Traveling Light

Last week was a week of firsts. For one thing, it was CTIA Wireless Expo in New Orleans, and while it wasn’t my first trade show (pretty far from, in fact) it was my first mobile channel show.

It was also the first time that I’ve travelled for work without taking a laptop. Instead, and as kind of an experiment, I took an iPad.

I’ve been thinking about getting a work tablet for a few months at least. For one thing, these days it feels not only onerous, but downright 20th century to lug a 4 pound laptop on the road. At a lunch with some managers from one of my dealers last November, I was the only one at the table who didn’t have a tablet with me.

I won’t lie, I was feeling some tablet envy that day.

From a tasks perspective, when I’m travelling on business there’s really only three functions I need: SAP, email and goofing off on the Internet (Facebook, Netflix, etc.). So really, that just underscores how unnecessary most of what a laptop’s functionality is whiletravelling.

So at the end of last month I bought a New iPad for work. My preference would have been to pick up an iPad2 at the new low price, but I couldn’t find one, so I just sucked it up and got the new model.

After some testing of various desktop apps, our IT guy suggested Jump Desktop. It’s an app that allows you remote access to your terminal server on the iPad. That gives me access to SAP. Additionally, its overlay gives you touch screen control of the desktop that works very well.

So how did spending a week away with just an iPad work out?

For the most part, great. I was able to do the things I needed to do, such as check inventory, ETAs and pricing for my dealers, keep up with email without using my iPhone and all the other things that a hard working rep has to do.

I also got to catch up on my Angry Birds levels (original, Seasons and Space, in case you’re interested) during my occasional downtime, but that’s just an added bonus.

There were really only two downsides, one of which is only tangential to the iPad.

First, there were the new product info/media kits my suppliers handed out on thumb drives during our meetings. I couldn’t access them until I got home.

Second, under the guise of “it seemed like a good idea at the time” I used my iPad in a leather portfolio with a built-in Bluetooth keyboard.

As it turns out, I’m adept enough with the iPad’s virtual keyboard that I didn’t use the Bluetooth keyboard even once. It was just added weight. I’m going to swap it out for a plain leather portfolio right away.

Sayonara, laptop!