How to Use Your Laptop Outside

One of the great attractions of web work is supposed to be the ability to work anywhere, right? And now that we’re at the height of summer, the urge is strong to charge up the laptop and head to the beach or the mountains or even the local park and set up outdoors, enjoying the sun while billing some poor office-bound client your full hourly rate. What could be better than touching up your tan while you work?

If you’ve ever tried this, you know immediately what could be better: being able to actually see your laptop screen, that’s what. Laptops are great for many things, but visibility in bright sunlight is not one of their high points. Over my years of mobility, I’ve tried a bunch of things to get around this, and collected ideas from others. If you insist on going out to work, try some or all of these potential solutions to see what you’re doing:

  • Work under an awning or umbrella.
  • Wear a baseball cap, cowboy hat, or other cap with a brim, pulled low to put your eyes in shadow.
  • Wear polarized sunglasses.
  • Equip your laptop with an anti-glare screen. (The last time I tried this, a few years back, I couldn’t actually find any that worked, but perhaps the technology has improved.)
  • Equip your laptop with a sunshade. You can buy a commercial version or spend a few minutes with a big piece of cardboard and some tape to make your own.
  • Take frequent breaks to look away from the screen to ease your eyestrain.
  • Give up, have a beer, and decide that the summer sun is more important than work. You probably need to stop billing in this case, though.

If you’ve got another solution to using a laptop out in the summer sun, we’d love to hear it!

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