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Thoughts From the Road: Office in a Bag

I am working in the press room — sorry, the media room — at the Freescale Technology Forum in Orlando. I will be sitting on a panel discussing the consumer mobile tech space later today, but right now I have to make a living. The Wi-Fi is fast and the room is almost empty so I have the whole place to myself. The trip has been a good one so far, and that is due to the small but effective tool kit I brought along.

My little backpack has an entire business office inside, and that consists of only three pieces of gear. The 13-inch MacBook (s aapl) is here and running the show as it usually does. The small size makes this a very portable notebook, yet without compromises given its power. I do have a second battery in a pocket of the bag just in case. I guess that makes four pieces of gear.

Accompanying the MacBook in the bag is the iPad (Wi-Fi only), which has been a jack-of-all-trades so far on the trip. I used it in the airport waiting for my flight to Orlando (which was delayed over an hour) for some online work. I read an e-book on the iPad almost the entire flight using the Kindle app. While reading the book I was listening to my vast iTunes music collection (yes it can multitask the iPod app). It was a very enjoyable flight.

I have been using the iPad as a second display on the MacBook with Air Display. This has increased my productivity during those sessions and at virtually no cost. It hardly hits the battery on the iPad and the MacBook plugs along as it does with out the second monitor. I have shown this in action to some attendees at the conference and this absolutely blows them away. It is truly game changing for road warriors.

The last piece of gear in the bag hasn’t actually been in the bag, it’s been in my shirt pocket. The HTC EVO 4G has been the most heavily used piece of kit so far this trip. I’ve grabbed it to work with my email on the fly, get online to check up on things and of course to tweet stuff. Most importantly, it has served as a mobile hotspot in the hotel since the Wi-Fi costs $10 per day. When are hotels going to stop this nonsense? Internet connectivity is now a requirement, people. Not an option.

There is no 4G coverage on the Sprint network in Orlando, or anywhere in Florida for that matter. The 3G coverage is excellent with full bars and it is nice and fast. Piping it out to the iPad and MacBook is as simple as turning the mobile hotspot on. It has worked perfectly and I do believe the Sprint Overdrive modem will be getting terminated pretty soon.

I have always tried to travel with a small, light kit that doesn’t compromise on capability. This particular kit has already proven to achieve that goal, and admirably. Oh, BTW, there have been no battery issues on the EVO 4G.

Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub. req’d): Are You Empowering Your Mobile Work Force?

12 Responses to “Thoughts From the Road: Office in a Bag”

  1. Interesting article, but one glaring question (at least to me). Why aren’t you using an iPhone? Surely it would pair with the rest of your Apple products easier?

  2. Carlos

    After playing around with a friends iPad for a while, I have been contemplating buying an iPad of my own. However, as a college student, my main interest in it lies in its potential as a notebook (the paper kind) replacement. I frankly am tired, of carrying around countless notebooks. I looked around the App Store and found a few apps that offer this, “Smartnote” being my favorite one.

    I however can not make my mind up about the virtual keyboard, I would love your suggestion as well as other commenters on its potential as a note taking device. To be clear, by notes I mean a few paragraphs here and there, sentences, vocabulary and such, NOT full blown essays. Do you guys think as its worth me getting one, for those purposes?

  3. Interesting, with the exception of the EVO 4G you carry the same stuff I do. I’ve given up on the Kindle DX and find that I can travel for a week on a battery on the iPad.

    I’ve recently upgraded my macbook to a 13″ macbookpro and got the SSD with it. It makes a world of difference in how the little macbookp runs.

    Can you comment on the stand/case for the ipad and how you like it?


  4. Scotty

    “When are hotels going to stop this nonsense? Internet connectivity is now a requirement, people. Not an option.” probably about the same time the airlines quit fooling around tacking on charges for carry on’s, checked bags, meals …. which is to say when both industries quit flirting with bankruptcy with their existing business models.

    Your other option with the Overdrive is to get someone to take over your contract. No ETF then. I hear Craigslist is a popular meat market for that kind of thing.

    My EVO 4G battery dips drastically when I leave the 4G on whilst in motion (e.g. on the bus.) I asked the local Sprint folks and they hummed and hawed and said the 4G network wasn’t built out for being in motion. Apparently Starbucks and desks are more it’s speed. It’s about a 40 minute bus ride home and my battery takes a 20% hit if I’m iPadding away with it on the ride home. If I turn off the 4G it sips on the battery, about a 5% hit.

  5. Charlie Thomas

    Just remember to watch out for the thunderstorms James, surges can make a mess of pluged in equipment. Your’re probably used to this type of weather though as close to the gulf as Houston is. As a matter of fact I think I better shut down now, lighting is just cranking up outside. Welcome of Orlando.

  6. The $10 wifi thing is all economics:

    Head to a Days Inn or Quinta Inn and you’ll be surfing free internet in no time. Go to a Hilton or Westin and $10 is going to sound nice as they generally run as high as $25 a day.

    Families on a budget are typically staying at the budget motels and wouldn’t spend money under any circumstances on something like wifi, so why charge?

    On the other hand, business travelers and the wealthy tend to head to the luxury hotels for business meetings and conferences. They probably wouldn’t think twice about tossing that $10-25 charge on the expense account.

    This will probably change as more people get tech like the MiFi and EVO. I’m sure corporate spending cut-backs by businesses will probably help too.