For quite a while now, I have been taking my trusty Macbook Pro everywhere I could. I always felt that there might be a time when I would need to pull my Macbook Pro out of my STM backpack in some public place to quickly work on a document or to write an urgent email or something. However, this scenario never eventuated. As it happened, most of the things that I needed to deal with on the run, were mostly emails that I could easily reply to using my Android phone.
As time went on, I realised that most of the places that I visit during my work routine allowed me computer access as well as wifi. After weaning myself off the laptop and the backpack idea, I slowly was able to go to work with just a USB stick and a portable Hard drive. Even though the phone was great for firing quick emails here and there, I felt that I needed something that could function like a computer if I needed it to, light enough to carry around all day and has the battery life to last all day.
Originally, my thoughts went straight to the iPad2. However, I soon realised that the iPad2 had quite limited utility for my purpose. Its lack of expansion options and the lack of USB ports and the marginally useful camera had pushed it down my list of tablets. The tablets that were near the top were the Asus Transformer TF101 and the Acer Iconia A500. After a few days of agony I decided to go with the Acer A500 simply because it had a full-size USB port which makes transferring files to a work computer a breeze.
A couple of years ago the top of the list would have been filled with netbooks, but after buying one which was bundled with a 3-cell battery (lasting a lengthy 1.5 hrs–I am looking at you HP), netbooks just didn’t do it for me anymore. I just found the idea of having to wait for a netbook to boot into either Linux or Windows XP kind of took up more time than the short task that you wanted to do with it in the first place. Plus, the short battery life on offer in the netbooks just did not fit into the idea of all day mobile computing. I decided to go with a tablet because of the instant-on nature of both Android and IOS.
A few days after I got the Acer tablet I decided to put it to work. I would go to work with my bag filled with the following items:
- USB stick to carry small files
- A Western Digital 1TB portable hard drive
- Acer tablet
- A Ricoh GX200 camera
- A USB to micro USB cable for transferring files
- A Huawei wifi modem for internet connectivity.
I would fit all the above items in a small shoulder bag which barely strains my shoulder.
After a few days, I found that I did not need a notebook at all. I found that my notebook was sitting idle for a few days, not seeing much use at all, other than for heavy-duty typing of documents. Even the USB stick was becoming marginally useful when I could use Google Docs to work on various files on the tablet and continue it on the desktop computer at work.
The only problem that I have encountered so far was the fact that one of my workplaces still used Internet Explorer 6 as the standard browser and that made me bring my notebook to work once a week to be able to edit files on Google Docs.
It’s good to travel light. Plus, Angry Birds and the comic reader software keep me entertained on long bus and train rides.