A couple of weeks ago, I took the family on a trip to New York City. We got a pretty good deal on travel in the form of a package deal from Hotwired.com that included four round-trip tickets and two hotel rooms for about $600 per person for a four-night, five-day visit. The purpose of the trip was to attend a family event, see relatives and friends, and spend a bit of time in the city.
The package included two rooms at the Hudson Hotel, conveniently located at Columbus Circle and Broadway, right at the southern end of Central Park. If you're not familiar with the city, this is a pretty central location with easy access to the subway, cabs, Times Square, and the Upper West Side where the events were held.
The Hudson is a pretty trendy spot with a very loud, boisterous nightlife scene centered around a very attractive indoor/outdoor garden lobby space. The rooms are... well to call them small would be charitable. Reminiscent of the dorm-style Euro hotels, they're fine for a single person and very, very intimate for two. Wireless access was an additional fee and pretty spotty.
Which leads to the point of this post. Although I did take the MacBook along for the trip, once I saw the close quarters and realized that connectivity was going to be intermittent at best, I made what for me is a pretty radical decision and decided to do the entire trip using the Nokia N95 "handheld multimedia computer" (AKA smartphone) and N800 internet tablet as my principle means of staying connected to e-mail, IM, RSS, and blogging. All but the last were an unqualified success and the only reason blogging failed was that I simply didn't have time to do any writing.
The Nokia devices performed flawlessly. I got a good solid signal everywhere in the city (T-Mobile) and was able to use WiFi in the Starbucks down the street from the hotel in the mornings when I made my coffee and chai run. I was able to keep up with mail using the Gmail client on the N95 and the e-mail application and browser on the N800 for Gmail and company IMAP mail. Paired with my trusty Stowaway Bluetooth keyboard, I was able to pop off messages as needed.
Although I know my way around Manhattan pretty well, I did use the N95's built-in GPS to get oriented a couple of times and it worked like a charm (although GPS usage dramatically impacts battery life). Google Maps also worked as expected on both the Nokia devices and it was this app (as well as the multimedia applications) that really showed off the advantages of a phone with a display that can be used in both portrait and landscape orientations.
I used the Ultimate Ears super.fi Pro 5 earbuds to listen to MP3 and streaming music, podcasts, and video on both devices with the amazing sound quality and noise isolation I've come to expect form these earbuds and used the Plantronics 510 Bluetooth headset for cellular, Skype (via Fring on the N95) and Gizmo (on the N800) calls.
The entire kit fit into my coat pockets or a small gear bag and was so much easier to carry around the city than a laptop.
This is the new mobile office.