Surface Pro 3 Diary Entry 5: Its Mobility, Stupid

Surface Pro 3 Diary Entry 5: Its Mobility, Stupid

In my last diary entry, I promised a new article concerning the principles of true mobility and how, for many, it’s a struggle to adapt to new abilities. This is something I've been thinking about since deciding to walk down a conscious path to become a technology minimalist. The Surface Pro 3 sparked this thinking. You might think at first that I'm nuts for taking such a philosophical approach, but hear me out.

We are used to (I'm including myself in this group) a certain way of doing things. Any deviation from the norm can make us feel annoyed, bothered, grumpy, and it can be downright difficult to accept. It's just human nature. Change sucks. We like mundane. We like routine. We get comfortable with our situation. But, even more than that, breaking old habits for new ones takes a change in mindset, and being open to the possibility that change means better. If not for my geeky, sometimes over-abundant excitement for technology, I'd be a pretty boring person. If you're truthful with yourself, you'll probably admit the same.

So, it should come as no surprise that even our habits for computing fall under this same arrangement. Over time, we've developed ways of doing things that just seem to work. Don't mess with success, right?

So, OK. What does this have to do with a Surface Pro 3?

In a recent product review for the Waterfield VertiGo 2.0 Messenger Bag for Surface Pro 3 I noted a peculiar thing that happened along my path to attaining mobility greatness. I said…

Owning a Surface Pro 3 has the odd effect of making you want to deliberately curb your travel weight and the number of accessories you carry with you.

Why? Because technology has, finally, now caught up with my intent (at least for the most part). Forever, it seems, I've attempted periodically to minimize my computing environment. I wanted the ability to carry less and do more. But, the times I tried over the years, I failed because the day's technology had not yet become enabling enough to match my idea of true mobility. I've been mobile-minded for over a decade, but the technology kept me at bay. For many, if you fail enough times, you just stop trying. You give up altogether. Hence how we get stuck in a mundane rut and become comfortable with status quo. For me, though, my excitement for technology coupled with each generation of technological advances has been exciting enough to make me try again. And I'm glad.

The Surface Pro 3 with the docking station has now replaced everything I used and it's surprisingly more than adequate. It felt a bit strange finally dismantling my normal setup a couple weeks ago, but I was completely comfortable in doing so after finally coming to the conclusion that I didn't need it anymore. It's entirely liberating to be able to work at a desk using one configuration and then walk away, carrying the exact same environment with me. Sure, many have done this for years with laptops and laptop docking stations, but it's somehow different now. The Surface Pro 3 is my desktop, my laptop, and my tablet. It's light and mobile. It connects me to everything I want and conforms to my way of doing things. Microsoft may be promoting the device as the "tablet that can replace your laptop," but they're missing the boat. It replaces everything.

For travelers, we tend live in a "just in case" mode. We've spent enough time on the road to know that eventualities lead to personal angst, so we plan accordingly. But, technology now doesn’t have to exist in that equation any longer. In truth, I kept my old setup in place because of the "just in case" scenario. It was my security blanket. But, over the past few months, I've taken the time to look at my normal traveling load and determine which pieces were there for the "just in case" scenarios and which pieces I actually, truly now need. It’s a change and a different mindset. And, it definitely takes some effort. But, it's truly rewarding and makes sense in so many ways.

We do still have a ways to go. True mobility means carrying a single device that supplies the needs for every computing situation. I'm still waiting for the single device for everything, but I have two that are mandatory. Right now I carry the Surface Pro 3 and a smartphone, but I also have to lug around a couple portable chargers (yeah…still stuck in the "just in case" model on this one) to recharge and power those devices when battery runs low. Battery life for my smartphone (HTC M8 Windows Phone) and Surface Pro 3 is phenomenally better than devices in the past, but there's still that. So, you can't get rid of everything, but you can come extremely close.

Mobility is a concept that has real justification. From a business perspective, most business users carry a laptop, a smartphone, and a tablet (and miscellaneous other things). The laptop is for work. The smartphone can be a mixture. And the tablet is most generally used a personal entertainment device. It may feel comfortable because that's the way it's always been (mundane and routine), but that's too much. It's not necessary any more.

Microsoft has created something unique in the Surface Pro 3. You can attempt to duplicate its functionality with an Android tablet or an iPad, but you'll quickly realize just how far they fall short of being able to actually do business work when you need to work on a critical email attachment and decide it's much easier to shove the tablet back into your bag and just whip out the laptop. The Surface Pro 3 adapts to you. It's not perfect (as I've outlined in my Surface Pro 3 Diary series), but it's extremely close. As a true business user I dare you to consider your next few trips carrying only an iPad.

So, while you're working today, using those same, old, mundane methods, think mobile. Change your mindset. Look at the items you carry with you and consider if they're still actually needed. Discard the "just in case" pieces and free yourself. Do like I did. Something as simple as choosing a bag that helps push you toward your goal could push you over the edge. Seek to become a technology minimalist. The technology is there, but it will take a conscious effort (maybe of epic proportions) to become a true mobile citizen. Just like buying a pair of running shoes doesn't make you a runner, acquiring mobility-capable technology doesn't make you an instant success, it takes a personal change. I admit it's hard to get used to having "grab-and-go" capability, but I'm working on it.

I can, therefore I will.


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