Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
July 4, 2009 4:58 PM

Netbooks Power The Ultimate Road Warriors

In a world where my office is more often than not an aisle seat at 35,000 feet, I spend my days trying to do more with less.

Ultraportable laptops make sense for someone like me. But while they're small, they lack the power and speed of standard laptops and desktop computers. And they can cost a whole lot more - sometimes even double the price of a regular laptop. Most business people are not willing to make the sacrifice.

So why bother?

For one thing, I get to lug around a lot less weight. For another, I've been through a slew of ultraportable laptops - from Toshiba and Sony to Lenovo and Dell - and all have managed to do what I've needed them to do (my current laptop is the Dell Latitude E4200). But as with all modern technology, no matter how often I back up the hard drive and archive my important information, I'm constantly haunted by the nagging fear that when I press the power button I'll get the dreaded blue screen of death.

Imagine spending up to $4,500 for a hot-looking ultraportable, and once the seat belt light goes off, you fire it up... and nothing. It's dead. Your documents, presentations and every other reason you boarded this flight in the first place are gone. Maybe you have a backup on a USB key. But what if you don't? Hopefully, you weren't waiting for the flight to get the actual work done. What if you could have a second laptop along for the trip that's lighter and smaller? And that costs about $300? I'm not making this up.

Say hello to the netbook.

Although netbooks have been around since 2007, they are just now starting to get the attention of the business traveller. And they should. Netbooks are simple, small and stripped-down laptops that look like toys but can complete serious tasks. They may not be as powerful as the average ultraportable, but the screen and keyboard are much smaller.

And there are other practical reasons to own one.

Instead of worrying about purchasing an entirely new computer for travel, you can transfer the documents you need over to your netbook prior to your trip and use it as your travel computer. Regardless of what you have at home, having a "clean" netbook enables you to avoid slowdowns, grief or embarrassment in front of potential clients or at security.

In the end, we're all looking to do more with less, and with the new grade of netbook computing, it's not only smart but economical to have one. Whether you use it as a backup or as your primary computing vehicle, you'll be that much closer to becoming the ultimate road warrior. 

The above posting is my monthly column for enRoute Magazine called, Ultraportable. I cross-post it here with all of the links and tags for your reading pleasure, but you can check out the original versions online here:

- enRoute Magazine - Little Mouse on the Prairie.

By Mitch Joel