Suggestions for Tablets To Use While Chasing?

Sep 25, 2006
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Minneapolis, MN
Anyone have any suggestions for tablets to use while chasing? Back in the day when I was chasing more I used a laptop with GR3 but the last few years I have just been using Radarscope on my phone since purchasing a laptop and paying for a data card wasn't worth it for how little I was chasing. Looking to upgrade this year to something a little easier to use while driving and something that I can mount to my dash. Do GR products work in tablets or do we have to use an app like Radarscope?
 

Lou Ruh

EF2
May 17, 2007
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SE PA
I do not have a Microsoft Surface tablet, but, there are a number of threads on here indicating that the GR products run fine on those products (at least the Pro version)
 
Jul 5, 2009
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Newtown, Pennsylvania
I use my iPad, which has a cell connection. Has everything I need - apps such as RadarScope and Google Maps, and access to whatever websites I need for models, surface obs, satellite, etc. I also have a laptop but once I have determined my target area and leave the hotel, it doesn’t come out again. In fact, sometimes I do my whole forecast on the iPad, it’s just a more convenient and enjoyable device to use. I guess the real gating item is whether you really want to use GR instead of RadarScope. Having never used GR, I guess I’m not one to comment, although RadarScope has served me just fine. My chase partner used to run Baron on his laptop as a backup in case we lost cellular service, but eventually we decided it just wasn’t worth the money or trouble.
 
Jan 14, 2011
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St. Louis
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Those who use tablets for chasing, how has it affected your driving? On a couple of occasions I've tried chasing with a phone and a small Android tablet, but I found the smaller screen was much harder to see and operate - to the point of being dangerous. With a laptop screen, you can glance at the radar and/or GPS map with essentially the same brevity as looking at the radio or AC console. You can also have the maps and radars zoomed out without losing detail on individual storms. With a smaller screen of a tablet or phone, I found it took much more time to look at what multiple storms were doing, because I always had to zoom back and forth in between wide and zoomed in modes. More than once when using the phone, I drifted over into the rumble strip because every act required more than a 2 or 3 second glance. That was enough to convince me to stop using the phone during a chase at all.

I minimize the laptop use when driving most of the time (lid closed), but when something quick is needed, it is much faster and easier to operate than a phone. For instance when zooming in to look at an upcoming side road or just switching from GPS to ThreatNet.
 
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Aug 9, 2012
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I use an Ipad Pro with radarscope to chase and my phone which also has radarscope on it. It works well, but as Dan said, it can definitely be a hazard if the screen is too small. I try to avoid using my phone while driving these days. Here in Illinois they are cracking down where you could potentially get your license suspended or a large fine if caught using your phone (yikes). When I'm on a storm though, I only typically glance at radar occasionally as I don't find it as necessary as using the maps application to find roads. I have the 10.5" model of the Ipad Pro but considering upgrading to the 12.9" model. The difference of the two is quite massive believe it or not. Another tablet option to consider is the Surface Pro, I've used those before and they are pretty nice and I think you can get GR on it.
 
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Reactions: Mark Blue
Jan 16, 2009
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Kansas City
I am watching this thread as I have thought about a move to a table as well. My main concern is that while chasing I do everything myself ... rarely do I have a capable navigator to help with route finding and radar. I have an Alienware 17" laptop that allows me to see the screen easily while chasing which is something that concerns me with a tablet. Watching to see different views on this ....
 

Todd Lemery

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Jun 2, 2014
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Although my chase partners and I have laptops with us while chasing, I don’t believe they were used at all last year while in the vehicle. Our IPads on the other hand were never shut off. The ease of switching to multiple windows and zooming in mean a lot to me.
When I do drive, I have my IPad looking at me in a cup holder IPad mount with RadarScope on. I technically shouldn’t even be doing that, but at least I don’t switch back and forth from different windows. It would just kill me if I couldn’t get a peek at radar once in a while...
 
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Sep 25, 2006
502
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Minneapolis, MN
Thanks for the replies guys! Do most tablets come with the ability to connect to a wireless data network (Verizon, ATT, etc) or do they need to be connected via wifi/hot spot? I see on Verizon's website that they offer tablets that can be added to the data plan but they come with a 2 year contract. If I buy a tablet on Amazon can I still get onto Verizon's network?

Also, how easy is it to switch from your radar program to GPS? This was one big benefit of using a laptop was how easy it was switch from one program to another. Doesn't seem like it would be quite as easy on a tablet. I usually chase solo so it'd be nice to know what to expect if I end up going the tablet route for this season.
 
Jul 5, 2009
1,022
816
21
Newtown, Pennsylvania
Those who use tablets for chasing, how has it affected your driving? On a couple of occasions I've tried chasing with a phone and a small Android tablet, but I found the smaller screen was much harder to see and operate - to the point of being dangerous. With a laptop screen, you can glance at the radar and/or GPS map with essentially the same brevity as looking at the radio or AC console. You can also have the maps and radars zoomed out without losing detail on individual storms. With a smaller screen of a tablet or phone, I found it took much more time to look at what multiple storms were doing, because I always had to zoom back and forth in between wide and zoomed in modes. More than once when using the phone, I drifted over into the rumble strip because every act required more than a 2 or 3 second glance. That was enough to convince me to stop using the phone during a chase at all.

I minimize the laptop use when driving most of the time (lid closed), but when something quick is needed, it is much faster and easier to operate than a phone. For instance when zooming in to look at an upcoming side road or just switching from GPS to ThreatNet.
Dan, I don't chase alone so usually stick to using the iPad when I'm in the passenger seat or my chase partner uses it while I am driving. But, as a control freak, I can't resist a peek at the radar, even if I am driving and my chase partner is in the passenger seat with the iPad. So, like @Todd Lemery (who also seems to share my unavoidable urge to peek at the radar), I have a cup holder mount that works pretty well - it's one that was recommended somewhere here on ST in fact. I don't find the iPad screen to be all that much harder to see than a laptop screen - in fact, in comparing the two, the crisper resolution versus a laptop screen can make up for its smaller size - but, as @Ethan Schisler said, there is a larger version of the iPad available that is probably even closer in size to a laptop screen.

Before I had the cup holder mount, it was impractical to take a peek at the iPad while driving just because it was harder to hold and needed to be down on my lap (or perhaps wedged vertically between the dash and the console gear shift). So I actually found it easier to take a quick glance at my iPhone versus the iPad, because at least I could hold the phone up higher and more quickly with just one hand.
 
Sep 25, 2006
502
69
11
30
Minneapolis, MN
I use my iPad, which has a cell connection. Has everything I need - apps such as RadarScope and Google Maps, and access to whatever websites I need for models, surface obs, satellite, etc. I also have a laptop but once I have determined my target area and leave the hotel, it doesn’t come out again. In fact, sometimes I do my whole forecast on the iPad, it’s just a more convenient and enjoyable device to use. I guess the real gating item is whether you really want to use GR instead of RadarScope. Having never used GR, I guess I’m not one to comment, although RadarScope has served me just fine. My chase partner used to run Baron on his laptop as a backup in case we lost cellular service, but eventually we decided it just wasn’t worth the money or trouble.
Do all iPads come equipped with a cell connection or do you have to be careful to buy the correct model for this feature? It'd be really nice to add a device to a data plan and use the cell networks to use the tablet versus using a mobile hot spot and connecting the tablet to the internet that way.
 
Sep 25, 2006
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69
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30
Minneapolis, MN
After looking at various options last night and today I am probably going to go with an iPad. Does anyone have any recommendations on how much memory I will need if I use this almost exclusively for chasing and using just Radarscope and a mapping app? I would like to save money if I can get away with a smaller memory iPad. There is quite a range in memory size so not sure what I would need.

Also, does anyone have recommendations on mounts for a tablet? I know Ram mounts make a variety but it's hard to know what works best for our niche need.
 
Sep 7, 2013
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Strasburg, CO
Current setup:

LG G6 Phone (On weboost cradle) - All apps and used for VZW hotspot for the following...
Old ass 1st Gen iPad (WIFI only)...primarily for maps and internet (radarscope no longer supported).
Samsung Galaxy Tab A (WIFI only) - Radar/maps and internet. It was the cheapest android tablet I could find that wasn't chinese junk. Works great. (For ~$200, its way cheaper than an iPad.)

For mounting, I use an Arkon seat bolt mount. Have for years and on my second one. Fits all variety of tablets and is infinitely adjustable. Link below but they have tons of options, so if you go this route, make sure to read the specs to be sure you find the right one.
Link: https://www.amazon.com/Arkon-Truck-...ds=arkon&qid=1582131080&s=electronics&sr=1-15
 
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Todd Lemery

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Jun 2, 2014
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Also, does anyone have recommendations on mounts for a tablet? I know Ram mounts make a variety but it's hard to know what works best for our niche need.
This tablet mount that fits in a cup holder is very flexible. It will hold your tablet in any direction or angle that you want. At $29.95 it’s pretty affordable too.



Oops! Forgot to include the link when I first posted
 
Last edited:
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I use a Microsoft Surface Go with a 10" screen. I use GR3 exclusively during the chase and satellite obs/forecast tools leading up to. I add my location with a bluetooth app. Use my phone for mapping and Radarscope if necessary. If you don't have a need for USB ports or flipping back and forth between pages during a chase it works pretty well. About $350 if I remember right. I tend to run very light on equipment in the truck (tablet, phone, amplifier, jetpack and that's it).

The one negative is due to the smallness of the screen switching between radar sites can be a pain because the font is small and you have to either zoom in and click or get lucky and hit just the right spot when it's zoomed out.

20200219_120542.jpg
 
Jul 5, 2009
1,022
816
21
Newtown, Pennsylvania
Do all iPads come equipped with a cell connection or do you have to be careful to buy the correct model for this feature? It'd be really nice to add a device to a data plan and use the cell networks to use the tablet versus using a mobile hot spot and connecting the tablet to the internet that way.
After looking at various options last night and today I am probably going to go with an iPad. Does anyone have any recommendations on how much memory I will need if I use this almost exclusively for chasing and using just Radarscope and a mapping app? I would like to save money if I can get away with a smaller memory iPad. There is quite a range in memory size so not sure what I would need.

Also, does anyone have recommendations on mounts for a tablet? I know Ram mounts make a variety but it's hard to know what works best for our niche need.
Dean, I saw Rob answered already on the cell vs wifi.

As far as memory, I would rather be safe than sorry. What seems like enough memory today, may not be enough in a couple of years, as the way you think you're going to use your iPad evolves in new directions, and then next thing you know, you're stuck buying another iPad. Having said that, mine is a few years old; I bought it with 128 GB and still have 94 GB available. But I also have an iPhone and use that for my memory-hogging stuff (music, photos, podcasts). Most of my iPad memory is taken up by photos, and I'm not even sure if any memory is used up by pictures that synch to my iPad from my iPhone, or if those reside in iCloud... But I do take a lot of screen shots of data directly onto my iPad when chasing, and RadarScope allows you to save images and loops, which you might find yourself doing as a way to go back and do post-mortems on your chases.
 

James K

EF3
Mar 26, 2019
242
94
6
Colorado
I have an android tablet that I plan on using for the weather/radar app (actually have 2 different tablets, not sure which one I'll end up going with).
Have a laptop that I could bring (after I've replaced the battery), but I'm not sure I'd really have much use for it. .. .though I might try installing a version of android on it, the large screen would deff be nice!
But no matter what device I bring, it'd be turned off unless I'm parked somewhere. (I consider it to dangerous to be looking at your phone/tablet/computer while driving, not to mention its illegal in CO )

As far as maps/GPS, that part I don't know what I'll do yet, I do have a standalone GPS unit, but I believe unless you give it a specific destination its useless.. Might have to find a good free android-based maps app(and ideally one you could download/save your state's map to ahead of time)

I'll need to find to find me a new cellphone & carrier at some point before spring too (but thats a subject for a new thread if I can't find what I'm looking for through google'ing)
 
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Jun 12, 2019
42
52
6
Michigan
I use an iPad Air 2 with a 9.7" screen. I use the 13" Cellet Cup Holder Tablet Mount that's currently running about $30 on Amazon. It holds my tablet (which is wearing an Otterbox Defender encapsulating case) and has had no problems with the extra bulk, and keeps the display up high near the dash. I hotspot to my phone, which usually stays stowed away in the forward part of the center console, tucked in with the inside antenna of the WeBoost Drive 4G-X signal booster. I bring a laptop, but like James said, it stays in its bag once I'm on the road.

I have offline nav built into my truck, but I'll still use the iPad for the satellite view (if I have enough LTE signal) of the road grid in the more questionable areas. And as much as I'd like to say I never glance at it while driving, I'd be lying. Especially when I hear EAS tones come across the radio... I want to see where the polygon popped up. I will say that I've gotten a lot better about only turning the iPad on when I'm stopped/parked (for radar/satellite imagery/etc), and I try to navigate around a storm using primarily visual cues if I'm able to.

IMG_0416.JPG
(Photo was taken while parked)
 

Mark Blue

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Feb 19, 2007
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Good choice on the iPad Dean. The iPads with cellular built in are the most expensive as compared to WiFi only, but it’s convenient to have both available. I bought a RAM mount to use last year but never got around to installing it. IIRC it was around $100.00 and fits under the seat plate/bolt of any car that is relatively flat in that area. If you have an existing hotspot you could keep that and use it in dead spots with your primary carrier. For instance, I bought the Verizon iPad model from the Apple Store, same version as @Ethan Schisler, the 10.9” iPad Pro. I also have a Netgear Nighthawk MR1100 that I bought outright from AT&T new for $200.00. So generally I connect via Verizon on my iPad but when I see it’s not connected I plug in my Netgear, turn on WiFi on my iPad and usually get a connection through AT&T. I’ve pretty much done away with amplifiers because I don’t think they add that much value anymore, unless you’re stationary and can aim a YAGI antenna at the tower. I hope all of this has helped.
 
Sep 25, 2006
502
69
11
30
Minneapolis, MN
I use an iPad Air 2 with a 9.7" screen. I use the 13" Cellet Cup Holder Tablet Mount that's currently running about $30 on Amazon. It holds my tablet (which is wearing an Otterbox Defender encapsulating case) and has had no problems with the extra bulk, and keeps the display up high near the dash. I hotspot to my phone, which usually stays stowed away in the forward part of the center console, tucked in with the inside antenna of the WeBoost Drive 4G-X signal booster. I bring a laptop, but like James said, it stays in its bag once I'm on the road.

I have offline nav built into my truck, but I'll still use the iPad for the satellite view (if I have enough LTE signal) of the road grid in the more questionable areas. And as much as I'd like to say I never glance at it while driving, I'd be lying. Especially when I hear EAS tones come across the radio... I want to see where the polygon popped up. I will say that I've gotten a lot better about only turning the iPad on when I'm stopped/parked (for radar/satellite imagery/etc), and I try to navigate around a storm using primarily visual cues if I'm able to.
Do the older versions of the iPad work just fine for chasing? They are quite a bit cheaper than the newer models with the larger screens so I'm curious if they work well for chasing. Is the screen big enough to see easily while chasing?
 
Jun 12, 2019
42
52
6
Michigan
Do the older versions of the iPad work just fine for chasing? They are quite a bit cheaper than the newer models with the larger screens so I'm curious if they work well for chasing. Is the screen big enough to see easily while chasing?
I think so, and my vision is pretty not great. A lot of it is individual preference though... your mileage may vary. When I bought my iPad, it was the new, current model. And as much as I'm sure Apple would like me to, I don't have plans to trade up anytime soon. It is more than enough for what I use it for (RS, surface obs, visible sat, occasional Google Maps).

Like I mentioned earlier in the thread, I am getting better about not using it while driving, BUT... if you're going to have it on while driving, my recommendation is to mount it as high as possible (while not obstructing your view). Try to get it as close to the top of the dash as you can, so your forward gaze doesn't deviate much when you glance at it. (That's also the reason why the built-in infotainment screens are always up high on the dash.)

Hope this helps!