A mobile office - is it possible?

Interesting filming this afternoon for a project on mobile working.

We were using a Sony Vaio TT laptop, nice and small and very light.

A Vodafone Mobile Connect dongle and a Blackberry.

My very quick initial impressions are that its dead easy to find a coffee shop and get on line.

You can hook up online pretty easily anywhere with the Vodafone dongle… outside although if its via GPRS its a much slower browsing experience and trains aren’t great.

Today I was only checking Twitter and tweeting…. I know I can do that without a laptop, but I can’t get web access on my Blackberry, so it was useful to see what was going on.

I posted tweets at St Pauls, on the top of a London bus to Victoria, sitting on a bench on the South Bank and in a coffee shop near Blackfriars.

I didn’t try and doing anything else that may have needed more broadband speed… as we were filming, so it wasn’t really appropriate.

I will try other things out at another time as I am interested about the idea of a mobile office and is it really possible.

The other point I would raise already is its the little things that bother you. For example the chair I’m sitting on in a the Blue Posts pub in Carnaby St now is too low for the desk and my back is already hurting. The table has one leg shorter than the others, which is also a tad annoying.

More on the Sony and others mobile thoughts later.  


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Your car or truck is a better mobile office than a coffee shop or pub. The seat is a lot more comfortable, you can choose the music, and your thermos or flask will keep you supplied with a favorite beverage. Add a TrulyGr8 Mobile Desk on your steering wheel and discover new territory in mobile productivity. This great new product is demonstrated on video, and available for purchase at wheeldesks.com
You are absolutley right about the frustratingly low speeds achievable through GPRS on Vodafone dongles and the vaguries of connecting on trains (especially in East Anglia). That said I work part time for several companies and have a 'career' that would have been impossible 10 years ago. I use a lightweight Toshiba laptop (R500) and a Nokia smartphone (E66) along with the aforementioned Vodafone dongle and find that I can easily keep in touch. What is more the compact nature of modern equipment makes everything very transportable, the only 'heavyweight' is the powersource, but running XP I can get around 5 hours off a single battery.
Take all your points on board James and yes it's so true that mobile working is now possible in ways we wouldn't have thought possible 10 years ago.

The technology will only improve and that will make mobile workers lives all the better, but its the little niggles that will continue to frustrate.

I note my seating position in a pub that gave me chronic back ache, but hey you can't have everything, and I guess I could have found another seat!

Thanks Larry - great point. I'll try the car and see whether I avoid the backache, I don't have a lorry, so I can't road test that one. Although my dad has a tractor, so I might give that a go!
It's definitely possible to have a mobile office, even without a laptop! With GoEverywhere's personal online webtop you get single login access to the documents and files you've uploaded, a variety of software titles, and all of your programs. And all you need is a computer with Internet access. Whether it's the library, a client's office space, or on vacation - you're easily connected.
Review: Samsung NC10 Netbook

The Samsung is a late entry into the crowded Netbook field, but it looks like the Samsung engineers studied the competition well. The NC10 is a great little machine that incorporates the positive features of most competing netbooks, while avoiding their weak spots.

The NC10 is extremely well put together. The keyboard is firm and responsive, with well-spaced keys that have a good amount of travel. The tactile feedback is great--in fact, they feel like a slightly smaller version of a really good ThinkPad keyboard. I've tried the keyboards on most of the current netbooks on the market, and the NC10 has the best one by a fair margin. The HP has larger keys, but their travel is more shallow, and the keys have no separation at all. The Acer Aspire One and MSI Wind have good keyboards, but they're just a hair too small to not feel like a compromise. The Asus Eee 901 has the same tiny keyboard as the 700 series, and it's too small to be truly useful. The Eee 1000 has a decent-sized keyboard, but the keys have less travel, and the keyboard flexes more than the ones on the Acer or MSI.

The Samsung gets the keyboard just right. It's 95% the size of a "normal" laptop keyboard, the keys have a great feel to them, and working on the NC10 doesn't feel cramped at all. In addition, the Shift keys aren't abbreviated (a common netbook design shortcoming), the arrow and PgUp/PgDn keys are not weirdly arranged or taking away space from other keys, and the keyboard is firm and rock-solid when typing.

The screen is just a little bigger than the one on the Acer, and the same diagonal size as the screens on the MSI Wind and Asus Eee 1000. The quality of the screen is better than the ones on the other netbooks--Samsung makes its own LCDs, and their display expertise shows. The Samsung LCD is LED-backlit, the lighting is uniform with no blotching, and the brightness is incredible when turned up to 100%. In addition, the NC10 has a matte screen, which is a huge advantage over the glossy screens employed by many other netbooks. The NC10 is perfectly usable outside or in a brightly lit room.

One of the many design features that make the Samsung such a well-rounded package is the battery. Samsung provides a 6-cell, 5200mAh battery as standard equipment, and the battery life is outstanding as a result. I routinely get seven hours (!) out of the NC10, and that's with WiFi enabled, and the screen brightness set to one notch above minimum. That kind of battery life means that you can realistically operate away from an outlet all day long. A netbook's greatest strength is the superior mobility, and crippling that aspect by packaging it with a three-cell battery that lasts only two and a half hours at best is pretty much a deal breaker. The Samsung seems expensive compared to the three-cell equipped Asus and Acer models, but when you price a larger battery for those, the price gap shrinks considerably. The Samsung's six-cell battery also doesn't protrude very much from the casing, unlike the wheel chock that is a MSI Wind with the optional six-cell battery installed.

The NC10 runs exceptionally quiet and cool. The fan kicks in very occasionally, but it's so quiet that you have to lift the machine to your ear and listen for it. The underside of the NC10 gets hand-warm at most. My MacBook with its C2D processor can get very hot on the bottom (not exactly a bad feature in the winter, actually), but the Samsung is never uncomfortable on the lap even after an hour or two of lap-based work.

The Samsung NC10 has a very handsome finish that absolutely will not show fingerprints. The white machine is more silvery-white than the pictures suggest--it's kind of a pearlescent white. The surface texture is very slightly rough, and you won't be able to see smudges on it. Most Netbooks are fingerprint magnets, especially the Acer Aspire One and the HP MiniNote, but the Samsung designers were smart enough to realize that a netbook gets handled a lot and therefore may need an outer shell that doesn't look like an FBI crime lab desk after a few hours of use.

The port complement is standard netbook stuff: three USB ports, a LAN port, a VGA port, and headphone and microphone jacks. A nice design touch is the labeling of the ports: their labels are printed unobtrusively on the keyboard deck, right by the edges, so you don't have to turn the NC10 on its side to find the right plug. There's also an SD card slot on the right front edge, and a battery of status lights on the left front edge. The edge of the lower body is finished with a faux-chrome strip which adds a bit of class to the look and breaks up the monochromatic color scheme. Lastly, there's a surprisingly good 1.2MP webcam built into the top of the LCD lid. It works great in Skype and Google Chat--in fact, the image quality especially in low light is better than that of the much bigger Labtec on my desktop PC.

The NC10 comes with a generous 160GB HD loaded with XP Home. The setup portion that starts when you first turn on the NC10 lets you choose a partition scheme without making you re-install the provided XP install, which is very nice. You can choose to utilize the entire drive for XP, split the drive into two partitions for dual-boot setups, or set it up any way you want. Samsung included both an XP restore and a NC10 drivers CD for rebuilding the machine if needed, and the partition assistant at the start of setup also offers to set up automatic backups to a restore partition if desired. Samsung has bundled a good backup/restore agent with the NC10 that lets you set up a schedule for backing up your stuff to either the internal restore partition, or an external HDD. There's no crapware that comes with the Samsung, just a clean XP install with a few Samsung utilities like the backup agent.

Performance is very snappy for such a low-powered system. With the stock 1GB, the NC10 feels plenty zippy. Just for giggles, I loaded World of Warcraft--Wrath of the Lich King on my NC10, and I was surprised to find that it actually runs fairly well. You won't be doing any raiding or large instance groups with it, but it's more than adequate for some casual grinding or bank/AH business. Frame rate in Stormwind is 8-20FPS, and 4-8FPS in Dalaran. (That's at native 1024x600 resolution, and all details on low.) It's not a top-notch gaming rig, of course, but it's kind of fun to see the game actually run at somewhat playable frame rates on the little netbook.

The integrated WiFi card is reliable, offers long WiFi range, and hasn't dropped a connection on me yet. The mouse pad is small, but has the buttons in the proper place: underneath the pad, not on either side. The sensitivity of the Synaptics pad is fine, and there's a download that enables two-finger scrolling for added convenience.

All in all, the Samsung NC10 is a supremely balanced package that has no obvious weak spots. It has the best keyboard of all the devices in its class, seven-hour battery life, a high-quality matte LCD, well thought-out case design, and superior build quality. (Some people have complained about the build quality on here, but I've handled just about all the current netbooks, and I think that most of them feel far more flimsy than the NC10 does.) Its combination of great features and well thought-out design solutions make it the best netbook on the market at the moment, and well worth the small premium you'll have to shell out over an Acer, Asus, or HP netbook.