checking, I’m going to have my phone with me anyway for emergencies. The phone is very easy to carry around, especially compared to what I was using, an Armor X7 ruggedized Windows tablet that weighed 3 lbs and only lasted 3 hrs on a full charge. The Moto G Stylus display is only 6.4” but I found that I didn’t really miss having a bigger screen as I could zoom in and out as needed. The main issue with the display was seeing it in the sunlight. On my most recent project, my phone battery lasted 6 hrs. I could have easily used it while attached to an external battery in my pocket but my O pants don’t have any pockets (sidenote: why don’t O-pants have pockets?)
This is the first time using a device for mapping where I have the GPS location displayed on the O-map and it was pretty cool to just go to a feature, mark it and move on without having to figure out exactly where it should be placed on the map. I can see where this can really save time in the field, although I found that it takes some time getting used to "The Touch Mode User Interface” on OOM. At least it works really well when the GPS has high accuracy. Unfortunately, it seems that OOM does not show the GPS estimated accuracy which is one of the things that I like about Oribooklet and MapRun. Next I'm going to try an external bluetooth GPS (Bad Elf Surveyor, $600) for more accuracy. My club (Nav-X) purchased one this year for determining accurate locations for MapRun virtual GPS courses. It seems a lot of mappers get enough accuracy from the $100 Garmin Glo but the Bad Elf was recommended to me by some GIS professionals.
I also think using OOM on an Android would be a great tool for course setting (if you have a georeferenced map of course). I feel like it could help prevent course setting mistakes and maybe even decrease the need for vetting, at least when the vetting is primarily for determining control placement. You wouldn’t even need to bring a paper map!
Jun 28, 2021 1:21 AM # 
All of my O-pants have pockets.
Jun 28, 2021 5:53 AM # 
I can see a huge market opportunity here. Orienteering mappers who run while mapping.

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