Mobile electronic devices have gotten smaller and more sophisticated, and there are many types that are suited for both business and leisure travelers. The choice of laptops, tablets, iPads, and smartphones can be overwhelming.
The world is well into the era when access to information is available just about everywhere. It is possible to communicate with one another, browse the Internet, attend an online meeting, write documents, and do business from the office, at home, or on the road. Laptops were the breakthrough in mobile computing, but that was years ago. Now, there are also tablets, iPads, and many kinds of smartphones. The problem is deciding on which is the best to travel with. That all depends on what you need it for; many mobile devices connect to the Internet, but it is necessary to consider the applications and tasks you expect to be performing on the device.
When it comes to capabilities and convenience, as far as using the device, the laptop is still the most functional. Full-sized keyboards, large screens, and portability make laptops easy to travel with. Some are larger than others, and require their own case that can easily be worn around the shoulder, and also be used to carry other miscellaneous items such as papers, writing instruments, and books.
Netbooks are very similar, except a little smaller than the average laptop. They are still great for writing reports or that next novel, using office-type programs, and sending email. The screen sizes can be as little as eight inches, so the whole system fits in a small case and is easy to travel with. Connecting to the Internet is as easy as plugging in a USB dongle. Netbooks come in a few standard forms, some with or without keyboards. A model without a built-in keyboard can be a little awkward for business users having to connect accessory keypads that must be stored separately.
A tablet is another convenient device for travelers. Although their capabilities are not as great as a laptop, it offers high-speed Internet access and the ability to store data, read and edit documents, and check email. Virtual keyboards can take time getting used to, but if extensive writing is not required then this can be a space-saving mobile computer option. Unlike mobile or smart phones, a tablet generally does not have telephone capabilities. This is also something to consider if you expect to use a mobile device for calls.
The iPad fits in with the trendy gadget crowd, but is also a business tool. Users can type documents, surf the Web, play music, and play games, but the standout features are its long battery life, compared to netbooks and notebooks, and its touchscreen interface. Navigating through the device’s features is also quite simple, and the flat panel design that lacks a need for keyboards, mice, and other peripherals makes the iPad useful on an airplane. Add-on apps are available for advanced document editing and for using spreadsheets and creating presentations.
Smartphones are also nice gadgets, which combine calling with music, video, email, and Web surfing, among various other features. It’s easy to check your email on the road. For major business tasks, however, a smartphone is not as convenient because of the smaller screen and lack of a standard keyboard, other than the occasional mini-thumb-tapping keypad. This can still be useful for short and simple writing tasks, such as quick document editing and writing emails, but can be awkward for longer writing tasks. Beneficial features of smartphones also include GPS capability and the ease of connection to social media sites.
Whether it is a laptop, tablet, iPad, or smartphone, each has benefits for travelers. Some are better for certain tasks than others. Extensive writing work and high demand for office-intensive applications are still best accommodated by laptops and more compact varieties such as netbooks. The decision is also driven by what is most convenient for the user. Each type of business has its own unique demands, and each user performs one or a variety of tasks as part of their business role. It is important to shop around and do online research before making any purchasing decision, in order to get the best product for the price, and to find a good deal.
The major factors to consider include the size of the device. A shoulder bag or backpack is suitable for laptops, while a tablet can fit in a small case small enough to go in a bag or backpack. Smartphones, the smallest of all, can be strapped to a pocket or even fit inside one, so no extra bag is even needed for them. Pricing is another factor that drives consumer decisions, as with anything else. High-end devices can cost over a thousand dollars while a mini-laptop style netbook can go for around three hundred. Specifications such as memory, battery power, and the supported applications are also serious considerations. However, the answer as to which is truly the best for travel depends on the demands of the user.
Sherri Miller is a freelance writer for Adobe. Adobe provides image editing software as well as audio production software.