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3/16/2006
03:42 PM
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Make Mine Mobile: When Your Laptop Is Your Main PC

A laptop isn't just a desktop PC with a handle on it--it's got its own advantages and disadvantages. If your main computer is (or will be) a notebook, here's how to get the most out of your all-laptop life.

Anyone who has both a desktop and a laptop computer can attest to the headache of synchronizing information between the two, not to mention keeping both systems running efficiently and free of spam, viruses, and spyware. Then there's all the space that having two separate systems takes up -- who among us wouldn't welcome a bit more elbow room? Small wonder, then, that more and more people are deciding to dump their desktops for good and become full-time laptop users.


Your Laptop As Your Main PC


•  Is The Laptop Life For You?

•  Choosing The Right Laptop

•  Adding Key Peripherals

•  Moving Data And Apps

•  Setting Up Security

•  Connecting On The Road

•  Livin' La Vida Laptop


But using a laptop as your sole computer can be tricky. It all boils down to The Rule Of Portability, which states that, inevitably, there are tradeoffs in price, performance, and usability when computers and other devices become smaller and more mobile. In addition, there are security issues related to leading a laptop-only life that you don't face with desktops.

I had been considering the switch as I found that the time I spent managing three home desktop computers and a laptop was increasing. Plus, I've become increasingly mobile. So I consulted a few experts about the best way to lead an all-laptop life. Here's what they had to say about how to live happily -- and securely -- with your full-time laptop.

Step 1: Is It For You?
The first decision is whether ditching your desktop is right for you. "There are two core reasons for making the move from a desktop to a notebook," says Brian Beeler, who is president of TechnologyGuide.com, a site devoted to laptop computers.

The first reason is sheer necessity, Beeler says. For example, a change in your job could mean that you are now more mobile than before. The second reason is simply that laptop computers can be better even for users who don't travel a lot. "Many people find notebooks easier to use, cleaner on their desk, and it gives the flexibility of being mobile should the need arise," Beeler explains.

I hoped that switching to a laptop as my primary computer would reduce the number of computers I needed to maintain and manage. Also, when I'm away from my desk, I often forget to copy an important file or bit of personal information to my laptop, making me much less productive.

There are tradeoffs to relying on a laptop as a main computer, and I was painfully aware of them, because I've used laptops a long time, starting with the old Compaq "sewing machines" in the late 1980s. However, the drawbacks can be offset by selecting the right laptop.

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