Anyone who's ever used a laptop docking station quickly sees the advantage of being able to plug into multiple peripherals (keyboard, mouse, large-screen monitor, USB drive, printer, etc.) with a single connection.
Stories by Brian Nadel
When most people think "laptop," they think of a device with a 12.1-to-15.4-in. screen, which is really a bit cramped for extended use. 17-in. notebooks, on the other hand, provide a nice, large, desktop-size display. And unlike desktop computers, they still allow some mobility.
A lot has changed in the 20 years since the first laptop computers appeared, including gigahertz processors, color screens, optical drives and wireless data. However, one thing that has stubbornly stayed the same is the conventional clamshell format with its hinged display lid that opens to reveal a mechanical keyboard.
We may be a country obsessed with fixing our homes and tricking out our cars, but we usually throw away our PCs when they start to give us trouble. These days, however, the recession and the tight credit situation are combining to make it more attractive to fix up an old computer, because a three- or four-year-old PC can be rejuvenated fairly easily.
I have a confession to make: About two years ago I made a big mistake and bought a phone designed for mere mortals when what I really wanted was an Apple iPhone. Don't get me wrong -- my Sony Ericsson W580i has served me well -- but I'm ready to move up to a super-phone.
Whether you're buying for yourself or outfitting a department, shopping for a laptop today is a double-edged sword. The good news is that there's a huge variety to choose from, all with pros and cons. The bad news is that for many buyers there are just too many choices, leading to frustration and fatigue.
Whether you're away from the office for an hour, a day or a week, the last thing you want to do when you get back is fumble with a slew of cables in order to get your notebook connected. A docking station can make it a lot quicker and easier to reconnect to your wired network, human-size keyboard and mouse, easy-on-the eyes external monitor, printer and other peripherals.
Whether it's to clinch a sale, show off a new product or discuss a potential acquisition, the digital projector is major part of everyday corporate work. As a result, mobile workers who need to make presentations on the road have become beasts of burden, often hauling 20 to 25 pounds of gear, including notebook, projector, and a seemingly endless array of accessories, cables and adapters.
Does this sound familiar? Your mobile phone, your smart phone and your notebook all come equipped with Bluetooth, but you hardly use it because other than a clunky headset, there's not much to connect to. That may have been true in the past, but while you weren't looking, an array of cool and useful Bluetooth devices has appeared on the scene.
It was five years coming, but the battery of my ThinkPad R50 finally met its maker. On a recent trip, it conked out after powering the notebook for only half an hour -- three hours short of what I'm used to getting out it. Now it refuses to be recharged at all. Clearly, it's time for a new battery.
The stock market's a mess, your company's balance sheet looks like a sea of red ink and your budget for outfitting 50 employees with new notebooks has been slashed to the bone. What's a poor buyer to do?
You've done the hard work of optimizing your Wi-Fi network, and it reliably beams high-speed data to every nook and cranny of your home or office. Now, it's time to take it to the next level by connecting more than just computers.
Like a diamond, a digital media player or a rare coin, the latest mini-notebooks are good things in small packages. By squeezing a lot of computing power into a very mobile package at a hard-to-beat price, they are turning the established mobile pecking order on its head.
When you're on the road, you can't call upon the resources that officebound employees enjoy. But whether your temporary workspace is a table at Starbucks, a hotel lobby, an airport or a client's lunchroom, you've still got to get the work done.
One thing you can depend on these days is that the claims made for wireless routers, like 300Mbit/sec. throughput and 1,000-foot range, are nothing more than digital pipe dreams. The plain and simple truth is that these speeds and distances just aren't going to happen in your home, office or any place on this planet.