Take Your Home Offie on the Road

Hotels and inns have courted travelers for centuries by promising all thecomforts of home. Actually, I’m happy to forego those comforts—thecat walking on the bed, cold cereal for breakfast—in favor of getting all the productivity of home. But is it possible to replicate your home offi when you’re away? Not surprisingly, the answer is: It depends. If your home offi PC is a fiebreathing workstation with 8TB of storage and four 27-inch monitors, teamed with a laser multifunction printer with twin 550-sheet paper trays, you might as well stay home. But if you make do with a more modest hardware setup, you may be pleasantly surprised by what it’s possible to accomplish from a hotel room desk, a client’s offi, or the front seat of your car (parked, of course). First, you’ll need a laptop. Some of you may be tempted by a tablet with a folding keyboard cover, especially a model with cellular connectivity such as Apple’s iPad Air 2 or the HP Spectre x2, but notebooks’ bang-for-the-buck quotient is considerably higher. Real laptops have processors from the Intel Core family instead of Pentium, Celeron, or Atom, and displays with resolutions of 1,920 by 1,080 or higher instead of lowly 1,366 by 768 (we will grandfather-clause Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Air, though we wouldn’t accept its 1,440-by-900 resolution on a new laptop today). Don’t settle for less than 4GB of memory, preferably 8GB if you do any serious multitasking. And 128GB of flsh storage is a little thin (we recommend 256GB), but it’s tolerable with cloud storage so readily available and worth it for the sake of getting solid-state storage rather than the slower mechanical variety.


If your laptop lacks high resolution, consider hitting the road with a monitor in your briefcase. This way, you can work on two screens in your hotel room or give a presentation without inviting your audience to look over your shoulder. But if your display’s resolution is high enough—1,920 by 1,080 at the minimum, though higher is better—you may be able to get away without a second monitor. If you don’t think a monitor will fi in your briefcase, then you have never seen a USB monitor. The Asus MB169B+, for example, is a 15.6-inch In-Plane Switching (IPS) display that weighs just 1.8 pounds, and uses a single USB 3.0 cable for both power and video data. Though not as bright as you’re probably used to from a standard desktop monitor (200 nits), the full HD panel is perfectly adequate for indoor use. Its carrying case doubles as a stand that holds the display in either landscape or portrait orientation. And you can fid it for less than $200 online. Next, you’ll need Internet access. Because you’re boldly going where no Wi-Fi hotspot has gone before, that means mobile broadband or that cellular connectivity I mentioned earlier. Yes, real hotels have free Wi-Fi but we all know that many are still greedy for those $15-a-day fees and, when you’re visiting a client’s offi, it can be awkward to ask for the Wi-Fi password. Better to bring the Web with you in the form of the Verizon Jetpack 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot AC791L, which costs $50 with a two-year contract plus $50 per month for 4GB of data. This shirt-pocket-size Internet gateway works for more than 20 hours on a charge (it can also charge your smartphone in a pinch), connecting your laptop, phone, tablet, camera—up to 15 devices—to the Web.


What if you need hard copy on the highway? For most of us, that means trotting down to the hotel’s business center with a document on a flsh drive. But if you need portable printing—making handouts for a presentation, say, or flers for a realty open house—you should check out the Epson WorkForce WF-100, a 3.5-pound inkjet about the size of a box of Kleenex that chugs along, printing surprisingly crisp documents and borderless photos, on either AC or battery power (albeit at half speed on the latter). The $200 WF-100 also has Wi-Fi Direct for making connections when you’re away from your wireless network. If you’re seeking a mobile equivalent to what I call the hub of a home offi, a multifunction printer/copier/scanner, there’s the HP Offijet 150 Mobile All-in-One, but that Bluetooth-based device is substantially bulkier and costs more than the WF-100. I’d suggest you look at Fujitsu’s 0.9-pound ScanSnap iX100 or another portable scanner instead. Even on the road, of course, you can’t do without backup. I use a mix of cloud and pocket storage, uploading fies to OneDrive (I have 1TB of space as an Offi 365 Home subscriber) and, because I have an Android phone, carrying SanDisk’s 64GB Ultra Dual USB Drive 3.0, which has a USB 3.0 plug on one end and a micro USB plug on the other. Finally, if you use your laptop on a plane or train, you may be irritated—and, at worst, your business may be endangered—by a nosy seatmate reading what’s on your screen. One row behind and across the aisle is the ideal vantage point for snooping, by the way. A privacy and screen protector such as those offred by 3M can thwart prying eyes while you’re on the go.