Friday, March 20, 2009

Advantages and disadvantages of the handheld laptop

After traveling for a week and a half with my NEC Mobilepro instead of my regular laptop, I noticed several advantages of the machine, as well as several disadvantages — both from a writer's point of view, of course.


1) Lightweight. Obviously the single biggest advantage is that it is an ultra lightweight and portable machine. Weighing just a little over a pound, I hardly noticed it most of the time, and I carried it around Haworth, Edinbrough, London, and Paris.

2) Comfortably sized keyboard. Obviously, since my main purpose is typing, I need a keyboard that is sized comfortably — and this one is. It's only slightly smaller than the keyboard on my Averatec, and just right for someone with small to medium-sized hands.

3) Correct software. The Mobilepro has Windows CE and "pocket" versions of Microsoft Office, which just means that the more advanced features aren't available. But it works for everything I need, so I'm happy!

4) Fast boot-up and shut-down. The entire computer runs off of flash memory, which means it turns on and off with the touch of a button — faster than your cell phone! I can also leave my current project on the screen, enabling me to get to work within seconds, and stop working at a moment's notice. Great for taking full advantage of brief opportunities to write, or even for jotting something down so that I don't forget it!


1) No WiFi or DSL capabilities. The Mobilepro does have a regular phone line connection and an internal modem, but being about a decade old, it's rather behind on the current Internet technology! Fortunately, I didn't miss it most of the time, as the cross-country trains were some of the few places where I would have had a connection.

2) Small screen. The screen is what was (then) called a half-VGA, so it is pretty tiny — only about eight inches wide, and perhaps two and a half inches tall. For my purposes this was rarely a problem, but had I been online it would have bothered me.

3) Transferring files. This wasn't a problem on my trip, but if I were using the Mobilepro frequently, transferring files back and forth would be a hassle. The Mobilepro takes Compact Flash cards (no USB port), but my regular laptop requires a card reader, which is kind of a pain.

Now, this is a pretty outdated little machine, so I'm not by any means suggesting that all of my fellow writers would find it useful enough to run out and buy one. However, I did find it surprisingly useful on my travels, so I thought I would share my observations in case one of you thought you might, too.

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