Monday Morsel - Get the most from your laptop

Get the most from your laptop

Many of you have already made the transition from using a desktop as your primary to computer to using a laptop instead. Modern life seems to require portability and now many laptops are now powerful enough that they easily compete with desktops. The shift to portability has been building for a while, and in late 2008 laptop sales surpassed desktop sales. So because there are so many laptop users out there, in today’s morsel, let’s consider a few tips that will help you get the most from your laptop. (We’ll take up the fact that tablet sales are now on pace to exceed laptop sales in another Morsel!)


1. Buy accessories in pairs if you’re going to need one on the road

Lots of people take note of the size of my laptop bag. In my line of work, I seem to always need a cord or an adapter, which means I carry a little bit of everything. As a result, my bag resembles Felix the Cat’s bag. I don’t recommend you go quite that far with your accessories, but I do recommend that you keep a charger and any other “mission-critical” accessories in your laptop bag rather than having one that you tote everywhere. Why? Well, it’s one less thing you have to remember when you’re on the go with your laptop. Just drop your laptop in your bag and leave confidently knowing you have everything you need! Also, if you lose an accessory somewhere in your travels, you haven’t lost your only one.


2. Consider SSD

Solid State Drives, or SSDs, are gaining popularity and are now an option in many new laptops. If you have an older laptop, there are kits that will allow you to replace your existing hard drive with a solid state drive. SSDs are still expensive, and large drives are cost-prohibitive, but if you’re an average user with a average size hard drive, the upgrade is compelling for multiple reasons. First is that a solid state drive is fast – and when I say “fast,” I mean wicked fast to the point that you’ll notice the difference! In addition, it lends some stability to your computing experience. So if you’re bumped in the coffee shop, there’s not a risk of damage to your drive or a hardware failure. Finally, they’re silent and run very cool.


3. The screen is not a handle

This may sound a bit parental, but do not pick up a laptop by the screen. It stresses the screen, the hinges, and the cables that connect to the screen (and make the screen work). Repeating this bad habit will result in expensive problems. Pick up your computer by the base, or close it first.


4. Know what you need – and don’t expect to live between two worlds

One of the first things I tell people who are currently using a desktop, but considering a laptop is that once you make the change, you will probably never go back to a desktop. Once you’re experienced that convenience, you’re unlikely to want to relinquish it. If you’re thinking you’ll just use both computers, that opens up some different issues that I compare to “living between two worlds.” It will be hard to keep files in sync between two computers, not to mention constantly-changing applications like email. If you’re going for a laptop, go for it. If you feel like you need to use it as a desktop and are unhappy with your laptop screen size in that environment, hook up an external monitor and use a Bluetooth keyboard. Or consider a docking system like Bookendz or Henge. Lastly, if you feel you need both a desktop and a laptop, consider using some sort of “cloud synchronization” method between the two computers. For that purpose, I recommend
Dropbox to keep the computers synchronized.


5. Laptops are great, but not for everybody

When you look around at your computing peers, you may feel like you need to be one of the “cool kids” and get a laptop. Laptops are great, but they’re not for everybody. If you like a defined workstation or aren’t worried about computing on the go, a laptop is not for you. If you need the flexibility of adding drives, working with a lot of external devices, or just need a lot of computing horsepower, a laptop is not for you. If you need a large screen, a laptop is not for you. I love a laptop, but I also recognize that for some people, it’s a choice that may hinder your productivity. What matters most is that your computer is right for you – whether it’s a desktop or a laptop.

Have a wonderful week! If I can assist with any questions you have, please feel free to give me a call.

Felix