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Summary:

Today’s smartphones are full mobile computers, and can handle most functions needed on a short outing. I still find myself asking if I should bring a computer on such trips, in case the phone is not enough should an unexpected work opportunity present itself.

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The capabilities of smartphones have grown astronomically over the past few years, to the point they are full handheld mobile computers. Phones can access the web, interact with social networks, check the news and even function as GPS navigation devices. These little gadgets can do almost everything one could want. This is a good thing, but every time I am heading out the door for an appointment, I need to ask myself if this is good enough, or should I bring a computer with me?

This is not always easy to answer, as I have long brought a computer with me on every trip out the door. I am a firm believer in having the right tool in hand should the need arise, and that’s a hard habit to break. I am fortunate in that I often have all sorts of computers at hand to take on short outings. There are always little laptops, UMPCs, slates, well you get the picture. I can usually grab a small, light package to take with me.

The fact of the matter is — today’s smartphones are almost always capable enough to meet the challenges of these outings. I am finding that more and more I bring a computer in the bag, but the phone is what gets used. I can do everything I need, with the exception of blogging, and that’s where my dilemma lies. If I don’t bring a computer, and find myself stuck with a bunch of free time, then I can’t get any “real” work done. Sure, I can surf the web, tweet to the masses, check my RSS feeds and just about everything else. But it’s that inability to blog that leaves me wishing I had a computer.

How about you? Do you always bring a computer with you for short outings, or is the phone enough? If you just bring the phone with you, do you ever regret not having the computer? Maybe it’s just me, but I’d like to hear if others have the same dilemma when heading out the door.

Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

Does Connectivity Have Us Diverging From Convergence?

  1. I just got my Palm Pre+ on Verzion. I find that I need a computer less and less now because of the web browsers of most smartphones. I use Google Docs a lot and can use them on my Pre. The only thing I find difficult to do on any smartphone is a lot of typing because of the small keyboard. For the most part, my Pre is all I need. If I think I might need to do more typing, or I’m going to work on a presentation, then I’ll bring my Acer One netbook. It’ really rare, like never, that I would actually bring my regular laptop out of the house.

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  2. Honestly, the only thing I use my computers for these days is media (I use Windows Media Center rather than a DVR, and also use it for music and pictures), internet browsing (particularly when I’ll be opening a ton of tabs at once), and tablet functionality (OneNote, PDF annotation, etc.)

    Everything else is done via my Pre, including 99.9% of email, all IM, quick searches when I’m curious about something, etc.

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  3. I move from client site to client site so I always have my Macbook Pro with me. I also carry two phones (Storm, iPhone). I’m trying to get used to the idea of just carrying my phone with me but it’s not easy. I’m afraid my client will send something to me that my phone can’t open or I have to respond something and can’t look at it on a phone.

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  4. Considering that the latest Fujitsu UH900 easily fits in a jacket pocket, taking a computer along for some might be as normal as throwing on your watch every morning. Content creation usually requires a good keyboard and large screen, hence a PC. But I’ve found even for movie watching a 8″ netbook screen leaves far less eyestrain for example than a 3″ phone display.

    I’ve seriously been contemplating moving over to a UH900, going prepaid and signing up for Boingo. I’d save a ton on voice costs, get fast data with no caps, get access to what I do on my smartphone, run the same professional apps I use on my home PC and have the ability to create content on the go. Forgetting the need for any case, considering the size, weight, usability and portability I’d win, that’s not a bad deal at all.

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  5. James would the best option not be to have a little bluetooth keybord with you that you could fold up and put in a jacket pocket for the times when you have to do some serious typing on the run.

    I find that my Nokia E63 suits me for most of the typing and doc viewing I need to do but I do understand the wish to be able to type more (or in your case blog). Can you update your blog via a smart phone if the need arises?

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  6. Like James I use the devices that best for the given task. I’m a student therefore get a lot of powerpoint presentations where I grab my U810 or Samsung Q1P for these days. Some other classes or days require note taking so then I decide to just bring the windows phone in combination with my Celio Redfly and got the best of both worlds. It depends on the situation as right now I’m typing this post on Celio. I do wish arm computers will get powerful soon so I can upgrade my Phone to something with a projector. I would still like the cellphone to pair with a redfly device but it looks like they are very slow to support other Operating systems. I want to try Android OS but would like it to be supported by Celio redfly.

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  7. am currently using an iphone 3GS as a netbook substitute and it’s good enough for the odds and ends that i tend to indulge in while on-the-go: surfing, checking emails, listening to music, short blog posts etc.

    something like the UMID might fill the space between my phone and my desktop for working on-the-go though.

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