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You Can Take It With You

November 29th, 2010 - 12:10 pm

Portable computing is finally, truly portable, says Tech Crunch reporter John Biggs. Read:

Ignoring the odd gaming laptop fanatics, portable devices in general came in two sizes: big enough to hurt you while racing for your flight and big enough to replace your boat anchor in a pinch and they were very expensive. This also reduced the desire in the average user to buy a powerful laptop and led us to the dark period known as the netbook revolution when laptop owners, seeing these amazingly thin yet underpowered devices, thought they could get something done with them. Sadly, the confluence of power, usability, and cloud interconnection only just really meshed recently. Except for the underpowered netbook, there was nothing that you could carry that could get most of your work done with minimal fuss.

Now, however, we’ve entered an interesting period in portability. Devices that were once too underpowered to be useful – namely tablets and cellphones – are becoming true assets and because most work is now on the cloud, we can get away with only carrying a tablet to a sales meeting. This doesn’t mean that devices like the iPad and the Galaxy Tab can replace a full laptop. However, they can act as word processors, presentation editors, and spreadsheet noodling devices in a pinch.

This is exactly right. My iPad has, for almost every use, replaced my aging white plastic MacBook. Serious work I do on my desktop machine, unless I’m on the road. In that case, I bring the iPad, it’s tiny power adapter, and a near-weightless Bluetooth keyboard. The keyboard and adapter go in my luggage, since a fully-charged iPad will keep me working (and entertained) all the way to London or Tokyo.

It gets better. My iPad usually lives in a little leather case with enough slots for credits cards and travel documents. So unless I’m going on a quickie overnight trip, that little leather case and its contents are now my only carry-on items.

Ever made your way through a busy airport, carrying nothing more than that? Open the case to show the terminal security officer your ID and boarding pass. Toss it into a gray plastic x-ray bin along with your shoes and jacket. Whip the Amex out of it to pay for in-flight cocktails. The only cables you carry are the ones attached to your earbuds.

It’s liberating. And, as Biggs says, truly portable.

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