The convertible tablet we purchased to be able to fill-in the surveys directly online has been a little bit of an adventure. It was acting really slow when we got it and did practice runs of the survey on it. I knew we couldn’t have something slow in the field so I dropped it off at IT services. When it was “in the shop” so to speak, I was still spending about an hour per survey to do transcription and any of the calculations that I couldn’t be done one site (I got faster over time though).
Once we got the tablet back, it was responding much faster to commands but the sim card didn’t seem to be registering so we still could not use it in the field. It took a week of phone tag to get the phone company to explain that the sim card was registered and working but that because it was not a “real” tablet and was a computer I need to change setting on the computer to make it read the card. I am not that tech savvy and I have to admit it took my 4 days and a lot of blog searching to get things to work. But I did! Just before our first big week of garden surveys.
Unfortunately, once I got to an interview and tried to write using the screen as a pad, I realized the computer didn’t understand French and would not let me write anything I needed as it was making strange autocorrects that I could not fix (I would of have had to use the screen-touch keypad which somewhat defeated the purpose of having the tablet). After some more online searching I was able to download a French recognition package though. Still, I found it frustrating when the pad would auto correct my words to something I didn’t want in the next interview-survey I conducted. During the meeting I ended up just flipping the tablet into computer mode and typing (which worked well and made it worth white having the sim card, but still a bit frustrating).
My assistant then took it out for surveys in community gardens. He had a little trouble seeing the writing on the screen with the sun, thought it was to heavy for biking from site to site, and thought that it seemed slower than simply writing on paper and transcribing.
This week, my other assistant and I conducted 2 surveys and again ended up flipping the tablet to computer mode as we thought it was taking us to long (and some of our attention away from the respondent) in a meeting with a busy actor. For the time being, when the surveys take place outside we will use paper copies and do the transcription after but continue to use the computer inside to minimize transcription time when ever possible.