Saturday, May 11, 2013

Three C’s across my mobile devices

Lptop tablet phoneI’ve been living in a new-tech matrix since the holidays.  I replaced my old Vaio (now sadly consigned to a corner running Windows 8) with a slim, nimble Sony netbook.  I’ve picked up a Nexus 7 to (hopefully) replace the satchel of books and equipment that keeps me leaning permanently to one side.  And I swapped a Lumia 720 Windows phone for my aging, ailing Nokia X6.

Change has been good.

All have access to a vast array of apps, and I’ve been pulling things down and experimenting.

I’ve found that there are some tasks that I want to share across all of my devices, and have the same app everywhere: Dropbox for files, Evernote for outlines, Pocket for webpages. 

I’ve also found that cheap connectivity is vital on all devices: they are hugely limited without the Internet.  WiFi is not (yet) universal, so a good 3G data chip is essential.  I started with a universal SIM chip from Roamline, but the bills grew rapidly with modest use.  I’ve taken a plan with  Dutch, a British, and a US carrier for separate monthly data plans that total up to about 35 euro per month, half the universal charge.

Cross-talk is the worst issue.  The device compete to see who can get email first, and CamStent’s Dotster server erases messages after the first pickup.  When a Skype call comes in, everything rings and all to the devices try to pick up at once.

Laptop Tablet Phone 2At the same time, I’ve found that there are things that each device is good at, and it makes sense not to push the boundary. 

The phone is good for keeping in touch.   It’s best for voice and messaging, for getting quick notices in “live-tile” apps for weather, exchange rates, and Facebook.  I like getting notifications and alerts, it’s  handy for walking-navigation and location-based searches.  It’s small, light, handy.

The tablet is good for media.  I like it for reading books and magazines, movies or TV (on WiFi), browsing mail, and en-route travel support (tickets and schedules).  I like the navigation  in-car and being able to check-in when I’m on-grid ad reaching out. And for playing Ingress (everyone needs a vice as they travel).  It works nicely with responsive touch, and the display is a good size and crisply bright for the bus, train, or exercise bike.  And for bed: it’s a nice reader/browser at night, and I can do a quick email check when I get up in the morning.  That maneuver, in particular, saves me  

The computer is good for getting work done.  If I need to write a  paper, analyze data, blog, do research,  or hold a  conference, I need a keyboard, horsepower, and disk space.  I still like to command a computer (I miss Unix BSD, actually) and touch desktops just mask and distract from what I want to get done.

I haven’t figured out a single source for Podcasts, Calendar, or Contacts yet, and so still carry my MP3 player and Diary.  None replaces my camera.

So, I’ve made a mental division between a device which Communicates, one which is for Consumption, and one for Creative work.  I know what to install on each of them, I know which to take along for a particular task, and I’m increasingly comfortable with dividing the day along those lines.  If I know I’m going to be on the bus and in meetings, the tablet is all I need: I can be productive with reading and email.  If I need to do heavy browsing and spreadsheets, I’ll pack the computer and leave the tablet home (charging).

I know people who watch videos on phones, email on tablets, ad don’t even own a keyboard.  I may get there, especially if I get comfortable with voice transcription (which will need a headset). But for now, it’s feeling like my mobile tech is really coming together nicely.

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