Form Factor – The real problem with mobile devices doing ‘real work’

by Frank 13. November 2011 13:02

The golden grail for any manufacture wanting to dominate the mobile device business market would be the ‘perfect’ form factor. A key second requirement would be the ability to hold all your working files and run all your work applications.

By ‘form factor’ I mean both the size of the device and the size of the screen and keyboard.

We business users (I have a BlackBerry, iPad2 and a Dell notebook) are tired of having to carry multiple devices with us on business trips. Look at the chaos in any US airline check in line and see the frustration and exasperation generated by having to unpack and then retrieve multiple devices.

I would like to carry just one device and I want it to be really easy to use and power up and to have a really long battery life. Unpacking and powering up a notebook and then starting a browser and then running the Windows Outlook web client is a huge pain in an airport when all you want to do is quickly check your emails.  The notebook is also lucky to last two hours without a recharge.

So, when I need to quickly check my emails I use my BlackBerry. But, when I want to read and study a large document or spreadsheet or create a new document the BlackBerry is hopeless (the screen and keyboard are too small) so then I have to use either my notebook or my iPad 2.

I could probably use just my iPad 2 but it doesn’t fit into my pocket and neither does it run my normal office applications like Word and it doesn’t have a file system where I can maintain copies  of all the files I will need on my trip so it is a pain. It almost does the job but I still need the notebook for serious stuff.

I love the iPad 2 but it isn’t there yet as the true alternative to the notebook. I am hoping that Apple is listening to its customers and that it will address the dumb limitations of the iPad (like no file system or separate USB port) in the iPad 3 next year.

In the meantime, I almost get by by using a clever little iPad app called Wyse PocketCloud. This is the equivalent of Microsoft’s remote desktop and it enables me to see my desktop PC at work and all my folders and files when I am travelling. It also allows me to run any of the applications on my desktop and even allows me to demonstrate our Windows products like RecFind 6. It is easy to set up and in my experience works really well and is amazingly fast.  However, you obviously need a Wi-Fi connection to get full benefit but I am hopeful that when the iPad supports 4G we will be able to operate successfully without Wi-Fi.

And of course the iPad 2 isn’t a phone and neither is the notebook (yes, I know I could use Skype but I hate it) so I still need the BlackBerry.

Now back to form factor and we still don’t have a solution that will enable us to carry just a single device because everything we have is either too big or too small. Too big to fit in my pocket and too small to view and create serious business documents.

I have seen experimental devices that have folding screens and also ones that project the screen onto any handy wall but so far these are just gimmicks. No vendor has come up with a solution to the classical dilemma – that is, give me something that is small enough to fit into my pocket but which can become big enough (keyboard and screen) to do serious work.

So RIM, HP, Lenovo, Dell, Apple and Samsung how about it? When are you going to invent something for the business traveller that replaces all three of my travelling devices and provides the perfect compromise between small size and usability? If you do, you will certainly get my business.

For the future I am going to try and travel with just my BlackBerry and iPad 2 using Wyse PocketCloud. I also use Pages, Numbers and Keynote on the iPad 2 as my serious business apps. I am going to see if I can live without the notebook which is the heaviest, most inconvenient and most difficult and slowest to get up and running with the shortest battery life. I will let you know how I fare in a future Blog.

Comments (1) -

mobile phone detector
mobile phone detector United States
6/7/2012 4:08:02 AM #

Thanks for sharing the information. That’s a awesome article you posted. I found the post very useful as well as interesting. I will come back to read some more.


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