Like many people I’m making a New Year’s resolution with respect to losing some weight. However, in my case the sphere of concern to be addressed is my computer bag. It’s simply too heavy and I’m finally planning to do something about that.
In truth I’ve needed a new shoulder bag for some months. I’ve had the same one for about five years. It’s an HP branded ballistic nylon bag that I got two laptops ago. I really like the design of the bag, but recently it’s started to look a bit ragged. One of the zippers is even broken.
Shopping for a new computer bag naturally calls into question what goes into that bag. This is where my bag has suffered. I’ve just been carrying around too much stuff. Let me start with an examination of my past (and current) shoulder burden.
My work is in the area of broadcast TV graphics. This is a cross between the technological and the creative. I use the both the Adobe Production Bundle (Illustrator, Photoshop, Premiere Pro, After Effects) and various office and programming tools. This has historically meant that my company issued laptop was something of a monster.
Over the years I’ve used various Dell and HP models. Most recently I’ve been carrying the HP 8510W mobile workstation. Weighing in at 6.3 pounds, The Beast is no lightweight. Further, the 15.4” screen renders it largely useless in a coach class seat in any aircraft you can mention.
Even though it’s over four years old, the company is not yet inclined to replace it. Moreover, a few coworkers who have been given newer laptops found themselves with Dell Precision M4600 Mobile Workstations. That monster is even heavier than the old HP. As an upgrade path that hardly seems like progress to me.
I think that the company over-estimates our real requirement for laptop capability. On the other hand, my coworkers at HQ no longer have desktops. They use their laptops for everything. In my home office I prefer to use a desktop, even if I need to buy it out of my own pocket. That somewhat reduces the requirements on my laptop. It may be just a matter of perspective, and my situation may be unique.
For the past five years I’ve also carried a netbook. This was not company-issued, it was something purchased with my own money. It was a solution to the problem of losing productivity while travelling by air. There have been times when I was flying a lot and the 10” netbook allowed me to get things done during time that would otherwise have been unproductive.
My first netbook was the HP 2140, which a I described here way back when it was purchased. It was replaced by the little red HP 5102 (Engadget Review) , which I use to this day. The high-resolution display of the HP 5102 was a real treat. That display and the great keyboard has kept it in my bag for a long time.
A year ago I upgraded the 5102, swapping out it’s 160 GB WD Scorpio Black hard drive for a San Disk Ultra 120 GB SSD. That upgrade yielded another year of life for the HP 5102, but it’s once again becoming a source of aggravation. It’s just too slow to be anything but an occasional ride. An Intel Atom N470 at 1.83 GHz simply isn’t much silicon for Windows 7 Pro.
Further, I haven’t been travelling quite as much in the past year, which somewhat diminishes the value of its tiny 10” form factor. Oh, by the way, it weighs around 3 pounds with the extended life battery. They can share the same power supply, but the HP twins represent around 11 pounds on my shoulder.
More recently I’ve been carrying a Nexus 7 tablet. The Nexus 7 is a lightweight, but it replaces neither the laptop or netbook. So it effectively adds another pound to my bag.
All of that is the perspective of the past. I’ve been watching the Ultrabook category evolve over the past year or two. I’m of the opinion that I could now be travelling with just a decent Ultrabook and the Nexus 7 tablet. That pair would make for a dramatically smaller and lighter shoulder bag.
This train of thought to-be-continued…..as my wallet empties in the process.