Escaping the Desk

Continuing the series of blog posts on workspace Hutch Morzaria has written a piece for us on getting away from our desks and the three technologies of the moment that make it so easy: smartphones, tablet PCs and laptops.

Hutch Morzaria writes on behalf of Mobile Phone Genie which is an independent advice and comparison website for mobile phones and smarthpones.

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Having access to your workplace and the ability to “work from home” without the worries of a daily commute is a nirvana that is quickly becoming reality for many people. However while Virtual Private Networks, Dedicated Phone lines and extra Monitors on your desktop are somewhat commonplace now, the true allure of working remote is the ability to work while not being tied to a desk at all! This is a slightly more difficult challenge, but one that is not in any way insurmountable!

To get online on the go you will need to get access to a Mobile Broadband network. Available from all of the major phone carriers, these next generation networks provide voice and data services to millions around the world and are commonly known as 3G Networks. Choosing the right device to use when accessing these networks however is another question altogether and does very much depend upon the level of interactivity and access that you need to your work computer and network.

Smartphones – while in some ways the Blackberry was the precursor of all other smartphones, in the personal sphere it has never done as well as in the business world. Its use of push email technology along with a very secure and well integrated software suite however does make it a very good choice for business people requiring a solid and secure platform on which to do their work. In addition, as most blackberry devices include a QWERTY keyboard typing speeds are generally superior to those having devices with touch screens only. However that being said, the new Apple iPhone and Android devices – HTC Desire for example – are worthy competitors and while both are currently less “corporate” than the Blackberry, this will change as they continue to explore new markets and bring out new applications to support ever more customers.

All smartphones are however restricted in the amount of physical real-estate that you can use and utilize. A 3” to 5” screen will simply not give you the same ability as a full sized computer monitor, so while they are ideal for email and perhaps some simple documentation tasks, a Smartphone in itself is probably not the best option for working remote.

Tablet PC – the newest kid on the block, the iPad, kicked off a whole new industry in and of itself. With competing products from Google (Galaxy Tab and others) and rumours in the works of Blackberry also launching a Tablet PC product in the future, this type of device is something that will be with us for a while. Tablet PCs generally fill the gap between Laptops and Smartphones and their screen sizes vary from 5” to 11”. Again, the smaller ones while easy to carry are probably not the best option for accessing your work network, however some of the ones with 10” + screens should definitely be considered.

While Tablet PCs cannot natively access the 3G networks, by purchasing a monthly Mobile Broadband contract and installing the supplied micro-SD card this all changes! With a significantly larger screen size, faster processors and a larger amount of storage, Tablet PCs can access office networks in a secure manner through VPN similar to their larger cousins and while the screen is larger it in no way restricts your mobility.

Laptop and Notebook Computers – more of a traditional solution that that of the Tablet PC is the Laptop Computer. For those requiring an improved processing ability and full QWERTY keyboard this is still the preferred option. Heavier than a Tablet and due to its capabilities having a much shorter battery life, Laptops and Netbooks require assistance to access the Mobile Broadband network also. In their case, they gain access through the use of a USB dongle. This simple little device plugs into the USB port on a computer and with all the required software already installed on the unit itself enables full access to Internet through either a monthly contract or Pay As You Go (PAYG).

Laptops vary in screen size from 10” up to 17” although the 17” units are generally considered desktop replacements and are not suitable for extended use on the go, simply due to the weight of the device in itself. However those units at the 13” to 15” level are extremely suitable and as mentioned earlier, the improved processing power, as well as large hard disc drives make these an ideal solution despite the weight issues. Laptops are able to use and support all of the same applications and tools that you are used to on your desktop computer ensuring that there are no cross compatibility issues either.