A Week Without A Laptop: Lessons From The Street

Recently I blogged about my experience in going without a laptop at Losethelaptop.com, a web site AT&T put together to encourage users to stop using laptops in favor of mobile phones (and to promote two new HTC devices). It was an interesting experience.
Sophie Le Brozec, who does PR and Marketing for Glasscubes a company providing collaboration software, spent a week in London with a colleague, without their laptops. They were able to get work done using their own software and a web browser. Instead of taking their laptops they used the hotel’s computer. Here’s her “no laptop story”:
Ten years ago, a limited few people had heavy barely portable laptops. 5 years ago only, the weight had come down, but only the most mobile of people had a laptop due to their expense. Two years ago, laptops were as common as cell phones.
I recently had a bit of a breakthrough moment with myself and my colleague. Being in a technology organization, laptops are normally the norm in meetings and given that we were meeting up at a neutral venue, it would normally be obligatory. Not so.
We simply looked to the cloud and prayed. Ok, so we didn’t pray, but knowing that both of us were going to be leaving the meeting and going to separate evenings out, with potentially taxis, drink and late nights – the last thing we wanted to risk were our laptops. And the last thing we wanted to be lugging around was our laptops too.

So we located a decent location with a computer (a hotel lobby) and spent a day discussing plans, courses of action and activity as well as creating all manner of documents using our own product, Glasscubes. Given I’d come over from France to meet my colleague this was potentially a risky strategy.
However it paid off. Not only were we able to collaborate with each other verbally and in person, we were able to update documents, edit documents (even though the computer in question didn’t have Office installed), reply to our customers and colleagues who were having discussions back in the office.
It was quite an eye opener to how much we rely on computers, but ultimately using the technology provided through the cloud, we can actually do things as usual without having the burden of laptops.
When you combine this with the risk of losing or having a laptop stolen, maybe misplacing your USB device (or CD if you’re in a government agency) suddenly technology is working for us again. Security is obviously critical on any public computer, but have that and suddenly you are freer and more mobile than ever.
What next for laptops?
I genuinely don’t believe the end is nigh just yet. People still like the flexibility, however with the advances of technological capabilities of mobile handsets, combined with faster and faster mobile internet access, it is not difficult to see the cloud playing host to many more mobile applications with devices we use more regularly than any laptop.
And while screen size could be an issue for any significant advancement, the age of being mobile is taking another twist and making life even easier still.
Would I recommend what we did?
Absolutely. Last week was great. No messing around with wireless keys, no paying for an unreliable wireless access and no lugging around of technology, wondering if I’ll leave it in the next bar. It was a day that two people came together, worked, played and achieved results – without carrying a block around with us.
I carry my Dell Latitude E6400 (on loan from Dell) everywhere I go. I’ve also got an HP mini netbook that I use as well. However, for long typing sessions, I need a full screen and a full keyboard.
It’s all about choice. Some people can use a phone all day and all week. My sister loves her Verizon Wireless BlackBerry -she can type entire letters on it. Others love their slim netbooks – like Anita Campbell of Small Business Trends. Others, like myself, need a full size keyboard (14″ screen) to get serious work done.
It’s all about YOU and what helps YOU work more productive.