I admit, I live in the center of an electronic whirling world of gadgets and technologies. I would be loath to divest myself of a desktop computer, especially one with a huge 27" screen (or larger). I also find my laptop to be indispensable for travel and presentations. I guess where I could pare down some would be in the iPad/iPod/iPhone department. I have an iPod, that I use less frequently than I did previously, because I now have access to an iPhone and and iPod Touch (actually an old iPhone). The iPod is loaded up with every piece of music we own on CD and we take it with us on trips to hook into the car's sound system.
But I am finding that I use it less and less. On the other hand the real question is whether I use an iPad, an iPod Touch and/or an iPhone. You could substitute a tablet computer and an Android phone if you wanted to compare uses. Admittedly, I have virtually the same applications on the iPhone and the two other devices, including several dedicated genealogy programs. What I am finding is that I don't see as well as I used to and with my failing eyesight, I appreciate the larger screen on the iPad. But I often need the portability of the iPhone and its connection to the Internet.
All of these devices can connect directly to the Internet with a data plan from a service provider. This means that you would have an extra cost each month so that your iPad/tablet or whatever would connect independently to the Internet. Otherwise, you have to depend on WiFi, a very limited range wireless network, to connect. So, if you are traveling in a car and you want to look up someplace to eat or stay, you can only do this if you have an Internet data connection of some kind. I happen to have my iPhone set up with a data plan. So that goes with me everywhere. I can always use maps, location services, and look things up in Google no matter where I am. Of course, there are service limitations. We found poor to inadequate service all across the U.S. Midwest from AT&T.
So, I would have an iPhone or other smartphone, no matter what, with a data plan. The other devices are convenient and nice to have around, but they only connect to the Internet when I have a free WiFi connection. I get that WiFi connection at home by using a wireless router. This is a device to hook up to the Internet and broadcast your own local wireless network. We can use any of our wireless devices just as if we were connected directly to the Internet with no extra cost. In addition, these devices can be used for a free connection to the Internet anywhere we can find free WiFi, such as airports, hotels, libraries, churches, my children's houses and so forth.
I also use the iPad (tablet) to read books. I find that I can check out books from the library electronically and read them at home or anywhere I have my iPad or iPhone, and then they get checked back into the library automatically.
Can you do your genealogy on an iPad? Well, yes, depending on the keyboard you use and what program you use. It is not as convenient as a laptop, but is usable for a lot of things.
What would I give up? None of them, except maybe the old iPod.
What else? Of course you need a printer. Presently, printers are often included for free or nearly free with the purchase of a computer. The free ones are almost always ink jet printers and the shock is that replacement cartridges can cost more than the printer did initially. For that reason, we use laser printers. They are much less expensive to operate and seem to work almost forever. We have an HP Laserjet 1200 that has been chugging away for about eight years now. I recommend a laser printer, unless you do very little printing and/or want to print photos. What we have learned though is that you can take a flash drive of photos to Costco, Sams Club, Best Buy or whatever and have them printed for less than the cost of buy the ink for your own printer.
Of course, you also want to be able to add documents and letters and etc. to your genealogy files and that takes a scanner. I have written a lot about scanners versus digital cameras lately, so I will skip the details and say that they both have their place.
Of course, you need some kind of camera, preferably a high-resolution digital camera. Right now, very inexpensive digital cameras come with a 12+ Megapixel resolution and cost under $100. However, with camera equipment, the sky is the limit. You can spend the equivalent of the average gross national product of a small country on camera equipment, if you wish to do so.
Well, I am sure I will think of more on this subject by tomorrow.