Going Mobile – Leaving the Desktop Era Behind

The main workhorse for many still seems to be the desktop in my observations. My question for most people is “Why?”

The landscape of the computer world has massively shifted in the last few years, but even a few years before that, there have been perfectly suitable replacements for your hard working, well loved, big screened desktops.

In other words, why invest in a desktop and a laptop anymore? It’s still a majority case I’m seeing. The real need to take your computing out the door exists, as does the need to have something that doesn’t hurt your eyes to look at for hours on end when you have a big project to work on.

In addition to the long standing discussion I had had with many people, helping them get over having a laptop and a desktop is the entire tablet market that has opened up within the last two years. This is a wrinkle in the discussion, but not really.

Tempted to know what you can do to save money and increase your productivity, and still be mobile?

I knew you were: The laptops of today, at the low end of the price point scale are more powerful than most all the desktops I see in service. So, why not ditch the desktop? I know: “the Screen is too small!” comment is coming next….but it doesn’t have to be.

I found, way back in 1993, I could do just fine with a laptop on my desk at work, equipped with a separate monitor, keyboard, mouse, network card and a modem. In fact I had my shop purchase 17 sets like this, to be handed to the project managers and the senior staff that traveled frequently and needed to keep up with work. We didn’t buy the docking stations (a concept that never really caught on) as it took only about 30 seconds to plug the stuff in when we came back into the office.

You can do the exact same thing now: Get a large LED display (light, and easy on the environment and your power bill, as well as your eyes), and a keyboard and mouse like you had with your desktop (make sure they are USB, as the old devices you may consider using might be the “PS/2” style, and no one installs those in notebooks these days).

Now you have the equipment (and you may be reusing your existing LCD/LED monitor), you’ll find a video out port on the laptop, which you may have used for a projector at a presentation, most likely a VGA port, sometimes a DVI or even HDMI.

With your external monitor plugged in…you may not see a picture, even when you turn it on. This is something the people who do lots of presentations know is the video output port on the laptops have three settings:

  • Laptop screen on only
  • Laptop and external screen
  • External screen only

Which setting is active is controlled (in Windows based systems) via the control panel/a right click on the open desktop, or a function key selection on the keyboard. Note: It’s like a three position switch and it rotates with each key press, and it takes about 2-3 seconds to register and synchronize the hardware.

Anyhow, once you’re by there, you have a choice: One screen or two?

If you don’t want desk clutter, set the laptop off to the side, and configure the system for the two screen to “clone” each other. With a few other settings, you can actually close the laptop lid and it’s just like that old desktop, but smaller, less noisy and less power hungry!

If you have room, welcome to the age of two screens! That alone makes you wonder how you lived on one display surface! I like to use my two screens like this: My main work on my 22″ full HD (1920×1080) display, and then I have Outlook up on the 17″ 1280×1024 screen to the right. If a new email pops in, or the calendar needs to get my attention, the movement over there gets my view quickly. This avoids the different working windows being stacked on top of each other, and you miss something.

Here’s a real benefit of having the laptop replace your desktop: When you unplug it from the office configuration to go mobile, where are all your files? right there with you! Your Word documents for contracts, PowerPoint slides, email, pictures, etc, etc,etc….you won’t have to say anymore: “oh, that’s on my desktop at home/the office!’ in the middle of an important meeting.

Here’s an added benefit: Is it better, when the hurricane is headed our way, that you only have to grab the laptop, stuff it in it’s bag and head out the door?” I’d say so…and if you can’t get back into the affected area for a few days (or weeks), at least you’re functional. With a desktop, that’s not going to happen, with the additional impact of maybe losing all those programs you had installed, in addition to losing data files.

Seriously, with minor exception among my clients, friends and family, the least capable new laptop you can buy is every bit as powerful as you need to work.

In this day and age of tablets, you will still need the desktop like function/desktop replacement. Tablets are cool, can let you get mail, and get to websites, but they don’t have many brains, let alone smarts, and while they can hook to a projector, it’s more cables/apps, etc…For basic functions, my tablet is a netbook, but I still need to haul out the serious laptop for work, but that’s me, with graphics, spreadsheets and larger projects.

Another consideration is that older systems are getting harder to maintain afford ably, and once they start going due to age related problems, it’s a fingers plugging the holes in the dike, hoping you won’t get flooded, but knowing you will.

If you’d like some assistance in making a purchase of the items to effectively allow you to be mobile and comfortably office based, with this flexibility, too, I can help.

I can also help to make sure you bring your data with you to the existing laptop, or to the new one, so you keep doing business with minimal interuption.

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