I cherish the portability of Mac laptops. Large screen and large hard drives mean the new era of Mac laptops may replace your desktop.
Not portable enough for you? How about ultra portability with thumb drives? Do it now. Do it cheap. Do it small.
It’s not that there’s anything at all wrong with a Mac laptop. There are times when you need smaller, more portable, but you still need connectivity.
Without getting in to the whole Blackberry and cell phone issue, there are ways to keep a measure of connectivity in an ultra portable package.
I’m not talking ultra small laptop. This option is smaller than a Blackberry, smaller than an iPod nano. Yep, think smaller.
Ultra portable connectivity, of sorts, is becoming a rage among Mac and PC users these days, and application developers, particularly the open source crowd, are leading the way.
What’s the rage? Thumb drives. Flash drives. Those ultra portable USB 2.0 “drives” that plug into a PC or Mac and hold half a gig, a gig, even two gigs of storage.
Storage and files are one thing. Applications are something else. Today there’s plenty of “portable” applications available for the Mac and a thumb or flash drive or portable drive.
Actually, it’s not really a drive in the traditional sense, as most of the devices are not much more than a flash memory chip surrounded in plastic, connected via USB.
There’s no hard drive in the drive. It doesn’t matter. What happens when you plug in one of the little beasts is that it shows up on your desktop as a drive where you can copy files from or to.
What’s happened, though, is applications are now being made portable; small enough to fit on smaller flash drives, yet with enough features to allow productivity and connectivity while on the road.
Connectivity? Well, since it’s nothing more than a thumb-cum-flash drive, you’ll need to plug it in to someone who’s already got a desktop Mac or a laptop Mac that’s already connected.
Once plugged in, whatever portable applications you have on your thumb-cum-flash drive are available for you to use. Use? What’s available?
A quick search on MacUpdate lists a bunch of quality and familiar applications to Mac users; perfect for the ultra portable road warrior requirements.
There’s Portable Firefox and Portable Thunderbird; browser and email, arguably the two most used connectivity applications for most of us.
Both applications weigh in at less than 50 megabytes, so should fit on most USB drives.
What can be said. You get most of what makes up Firefox or Thunderbird and it’s the size of your thumb. Here’s how Mozilla describes Portable Firefox.
“Portable Firefox is the popular Mozilla Firefox 220.127.116.11 web browser packaged so you can carry around with you on any portable device, USB thumb drive, iPod, portable hard drive, memory card, other portable device (also on your internal hard disk) as long as it has 31 MB of free space and use on any Mac OS X computer, taking your bookmarks, extensions, history, cookies, and saved passwords with you.”
It’s hard to argue with that kind of portability, especially since flash thumb drives range in price from $25 to $150 or so. Firefox and Thunderbird for email.
What else is avaialble. There’s Adium so you can connect to other iChat, AIM, et al users while online.
Even the free Audacity has gone portable, so you can record and edit audio using someone else’s computer.
If small is better, then it’s tough to get much better than the size of your thumb for toting around a handful of the most popular Mac applications; browser, email, word processing, web page editing, FTP.
Will Microsoft Office ever have a portable version? Don’t count on it, unless thumb flash drives gain added storage. Even the iPod nano has enough space to hold all of Office and some room left over for music.
While the true road warriors wait for an ultra portable laptop from Apple, or pine for the day when the iPod runs OS X and connects to the Internet wirelessly from anywhere in the world, some of us may find thumb flash drives intriguing.
It’s comforting to know that some applications developers recognize the need for portability.
Now, if I could just get one of those small drives to hold all of OS X Tiger…