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Becoming a Mobile Platform Agnostic



Rob Bushway Editorial
It wasn’t too long ago that I viewed mobility primarily through a Microsoft lense: smartphones, PDAs, mobile computers, web services, application software, etc. However, as I’ve been experimenting with different stuff the past year, I have found myself becoming more and more mobile platform agnostic, and as a result, I’ve grown in my appreciation for the diversity in the platforms available to us.

As most of our readers know, I’ve been using a Mac on and off for several years.  I consider that a good thing, in that it lets me approach the products I review on GBM from a more independent perspective. I’ve never hidden the fact that I like using Apple products. I can’t explain why, but I feel more creative when interacting with OS X. Maybe it’s the single mouse button, or the different command keys, or the folder hierarchy — I don’t know what it is, but it’s true. I’ve also been honest about frustrations I’ve had with some of their products, like the MacBook Pro . The MacBook, though, is a different story — it doesn’t burn my legs, the screen is beautiful, and it is pretty darn light for a 2.16 ghz Core 2 Duo 13” laptop.

I used to have Parallels installed on my Mac devices, but not any longer. I’ve isolated my Windows software to the Tablet PCs that I happen to be using at the time, which is currently an OQO Model 02 and an evaluation Lenovo X61 Tablet PC .

I love using my Tablet PCs, and I will never move away from that platform — there are things I can do on a Tablet PC, especially a highly mobile one like the OQO, that I can’t do on any other platform: ink a document, ink a mindmap, take searchable handwritten notes, get online lickety-split, etc. There will always be at least one Tablet PC in my mobile arsenal — I couldn’t be a productive mobile professional without one.

I’ve also taken quite a liking to the Nokia N800 Internet Tablet for times that even the OQO is too big and noisy. For an internet connectivity device on the go, it can’t be beat. It is truly pocketable, the applications look and run great, touch is well executed, and the contributors at continue to crank out some great software. I can get online with ease using WiFi or a Bluetooth tether to my LG phone. I can check my email, read my feeds through Google Reader, Skype with a friend,  IM through Messenger, post an entry to GBM news, and post in our forums — all on the N800. I could use a Windows based UMPC for this, but in my opinion, Nokia has this whole experience down better. Nokia is doing a lot of things really well, and I am sure we are getting just an inkling of what they have in store for us.

I can work on the platform I choose, using the applications and experiences that excel on each. Since I’m using the OQO quite frequently at client sites and often need to email them a bill on the fly, I’ve got QuickBooks isolated to my OQQ, as well as various Windows programming utilities and languages. I’ve got Office 2007 on the OQO and Office 2004 on my MacBook for seamless document exchanges using Foldershare. Dreamweaver, Flash, and MindManager are totally Mac, as well as my graphic editing. All of my email and PIM data is currently being handled through Gmail ( yes, I’ve gone back to using Gmail ). Tasks and projects are being handled by MindManager for the Mac.

What has encouraged this more platform independent approach to mobility? First, it is good to be honest and recognize that some things just run better on other platforms and it is ok to isolate tasks to those specific platforms. Being a productive mobile professional means being able to look at problems and find the best way to solve those problems given your particular needs and desires. Sometimes that means implementing a single platform solution. Other times, it might require broadening out and using disparate platforms. Second, the internet and its vast array of services have given me the tools necessary to experiment, broaden those horizons, and find what works best for me. I can keep up with my Google Reader subscriptions wherever I am and on whatever machine I find myself on at the time; I can instant message with my Messenger contacts on either the OS X based Mac, a Vista based OQO, or the Nokia N800; and I can keep up with my email with whatever device I happen to be using at the time.

So, in my mobile toolkit right now are three devices: a MacBook, an OQO Model 02, and a Nokia N800 Internet Tablet. My “Go Back and Get It Device” is either the N800 or the OQO Model 02, depending on the situation and where I’m going. The best machine for the job, for me, is found in the particular strengths each brings to the table and how well they all let me work with the data I need at the time.

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