Using mobile technology has turned me into a wimp

Using mobile technology has turned me into a wimp

Summary: A recent foray in the city carrying a big, heavy laptop was much harder than it should have been.

Tale of two bags
Tale of two bags -- Image credit: James Kendrick/ZDNet

I'm a mobile tech kind of guy, as anyone who follows my work here on ZDNet can attest. I have used thin, light laptops and tablets exclusively for my daily outings in the city for years. Carrying a work system that weighs more than three pounds is something I do rarely, if ever. The small size of my devices means the gear bags I carry are as little as can be. 

When I test a device sent to me by vendors I always put it through its paces by using it for its intended purposes. When I was recently sent a large 5.2 pound laptop to test that meant it had to come with me on a typical work outing across town. The heavy weight and large size of the laptop ended up demonstrating how much the small devices I normally use have left me out of shape to carry the big notebooks common not that long ago.

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I love how small my work gear has gotten as I live in the city and depend on walking for my primary transportation. I take the train when I need to go outside the downtown area and walk everywhere else. I do this almost every day, and usually I walk a few miles over the course of each work day.

This tiring day made me realize how my normal mobile gear has turned me into a wimp.

The morning I prepared for the outing with the big laptop started like any other day. I first grabbed the biggest gear bag I own to gather up the stuff I needed to carry. This bag isn't very big but it can carry any of the laptops I own that I use regularly. 

Unfortunately, the big laptop wouldn't fit in this bag. It was too long and too wide to fit the bag. I would have to find one of my old backpacks to carry this giant sucker.

It took me a while but I found a backpack in the back of a closet that was big enough to handle the laptop. The empty backpack weighs about five pounds and is a lot bigger than I remembered. A big backpack for a big laptop.

I loaded the laptop into the backpack along with the iPad mini, which I carry for use as a mobile hotspot should wi-fi not be available everywhere. I threw just a couple of other little things including earbuds into the backpack and headed out for the day.

I immediately had flashbacks to days gone by. The big backpack didn't sit right on my back and I was constantly having to adjust it as I walked the streets. The weight was a lot more than I am used to dealing with too, but the big pack was the primary cause of the discomfort I was feeling.

As I walked around town the bag sat lower and lower on my back, dragging me down more as the day wore on. Every time I stopped somewhere to work the bag seemed to get heavier. Taking the big laptop out to set up was harder to do each time.

I couldn't believe how wimpy I had become if this was so hard to do. People carry heavy bags like this every day so why was this so hard? By the end of the day I was actually dragging as I walked home with this monstrosity riding low on my back.

This tiring day made me realize how my normal mobile gear has turned me into a wimp. The entire day was spent hauling this heavy gear around and feeling the pain of the effort. Sure, the backpack was big but it wasn't that heavy. Yes, it was clumsy given its big size but it shouldn't have caused me such trouble.

The outing made me realize that my small, light gear has spoiled me. The devices I carry each day, whether a Windows 8 hybrid, Chromebook, or iPad with keyboard, are extremely thin and light. They fit in a gear bag so small I don't even notice it when carrying it around the city.

I was surprised how great an impact carrying a big, heavy backpack around town had on how I enjoyed my day, which was not much. Having a little bag with light gear inside makes my day pleasant, an unexpected benefit over the big gear of yesteryear. Yes, I have become a wimp as a result of the gear getting smaller, but given how capable my mobile gear is I'm OK with that.

Topics: Mobility, iPad, Laptops, Tablets

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  • I'm sure you remember...

    ... the early PC portables / luggables were the KayPro and Compac units and neither of us wants to return to the "good old days."

    Both of us will take the small and light of today and look forward to the smaller and lighter of tomorrow...

    Thanks, James

    "We have come far, pilgrim..." - from the movie 'Jeremiah Johnson'
    jmb codewriter
  • Yep

    After trying to survive with tablets for mobile computing over the past several years, I can honestly say that you better get used to carrying larger devices. I think the Tablet market will be pushed back to an accessory level as more and more people want more power from their mobile devices and touch screens become more prevalent.
    • Nope

      You're assuming tablets won't get more capable. I respectfully disagree.
      • Not with windoze 8 on them

  • We have all become wimps

    Nice article, James. So true.

    After a few years in engineering school, once I finally got my license at 17, I regularly drove alone from my parents home in New Jersey to school in Mass. I had no cell phone (nobody did). I just got in car (my very cheap and very unreliable car -- I was a broke college student) and drove.

    Now, I won't even drive 5 minutes to the local coffee shop without my phone (and often my other gear). We're connected all the time and in our minds, "just in case" seems to be something we constantly live with. Back then, "just in case" meant "we'll work it out".

    We were intrepid back then. We're connected now. Not sure which is ultimately better.

    David Gewirtz
  • For general health and life reasons....

    .... 5 lbs, that is a sign you need to consider your exercise activities.

    That light of weight should have been noticeable but not really a drag on you.

    Consider adding some weights/kettle bells to your work out routines. Your body will thank you, your children and grand children will be more likely to be able to thank you later on.
  • Really!

    Any tech reviewer who lost objectivity long back is already a wimp, nothing more to say.
  • man up

    i have an 8lb Sager gaming notebook that i rarely carry outside the house, but when i do-its not a problem.

    and now for some "TMI" - some girls boobs weigh more than 5 lbs
  • I still have my original IBM convertible...

    that I used in the Army, and lugged everywhere back then - fortunately I had a 2 and 1/2 Ton M35A3 truck to haul it around with! One thing about it though, it had a built in handle. I never needed to find a carrier like I did my huge Xerox 460C typewriter. That thing was truly a monster! I bought the biggest luggage bag I could find so I had a handle to carry that monstrosity, that only had 35k memory! That was why I needed the "laptop" to expand the capabilities of the old venerable memory writer. Together I was able to fully automate my office - even in the field!
  • its all in the bag

    The bag is what got you, not the weight of the laptop. Find the right bag for the intended load and use. As you noted it sagged down over time and wasn't stable. My 12 yr old daughter drags around a heavy laptop, but uses a (horrifically pink) large messenger bag with a wide shoulder strap.

    Even light loads carried improperly can and will wear you down and can even injure your back.