Extreme mobility: Tools and tips for smartphone-only travel
You can enjoy the liberation of traveling without a laptop -- if you have the right equipment and plan ahead.
Computerworld - After more than 20 years of dragging a notebook computer around whenever I traveled, I finally told myself that enough is enough. On two recent business trips, I joined the small but growing number of travelers who eschew a laptop in favor of a smaller, lighter device.
I could have opted for an iPad or an Android tablet, which would have lightened my load somewhat while providing a 7-to-10-in. screen. But that's an intermediary approach that would still require carrying a phone in addition to the tablet, probably shaving only a few pounds off my travel weight. I decided to go all the way to the light side and see if I could travel with just a smartphone. Call it extreme mobility.
Leaving my laptop and its clunky power adapter at my office has lightened my load considerably. I feel like the After picture in an ad for a new diet plan. Before, I was hunched over, burdened by a heavy notebook bag filled with nearly 10 lbs. of assorted stuff. The After shot shows me standing up straight, holding a thin leather briefcase that houses my smartphone, accessories, paper files and reading material.
All told, I cut 7 lbs. out of my hand baggage -- not bad for a diet that doesn't involve Nutrisystem or eating a mango with every meal.
Of course, it's not quite as simple as swapping a laptop for a phone. There are serious pros and cons to laptop-free travel, and pulling it off takes some extra planning, new hardware and software, and a willingness to squint at a small screen.
In my travels, I relied on an LG Nitro HD smartphone ($100 with a two-year contract), which runs Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) and can tap into AT&T's 4G LTE data service for fast connectivity. It weighs 4.8 oz. (6.8 oz. with its power adapter), a savings of nearly 5 lbs. compared to my HP EliteBook 2560p notebook and its 13-oz. power adapter.
In addition to the phone's included apps for email, Web browsing and mapping, I downloaded several more from the Android Market to make working from a phone feasible. Many of these were free, and those I had to pay for cost less than $30, allowing me to outfit the phone with the programs I needed for laptop-free travel for less than $100. That's half as much as I paid for just my desktop version of Microsoft Office.
While I used an Android smartphone, you can of course get similar results with an iPhone, a Windows Phone or a BlackBerry, although the latter two will offer fewer apps to aid you in your journey.
Successes and failures
During my trips, I succeeded in doing most of my work without a notebook. I was able to keep up with email, do Web research, write using a word processor, update spreadsheets and give presentations. Using a foldable Bluetooth keyboard and having a stand for the phone helped make it all work.
I also found a wealth of entertainment possibilities for the smartphone, including movies, Internet radio and games. Adding a tiny Bluetooth speaker made it, well, more entertaining. I even stayed in touch with my family via Skype video calls and kept an eye on things back home with a remote webcam app.
Unfortunately, my experience was not a clean sweep. I was unable to successfully update my website using Typepad's Web interface, and I couldn't work with complex project management documents. I spent too much time zooming in to make a change or check on a font size, then zooming out to see the big picture. Zoom in, zoom out -- lather, rinse, repeat. Before long, I gave up.
Nevertheless, I've found that I can do nearly everything with my trusty smartphone that I once used my notebook for. Keep reading for the best tools and tips I've found for smartphone-only travel. (story continues)
Before and After: What I Carried
|HP EliteBook 2560p notebook: 70.4 oz. (4.4 lbs.)||LG Nitro HD smartphone: 4.8 oz.|
|AC adapter and power cord: 13 oz.||AC adapter: 2 oz.|
|Cellphone and AC adapter: 5.3 oz.||Foldable Bluetooth keyboard: 9 oz.|
|Wireless mouse: 4 oz.||Binder clip stand: 0.6 oz.|
|Mobile hotspot and AC adapter: 6 oz.||Bluetooth speaker: 7.6 oz.|
|Notebook bag: 56 oz. (3.5 lbs.)||Briefcase: 19.2 oz. (1.2 lbs.)|
|Total: 154.7 oz. (9.7 lbs.)||Total: 43.2 oz. (2.7 lbs.)|
- Tips for Driving User Adoption in New Technology Deployment Read this checklist on tips for driving user adoption to see where you stand.
- Deep Security +VMware vSphere with Operations Management Most midsize organizations are highly virtualized on VMware, and while this has produced significant savings, it also has created new challenges when it...
- Single-Vendor Security Ecosystems Offer Concrete Benefits Over Point Solutions IT security decision-makers from companies with 100 to 5,000 employees evaluates the current endpoint security solution market based on Forrester's own market data,...
- Best Practices for Security and Compliance with Amazon Web Services This paper will discuss what part of the shared responsibility equation customers are responsible for and what some of the recommended security practices...
- Business-driven data protection Setting up data protection infrastructures with your organizations' core mission or business in mind is key. In this webinar, the ARCserve team will...
- On-Demand Webinar: Mind the Gap! Watch the webinar featuring Bob Janssen, CTO and Co-Founder of RES Software, to start building a solid foundation for business and IT to... All Smartphones White Papers | Webcasts