One-man band

An array of portable devices allows us to work anytime, anywhere. Just like setting up your desktop PC for business, there are specific tricks and procedures that will help make your portable office efficient, as well. However, do not cut down on expenditure by relying solely on a portable device. No matter how powerful a notebook may be, if it's your only computer then you're asking for trouble.

First, consider the physical nature of your device. Whether you choose a notebook or a PDA, the portable nature of these devices makes them more susceptible to damage and theft. With this in mind, ensure you back up data before going out and again when you return to the office. This process will give you the opportunity to synchronise dates, schedules, contacts and projects between your portable and PC.

Connectivity tools

How do you go about connecting your portable device to a desktop PC? Fortunately, every PDA, regardless of the main operating system it runs under, has excellent connectivity and synchronisation tools. If it runs Pocket PC, you can use Windows' own Direct Cable Connection utility and either a parallel or serial cable. However, a product such as LapLink is much easier, especially with the optional USB cable for faster connections.

LapLink really impresses with its remote access and control options. Not only can you transfer and synchronise files between systems, you can also control your PC remotely using the notebook. You could use and launch applications, all from afar. You could even dial into your desktop PC and retrieve an essential file using a notebook from anywhere in the world.

Portable modems

As with a desktop PC, your portable will need to be able to communicate. While 56Kbps modem cards are available for portables - sometimes they're even built-in - you can often dispense with the wires and use a suitable mobile phone instead.

Several, such as Nokia's 7110 ($490) and Ericsson's R320s ($568), have built-in infrared modem facilities which talk to the ports that are built into many portables.

Mobile phone data is currently transmitted at a paltry 9.6Kbps, but this is sufficient to send or retrieve e-mails. Future mobile data services will steadily increase in speed and offer always-on connections, charging users for the data transferred rather than the time spent online.

LapLink 2000. www.laplink.com; price: $285.pcAnywhere 9.2. www.symantec.com.au; price: $189.

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Gordon Laing

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