Weekend Discussion: Your Advice for New Mobile Warriors

Here’s the deal: you are at party doing the normal chit-chat, when the topic starts to change to what people do for a living, etc. You hear someone mention that they are starting a new business that will put them on the road a lot more and they need help sorting a bunch of stuff out. They will be buying a new notebook, new phone, new software, etc. They have no idea how how this email syncing stuff works, where will he host his email, where to even begin on the quest to buy a notebook (Mac or PC, and which brand / model?), should they get a Blackberry or an iPhone, what about getting online while on the road, backups, etc.   This person is not tech savy at all, and generally will not have access to a “Tech Support Department”

What advice would would you give them?

4 Comments

  1. Dave P

    11/08/2008 at 11:48 am

    I would start with two givens. First, the computer needs to run Windows. On good days, I hate Microsoft, but if you want a wide range of software and the ability to interact with a wide range of other computers, Windows is the way to go. Similarly, in order to stay connected in more places, 3G is essential; Wi-Fi just doesn’t cut it.

    For serious computing, I’d recommend 3G on the computer (either embedded or via a USB device). Embedded is sleeker but it does tie you more to a carrier (as Sprint tanks, I wonder how long my EVDO will have a network to connect to). Once you go with a PC 3G connection, the phone becomes minor. A low end, semi-smart or even dumb phone is sufficient.

    For the PC< I’d recommend some sort of tablet for the ability to take notes in ink and the marketing factor of being able to draw on presentations or documents as you are reviewing them with a client.

    If the job involves standing and working outside of an office I’d look at a slate with an integrated handle like the Motion F5. If it involves a lot of data entry in conference rooms or cubicles, I’d look at a convertible like the Lenovo X200. If it involves interaction with executives or anyone who is wowed by the latest technology, you can’t beat my OQO 02/e2.

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  2. Talbott Young

    11/08/2008 at 5:40 pm

    The answer depends on what you are really going for. I travel internationally alot and I try to travel as light as possible. Agree with the tablet unless you can get by, by just accessing your email’s web client. I am basically paperless with with MS one note. I do not carry paper with me when I travel, no notebook no nothing. I will carry an index card(s) in my pocket because there will be a case where your batteries are dead and you need to write something else down. The other thing I have is a (fujitsu)scansnap 510 scanner that scans docs right to PDF so I can always see documents I need without having the paper. So when I get home every week or so I scan any paper I picked up and then shred it.

    As far as the phone, I prefer Windows Mobile phones. I have never used a blackberry, but there seems to be a very devout following. I would get a phone that has GPS and Maps either available or built in. I have a great garmin GPS with blue tooth that is good but it would be better if my phone had that capability.
    Also if you travel overseas, you should take a look at the Archos Web tablet 7 and load it up with Skype or Vonage Companion. It can really cut down on your US mobile roaming charges (especially the vonage) skype has started charging for non skype calls. While I don’t believe this is available yet, the specs on the web site posted include a 320 g hard drive which between music and video can really add to your entertainment options for long flights. In addition, if you have a web client for your email, you can ditch the PC altogether.

    I am also a gamer and have to carry a big honking laptop with an nvidia graphics card to play the games I like. So much for traveling light.

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  3. Stuart

    11/10/2008 at 3:52 pm

    I agree with much of what Dave P said above. Internal 3G with Gobi will allow all the choice of all the major telcos as well easy switching. Some of them even include internal GPS which can be a huge help for the traveler. I also think a semi-rugged (HP, Dell, Thinkpad) or fully-rugged laptop (like Panasonic CF-30 or CF-19 tablet) would be necessary. All that travel is bound to cause bumps and falls and if all your work is on the laptop you need it to keep working. That would make calling Tech Support less important.

    For backups I suggest a unique solution, having a media-bay drive as a real hot-swappable option in case of catastrophic failure or super-nasty virus. It can be the default drive in the boot sequence when it is inserted. For regular backup I would suggest Acronis TrueImage.

    I believe a phone should basically be a phone but if he uses exchange then a blackberry would be a good device if he always has to check his email. A phone with GPS or removable storage that can double as a cheap music player and camera is a nice extra.

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