The first need was power. You can't take a multi-day ride with a tablet on maximum brightness and not have aux power. I purchased what looked like a rugged 12v USB socket from Amazon--unfortunately, it died before I could use it (no clue why--the wires show no sign of heat damage, the inline fuse is fine, and it has never been wet because I garage my bike at all times). At the time of this writing, I am back to the drawing board on this step.
The next challenge was the mount--how to secure a tablet to the bike. The tablet I have chosen, the Nexus 7 wifi, is really light. I purchased a rugged case for it, but even then it's well under a pound. My first effort was to try to hack a cup-holder phone cradle to work--I tore it apart till I just had the stem, but couldn't find a way to install it without 1) compromising safety and 2) damaging the very visible cockpit area. Finally, I bit the bullet and purchased a RAM Mount marine mount as well as and Adventure Tech GPS mount (http://www.adventuretech.biz/over-the-dash-gps-mounts.html) The mount install was painless and the RAM mount seems really secure. (NOTE: I had to push the photos quite a bit to get them lit up enough to see, so they're grainy):
The next challenge was mounting the tablet to the RAM Mount. The case I purchased has a rubber cover for the tablet, with a hard plastic back which separates from the rubber cover. I matched up the RAM mount mounting plate holes to the vertical and horizontal center of the rigid plastic back, drilled holes, and used some flathead automotive mounting posts to fix the plastic to the mounting plate.
Now I have a ruggedized tablet fastened to a RAM Mount, just above my instruments, which it is visible but not distracting. Using Bluetooth, I can connect my Sena headset to the tablet, where I receive turn-by-turn directions as well as music (the Sena can connect multiple devices, so I also have my phone connected, in order to take calls).
Why a tablet, instead of the Garmin GPS most riders carry? Price, convenience, and functionality.
- The Garmin GPS is $500-$600 new. I already own the tablet.
- The tablet has a camera which will take shots (still and video) right through the windscreen, so it's a great way to capture snippets from the road.
- The tablet allows me several options in terms of GPS apps.
- I can run Rever on my tablet, which is how I plan, track, and share rides with others.
- The tablet also allows me to write and assemble blog entries.
- With the tablet, I can connect to and pull content off my Nikon J5 as well as my GoPro, to enhance blog entries.
- The tablet is lighter than a Garmin, but has a larger screen and much higher resolution.
- With an Android device, I can keep in touch via social media whenever I stop. If I'm not somewhere where there is wifi, I can use my phone as a hotspot.