I have always prided myself on my ability to capitalize on one mobile device that will serve all of my varied mobile computing purposes. I am in a great position to be able to put my hands on a large assortment of mobile devices and use that experience to pick the one mobile device that will fill all of my needs. The recent discussion about the "two laptop minimum" first got me thinking about my own mobile computing needs and if it’s time for me to make a change along those lines. That premise is that mobile devices are getting more capable and cheaper and that for some mobile workers it is actually more productive to have a larger laptop for serious work and a smaller, more mobile device for field work.
The recent evaluations I have conducted of the Celio Redfly, the HP Mini-Note and the Fujitsu P1620 (I bought that one) have really gotten my thinking process going in overdrive about my long-time philosophy of one tool for all the jobs. While that has served me well there is no question that in some areas any one given device requires compromise(s) to get the job done. One device might be sufficient to get a given task done but if the compromise is too great it can make the execution of that task more difficult than it could be. This has been driven home to me the past few weeks. I have used a single mobile device, most recently the Fujitsu P1620, for a long time. The P1620 is an outstanding Tablet PC which I need in my consulting work for taking gobs of notes and its small size makes it an extremely mobile workhorse for that task. The ability to swivel the screen around when confronted with the execution of writing assignments and I needed to type away meant that the Fuji was a good device to be the one device I use routinely.
Then I started evaluating the HP Mini-Note that is almost as mobile as the Fuji but has a much better (and larger) keyboard for those writing assignments. The ability to write gobs of prose on the Mini demonstrated to me first-hand how much I in fact compromise when I use the Fuji for that heavy writing. The Fuji is a much more powerful and full-featured device than the Mini but it doesn’t offer nearly as good an experience on writing assignments. There is no doubt in my mind that I am more productive with the HP Mini on those types of tasks, just as I have no doubt that the Fuji better serves my consulting note-taking needs. Sure the Fuji can do both types of tasks OK but I am not as good at some of them as I am with the HP. The fact that the HP is relatively cheap compared to the "all-in-one" devices like the Fuji means that I can have both tools in my kit and use the best tool for a given job in front of me. That is more productive and is easier on me too.
I have come very close to pushing the button to order an HP Mini-Note for this reason since the evaluation unit I have will go back to HP soon. I haven’t ordered one yet because until I send that one back there is no driving urgency to do so plus I think I’d prefer to order a Mini with XP installed which should be available next month. The likelihood is I will order a Mini, or something similar that comes along, so that I can use the right tool for the given job. These lower cost mobile devices are definitely causing me to change the way I think about how I approach my work. I’m probably not the only one in that regard.