Lugging a Laptop – Is it Necessary?

Can a smartphone really serve you the same as a laptop when you are on the road? NO. (It can serve you better!) For now, let’s just consider the convenience factor.

I used to spend 20 minutes or more any time I had to leave the office packing up my laptop, the extra batteries, the charging cord, the CD’s I might need, along with the printed documents of my current projects, hard copies of articles and web content that I was currently writing, and my trusty Roget’s Thesaurus. And, ironically, I usually forgot something essential — like forwarding my phone. When I returned, I had to unpack everything (my laptop was — and still is — my main machine. Desktop replacement laptops are a bit heavier than the less powerful ones, but I needed to run some pretty hefty programs, and I didn’t want to keep two machines going all the time.

So, you see, when I was being a road warrior, I had to travel heavy to travel at all. I could squeeze two hours out of the laptop’s battery if I didn’t use my disk drive much. Even with the backup battery, I couldn’t hope for more than 3.5-4 hours of work time, and that wasn’t uninterrupted work time, since a battery change was involved.

It took forever to boot the thing, and as a writer, by the time I got it all booted up, I’d sometimes have lost part of the thought or concept I was trying to capture. This means I would always have to carry pen and paper too. The battery would ALWAYS die at the worst possible moment in the creative process. Then, I was lugging around all that weight, and was unable to use it. At all.

And, I was a horrible visitor. I’d always ask for an outlet the moment I arrived anywhere. I needed to get “juiced up.” (It kinda left me feeling like an addict in search of a power-fix.) And it took forever to recharge the batteries. Truth be told, I’m not a patient person.

But now, all that has changed (except for the patience thing) with my little Treo 650.

Now, it takes me less than three minutes total to be ready to go. I hit my HotSync button to ensure my current documents and files are up to date, pop the Treo off its stand, pull out my extra charged battery and slide it into the pouch in my purse and slip the Treo itself into its leather case and snap it on my belt.

With that, I’m out the door. The Treo has a great battery life (I usually don’t even pop in my extra battery unless I’m using it for more than 8 or 10 hours solid). And, I don’t lose ideas anymore, by the time I could pull out a notebook and locate a pen in my purse, I can power up the Palm and launch my favorite notes program. With the memory upgrade on the Treo 650 (over the Treo 600), I don’t have to worry about losing any information if my battery goes flat.

I can also take out a bit of extra protection by doing a quick backup to the SD expansion card if I’ve been working for quite some time and start to feel paranoid.

I don’t have to juggle a laptop and a phone and paper, and files. I keep them all with me and the quick power up is the KEY to usefulness in this type of device. If I have to wait to access my program, I won’t use it. With my own Treo, I don’t have to wait. It’s ready the second I am.

I keep what I need on the Treo. I don’t forget things. And, if I do manage to forget something like forwarding my phone, I can fix that on the road with a quick call to my 800 service or by logging onto it online and changing the preferences.

I’ve done a lot to customize my system to help it work the way I work. With a laptop, you usually have to change your work style to match the way the software launches and works. With the Treo, you can make it “fit the bill” however you need to make your life easier.

I use the standard thumboard for most “on the fly” data entry and am using two models of portable keyboards now when I need to write more “long winded” pieces.

On a personal note, I’m still testing out the portable keyboards but I can tell you that no matter WHAT type of portable keyboard you get, having long nails is disastrous. As much as I type, my nails grow quite quickly. That never bothers me on my ergo-keyboard, but on the travel models, it’s a problem. So if you are going “mobile” — be sure to tuck a pair of clippers in your “essentials” bag.