Sept. 30, 2011 – As I surveyed the mess of cords and chargers I’d packed into my backpack to take to work in Southwest D.C., a few months back, I wondered: How many electronic devices does one person really need to tote around everyday?
As a freelance journalist, I need to port the tools of my trade so I’ll be ready for any assignment at a moment’s notice.
Those tools included a cell phone, extra battery, my laptop and camera. For greater flexibility, I also carried a broadband hotspot device. And, for the commute, there was a e-book reader and MP3 player.
The backpack was weighing me down, threatening the very flexibility and mobility they were meant to enhance.
It was time to update, consolidate and downsize.
I started with my phone. I was due for an upgrade so I went with a 4G smartphone that could be used as a wireless hotspot. That eliminated the need for the wireless broadband device.
Then, there was the computer, e-book reader and MP3 player. My Macbook, though a lighter model, added extra weight I could do without. I was using it for writing and editing documents, research, email, invoices and GPS. After a bit more research, I realized I could get all of that done – and enjoy reading my ebooks – on a tablet.
I got a iPad2, on which I downloaded several productivity apps, including the Nook, so that I could access all of the ebooks I’d already purchased.
Two down and two more devices to consider.
I’m sorry, but I’m just not giving up my media player. While I could listen to music from my iPad2 if necessary, I’m a stickler for good sound. Unfortunately, iPads and iPods have never thrilled me. I did, however, slim down to the Cowon J3, which is light, thin and delivers the best sound of any media player.
As for my camera, I was carrying a Sony Cybershot DSC-H5, which I love. It’s a mega-zoom digital camera that takes great, color-accurate photos. It’s also fast, particularly on the fly. However, it was taking up a lot of space in my pack and the additional batteries were adding needless weight. I downsized to a point-and-shoot Nikon Coolpix S9100. It’s a more-compact, feature-packed camera with decent battery life. But, the shutter speed and picture quality still leave me wanting. The jury’s still out on that choice.
All in all, I saved space and weight in my pack by downsizing and consolidating. Fortunately, too, a few of the devices, including my phone and camera, could use the same charger.
So, as you wade through the crowds at Metro Center or any other commuter hot spot, carrying what amounts to your entire office on your back, you, too, might ask yourself, “Do I really need all of these devices or can I consolidate, too?”