On The Go With Google Docs, N800, And iGo

Man, oh man: This is the way thing should be.

I donit own a laptop. I have nothing on which I can create or edit a Microsoft Word document. In fact, I donit even have one of those new micro-laptops like the ASUS EEEPC. Iim creating this article in Google Docs on a Nokia N800, using an iGo Stowaway Bluetooth Keyboard to enter text while sitting at a local Internet hotspot. I have full editing capability and when Iim done my document it will be instantly accessible by me from anywhere in the world I can access the Internet. So, I can edit my document while on a public computer in my local library, I can edit it on my iMac when I get home later, and I can edit on my sister-in-lawis computer when my wife and I go visiting, thus giving me an excellent excuse to disappear.

The iGo Stowaway Bluetooth Keyboard lets me type as fast as I can -- which isnit very fast -- but itis a darn sight faster than hunting and pecking with a stylus or finger, and itis a full size keyboard, so no hand or thumb cramps from typing on dinky keyboards or thumbpads. The keyboard folds up nicely and stows away in its own zippered case, and it uses only one AAA battery which seems to last forever. Once paired with the N800 the keyboard subplants the software keyboard thatis available on the N800, and when either device goes to sleep due to inactivity all I have to do to "wake up" the connection is to tap a keyboard key.

iGo Stowaway Bluetooth Keyboard

Note that the iGo Stowaway Bluetooth Keyboard appears to be a discontinued product. The iGo Stowaway Ultra Slim Bluetooth Keyboard, however, is still available and should work the same. Also note that at this time neither keyboard works with the iPhone, which is a crying shame. Hopefully this will be rectified soon now the the SDK (Software Development Kit) for the iPhone is available.

The N800is 4-inch diagonal wide-aspect screen lets me see a good ten lines of text, though I do have to break out my reading glasses to see them. I blame my eyes and my age, not the N800, which will let me enlarge the text until I can read it without glasses, but that leaves me only three lines of partial text. (Itis tough getting old.)

The N800 runs a version of Linux which is similar to the iPhoneis OS X in many respects, not the least of which is the fact that both are the same OSes that run on desktops and laptops, so applications that run on desktop Linux can be made to run on the N800. For instance, thereis a version of Doom thatis been compiled to run on the N800 and like the Web brower on the iPhone is a reworked version of Safari, the browser on the N800 is a reworked version of Mozilla. And like the iPhone, I see the "real" Internet, not some dyhydrated, humilated version on the Internet.

Nokia offers a newer version of their Internet Tablet devices called the N810. It has all of the niceties of the N800 and sports a slide-out keyboard and built-in GPS receiver, too.

Nokia N800

The jewel in this mobile office arrangement is Google Docs which gives me full editing features, but no fluff: Spell checking is there though it doesnit work in real time. Cut, Paste, Find and Replace are all there as well. Even some niceties like word count and automatic revisioning, which will let me go back to a previous version at the click of a button. I can even do some basic formatting. Whatis really nice is that I can export my document in one of many different file formats, thus making my creation easier to use in any application.

Over the course of the next several weeks, Google Docs will provide offline editing and automatic syncing of documents through a browser plugin called Google Gears. In fact, with a little futzing around you can get Gears to run on the N800. Complete and unadulterated sweetness.

This little setup of mine is so functional that I now take the N800 and the Stowaway keyboard everywhere I go. I never know when I need to write an emergency article.

Google Docs

With such features, laptops, could become pass?, at least for a good many of us. And this is with a Nokia N800, which isnit as connected or feature rich as the iPhone. What sort of goodness can be had if it where the iPhone?

At the moment, I think Iive out-geeked every laptop user at this hotspot.

Of course, this arrangement is not for everyone. If you need to heavily edit elaborate Powerpoint files or Excel spreadsheets then this would not be the way to go. Complicated Word Documents filled with chapters and macros should also be avoided. Nor should you even attempt to edit photos or graphic files. That just ainit gonna happen, even with Adobeis Photoshop Express on hand. Even simple editing may be more frustrating than helpful on such small screens.

Another drawback to this arrangement is that you have to carry around two relatively small pieces of equipment and setup takes about two to three minutes before I can actually start typing anything. That may not bother some, but it would sure aggravate others.

On the other hand, I have access to all of my online mail, calendars, and websites. I can IM most folks, schedule appointments, and tweak my websites all without ever touching a laptop, no matter how thin it may be.

If your editing needs are simple, and most are, then Google Docs and a smart mobile device -- preferably one like the N800 with a good size screen and full Bluetooth support -- and a portable full size keyboard, like the iGo Stowaway keyboard, is the way to go. Itis cheaper than most laptop setups, and a heck of a lot lighter.

Laptops? We donit need no stinkini laptops!