The minimalist mobile approach: Use only what you really need

Summary:Having spent thousands of hours using every type of mobile equipment out there I have come to realize there is no point to implementing more resources than I really need.


I have been using mobile gear in my work for over a decade, and have come to embrace a philosophy of only using gadgets that do just what I need. I no longer worry about having devices that can handle every situation that may infrequently arise. I find the best fit for me is to use just enough mobile tech to get the job done and no more.

I am not suggesting that everyone should go small or go home, just that it may be a good idea to give this some thought.

This is why the Samsung Series 5 550 Chromebook works so well for me in spite of what others might think. I've been told by some bright people in the industry that using a Chromebook is settiling for a "crap tool" compared to more full-featured alternatives. That may seem true on the surface but the fact is using solutions that do just what I need and no more means I don't sacrifice anything by going "bigger".

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Gadgets with a limited focus are invariably more portable than full-featured alternatives. That means smaller, lighter in the bag, and that usually means better battery life. It almost certainly means a much cheaper price tag such as the new Samsung Chromebook at $249.

Sure there are high-powered Ultrabooks out there and those are great solutions for many. They are overkill for my needs based on lots of actual experience. There is no need for a $1,000 laptop when a cheaper Chromebook does everything I need.

I am not suggesting that everyone should follow my lead, but I do think that most people would be surprised to find how little they actually need most of the time. I believe many folks could get by following a minimalist philosophy as I do, and better than they think they could.

Mobile solutions such as tablets, Chromebooks, and the Surface RT can probably meet the needs of many users. No, they can't handle absolutely every computing need but they can handle the daily needs of many quite handily. If others embrace the "lighter is better" approach they may be surprised to discover that these mobile solutions can do far more than they realize.

I frequently use tablets for getting work done, both with and without external keyboards. They are sufficient for many of my work sessions which makes them a solid minimalist solution. I couldn't do that for extended periods, however, as they don't handle everything I need to do all of the time. That's where a "larger" solution like a Chromebook comes into play which can handle everything I need over time.

I am not suggesting that everyone should go small or go home, just that it may be a good idea to give this some thought. Mobile gadgets are now extremely powerful and useful compared to those of the not-too-distant past so don't overlook the possibility of the minimalist mobile approach. You may be surprised at what will work, and at how little is really required to get stuff done.

Topics: Mobility, Laptops, Tablets


James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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