Well, since I'm obviously now writing while moving around, I decided before the start of this trip that it was finally time I bought one of those computery tabletty things everyone's been talking about! Something portable, light in my bag and that will let me connect to Wi-Fi. And since I'm trying to bear in mind considerations of ethics, sustainability and the environment (yes, ok, flying to the other side of the planet and back doesn't exactly fit with that), I had a bash at choosing my new dream machine along eco-friendly lines!
And if I may add a disclaimer right here... the next few paragraphs are NOT the result of weeks of in-depth cross-comparison. Nor do they delve terribly far into the finer details of, say, the tablets’ production cycle, the labour laws of the manufacturing countries, the biodegradability and non-toxicity of the materials used... etc. I’m aware that a comprehensive answer to the question “Which is the greenest tablet?” would require a whole lot more research than I was able to achieve in just a couple of hours. However, time was of the essence – my departure date was a week away – so when I came across a sort of “ethical electronics comparison site” I pretty much just decided to trust it and crack on...
So, as regards what I was looking for, the main criteria were: must run Windows, must be an 8-inch screen (no bigger), and must be from a manufacturer that at least appears to be investing serious effort in helping to make big changes. And to come up with something that fulfilled all three proved far trickier than I'd imagined, or at any rate for less than £300 or so!
Anyway, I started off really fancying a Surface Pro, so I had a dig around the Microsoft website. Their environmental credentials seemed absolutely superb, but I wasn't really seeing anything in my price range; I wanted a separate keyboard, for one thing, and the Microsoft one added an extra £130 to the total. However, the website had a link to a very comprehensive-looking directory called EPEAT (http://www.epeat.net/ ) and after investigating for a while I got the impression that even the excellent Microsoft was being outdone in the eco stakes by the likes of Dell and Fujitsu! Though the Surface Pro 3 did get a silver rating. So I had a look at some of the models that EPEAT rated as "gold", but MY, they were expensive. For example, the Dell Venue 10 Pro 5056 and the Fujitsu Stylistic Q775 were both in the £900 - £1100 range (ouch!) and too big anyway (10 inch and 13.3 inch).
One product that kept coming up again and again as I skimmed review after review was the ASUS Transformer Book T100. I read a few reports and it looked fantastic! Oh, I was tempted... people were raving about its speed, the fact it has full Windows 8.1, the 2GB of onboard RAM, the included keyboard, etc. Plus it wasn't tooooo big, and it was a real bargain. Unfortunately, Asus as a brand doesn't seem to score as highly in environmental/ethical terms as some of its competitors; I’m happy to go into more depth on this if anyone wants to know. However, space is limited
here, and I admit it’s a very complex issue about which there's a WHOLE lot I don't know!
I decided to continue my search. The next possible contender I stumbled across seemed spot on: the Toshiba Encore 2 Write WP8 (8 inch, full Windows, 32 GB storage, not overpriced, awarded EPEAT silver). I must have decided to go for it, because the next thing I knew there was a rather funky, purple, leather-look dedicated case for said tablet in my online basket! Ha ha :) So I went ahead and bought the Toshiba - a refurb model for £175, but I crossed my fingers it was going to work ok.
It arrived! I opened the door, put my usual illegible scrawl in the nice delivery man's signature machine, and rushed inside to unpack my parcel... but nooooooo! What's this? 10-inch, surely?! I rang the company... human error, admin issue. They don't have the one I was after but they DO have an 8-inch Toshiba model, older, less RAM, also refurb. Would I like that instead? Errr, no thanks. Back it went, as did I to the drawing board...
More than a little frustrated at having to start my search afresh 5 days before my departure date, I dived in again. I still wanted an 8-inch model but was really struggling to find anything I could afford on EPEAT, and every "how to find the greenest / most ethical tablet" article I read seemed to hark back to 2012 or 2013 and the models available at the time... a lot has changed since then.
So, my final choice? I actually DID manage to pin down an EPEAT silver-rated tablet: the Dell Venue 8 Pro. 8 inch. Full Windows 8.1. 64GB memory. 2GB RAM. Good ethical credentials (leaders of efforts to create a conflict-free supply chain, amongst other achievements; follow this link for more info on Dell’s stellar performance in 2015: http://www.dell.com/learn/us/en/uscorp1/secure/2015-03-09-dell-worlds-most-ethical-company-ethisphere ).
And the price? £279.
My Venue 8 Pro arrived the following day, and I was VERY chuffed that the funky purple leather-effect case still fit!