Using the right mobile tool for the job, it's a personal thing

Using the right mobile tool for the job, it's a personal thing

Summary: Mobile workers have a lot of choice when it comes to tools to use, and what works for one may not work well for another.


Mobile devices are as powerful as computers of old that filled entire rooms. That is true from the lowliest smartphone on the market to the thinnest laptop. Choosing which mobile device to use for a given task is no longer a function of just getting one that can handle the job. It comes down to personal preference as much as anything, and the ability to work where and how the individual prefers.

That wasn't always the case, and not that long ago. Years ago I remember the never-ending quest to find the most portable device of the time that could still handle all that I needed to do on a regular basis. Laptops were big things to lug around regularly, so I constantly experimented with using other types of devices to get stuff done.

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I was not alone in that quest, I remember corresponding with a novelist in the UK who hated dragging the laptop around just in case he needed to write. He tried all sorts of gadgets that failed in one way or another, and eventually settled on using his Windows Mobile PDA with a portable folding keyboard.

His criteria were simple -- he needed to have the tools with him all the time. It needed to have good battery life to last all day and he wanted to just pull it out and get working with no fuss.

While that method wouldn't be good for most folks, this guy spent hours all over the world writing several novels with the phone/ keyboard combination. His reasoning was simple -- he never knew when a writing opportunity would present itself, and he needed to be sure he had the tools at hand when it did. The PDA and folding keyboard fit in his shirt pocket, so that's what he used.

The mobile worker of today has much better choices, and that complicates finding the right method. Some folks need a full laptop all the time, and the highly portable netbook fills that need. The new Ultrabooks coming to market are a good fit for those folks, too.

Others, and I am in that camp, find tablets to be a good tool for mobile work. They are thin and light enough to be highly portable, so they can meet the "at hand" need when work opportunities present themselves. Some tablet users find the onscreen keyboard to be all they need for working, so the tablet alone is just right.

Tablets are a personal thing, and fortunately there are all sizes available to fit the individual. The 5-inch Galaxy Note may be all some folks need, but for those wanting a bigger screen there are plenty to choose from. The key is to try several first-hand and see what works best.

Some of us pair a portable keyboard with the tablet, and that's just fine. It comes down to personal preference, and what makes it easier to get work done wherever (and whenever) the opportunity presents itself. As that novelist told me years ago, the best tool for the job was the one he has with him at the time. All other criteria fall by the wayside if the tools are back at home.

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Topics: Laptops, CXO, Hardware, Mobility, Tablets, IT Employment

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  • Well said...

    [i]Mobile workers have a lot of choice when it comes to tools to use, and what works for one may not work well for another.[/i]

    Needed to be said. So many of us instead try push our personal/professional needs and wants onto others as though we are all the same, performing the same tasks, and requiring the same tools. If a tablet device such as the iPad with an attached portable keyboard works for you or the novelist on the road, who are we to tell you otherwise? That a netbook or PC would work better?
    • BECAUSE I KNOW BETTER!!!! How can you not see this!

      I know what you should use! I know what you should like, and better still I know what you should dislike!!! To go against my knowledge is to mark oneself a FOOL!!!

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
      • That Pagan Jim is a fool, I KNOW BETTER!!

        Don't I ?
  • A lot of choices

    And it is always changing.
    At this time the solution thatworksnbest for me is an ASUS Transformer plus keyboard dock. With the flexibility, detachable keyboard and extra battery life it matches my portable needs.
  • I think it goes beyond just personal choice

    Mobile devices for me have to be able to get the job done, so in my case features and functionality are what come first. There's little point getting a sexy device just because it looks cool... only to find out that it doesn't do what I need it to.

    Put it another way - if slates did what I needed to, I'd be using one, keyboard and all. But they don't, so my preferred tool continues to be the netbook. More of a necessity than choice.
    • What if the sexy/cool (Are we talking about me here?)

      device does what you require? Would it be on the list of devices that you consider? I don't buy Apple cause it's sexy nor cool (I'm plenty of that). I get the Apple devices I use because they do work for me and do what I require.

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
      • It takes a true idiot . . .

        . . . . who thinks that people buy devices only because of sexiness or coolness.
  • The right tool for the right job

    Well said and very unbiased.
    • And, a tool for the sexy cool

      When you say tool....
  • Good article

    One of the few, truly unbiased pieces I have seen on the matter without dragging in the whole platform supremacy contest.
  • Right tools for the job

    Evaluate your tasks and see if there are apps which can fulfill them. Having a keyboard helps too. Software such as pocketcloud and thinserver xp helps a lot
  • all it says is

    'It depends'. This is truly hard to argue, but what was the point of writing it?