If you had a 'clean sheet' opportunity to create the ideal digital office environment for you and/or your business, what would you buy? What hardware and software would give you a productivity advantage, while being fun and affordable? Here is what we did in our London based marketing agency.
This is Part 1 of a 5-part series in ReadWriteWeb's Enterprise Channel. Part 1 covers everything from a physical perspective. What, ideally, you need to have to make the digital office run. In subsequent parts, we will cover browser, web apps, mobile, and more.
Why?: Primarily, OS X - arguably the best operating system out there. In terms of hardware however, the MBP's form factor, strength, wireless connectivity, long battery life, speed, memory, improved graphics card, multi touch trackpad and decent sized hard drive all wrapped up in a beautiful metallic case should be enough to convince you.
Asus U2E, Sony Vaoi TZ31MN, Macbook, Macbook Air, Asus EeePC 900
Recommendation: Blackberry Bold
Why?: Let me be clear. I'm an iPhone user and I'll openly admit I have yet to use the blackberry bold. However, I have used almost every previous blackberry and from reviews by gizmodo, engadget and a number of gadget sites - this is the best blackberry ever. However, the main reason I have selected the Blackberry Bold over the iPhone is because of the downfalls of the current 3G iPhone rather than the excellence of the Blackberry Bold. Running your digital office you need to ensure you have access to your email, contacts and a solid long lasting battery - the iPhone is still not reliable enough on both of these points. If this post was more about the Social Media Guru's device list... yes, the iPhone would definitely be my phone of choice. Although of course, with an external battery attachment! We are, however, discussing the digital office and the iPhone is not there yet and won't be until battery life is extended, bugs are ironed out, multifunctionality between local apps is implemented and yes, email and connectivity issues are corrected.
Alternatives: iPhone, Treo Pro, Nokia E66 / E71, HTC Touch Cruise
US: Sprint / AT&T
UK: O2 / T-Mobile / Vodafone / 3
The Should Haves
EXTRA BATTERY FOR MOBILE & LAPTOP
EXTRA CHARGER FOR MOBILE & LAPTOP
Recommendation: Logitech VX Nano Cordless
Why?: Stylish, small but not too small, super precise and smooth maneuvering. Very convenient to just need the small usb plugin which can be left in your laptop all the time. Above all though, it's very very cool.
Alternatives: Apple Mighty Mouse, Logitech MX Revolution
Recommendation: Apple Wireless Keyboard
Why?: Elegant design. Sturdy and durable. Works superbly well. Extremely accurate, (very) small and lightweight, feels wonderful as you glide your fingers across the keyboard. On top of all that, seamless operation with Leopard, Tiger AND Vista.
Alternatives: Logitech diNovo Edge, Logitech Cordless Desktop S510
Recommendation: Western Digital My Passport Essential 500GB
Why?: Uprecedented amount of space for it's weight and size. It's pocket size, flawless performance and very practical - all at a fair price.
Alternatives: Toshiba 320GB Portable External, Iomega eGo Rugged Portable 320GB
Recommendation: Kingston DT100/8GB Data Traveler
Why?: 8GB on a usb drive! Above all, convenient, easy to use, small and reliable.
Alternatives: iPhone, HP 8GB USB Flash Drive
Why?: Comfortable, solid protection and padding for your laptop, feels very well made. Lightweight and very slim - so no more smacking into people as you turnround. Works with laptops up to 17 inches. Features a lovely integrated fur compartment for your laptop as well as plenty of space for your iPod and other accessories.
Alternatives: Mobile Edge MEEN01 Express Tote ($30)
Recommendation: Canon Pixma iP90v Photo Inkjet Printer
Why?: Small, dinky and portable. Prints pages at a decent speed and color photos come out very well if you're using it for that. Set up is a peice of cake however one drawback, make sure you have a usb cable and buy a few spare ink cartridges as they run out faster than your normal sized ones. Also, a superb price as it is currently on sale at Amazon!
Price: $200+ (currently on sale at Amazon for $151)
Alternatives: Canon iP100, HP Deskjet 460c Mobile Printer
Recommendation: Canoscan LiDE 90 (PC/MAC)
Why?: Great value. Just over A4 in size and about 2cm in depth Completely USB powered, extremely convenient and lightweight. Resolution is up to 2400x4800 dpi and scan speeds of approx 15 seconds. Works well with both PC and Mac.
Alternatives: Scansnap USB 10PG Adf Mobile Scanner (pc/mac), Pentax DSmobile 600 Scanner (pc)
Recommendation: Logitech Quickcam Pro 9000
Why?: Hassle free installation with XP and Vista. Superb picture quality. The Right Light function works very well even in the dullest conditions. If you want a good webcam for Skype, this is it!
Alternatives: Philips SPC900NC PC Web Camera
Recommendation: NoiseAssassin-Jawbone II
Why?: Easy to setup, slick to look at, comfortable to wear (at least in my ear). Works well with all bluetooth enabled phones and computers. Definitely does a superb job with controlling levels of background noise - just make sure the headset is actually touching your jaw or else it doesn't do it's job properly.
Alternatives: Plantronics Discovery 925
Why?: Easy to use out of the box. Brilliant quality image. Practical. Beautifull little camera. Video quality is vivid and crisp. Perfect if you want something you can pull out fast and record.
Alternatives: Samsung mx 20 "YouTube" Camcorder, Sanyo Xacti VPC-HD700
PORTABLE MEDIA PLAYER
Recommendation: iPod Touch
Why?: It's not perfect however you'd be hard pressed to find a better all round device at this size out there. Glorious screen quality and device build. Setup is elegant and straight forward as you would expect. Navigation is equally impressive. Youtube is so easily accessible, accessing e-mails works flawlessly, battery lasts well to listen to music but runs low fast when on the youtube or internet. For such a small thing it can do so much: Games, Calendar, Mail, Internet, Music, Movies, Apps... What are you waiting for? The only real competition in my mind is the iPhone.
Alternatives: Archos 605 Wifi, Microsoft Zune
Recommendation: Shure Se210 Sound Isolating Earphones
Why?: Perfect to travel with and maybe even miss your flight! Shure's Se210 are in a completely different league. Having used a variety of high spec headphones over the years, Shure stands well above the crowd. An amazing piece of ingenuity. The clarity is astonishing, hearing notes I previously did not. The mid's and high's are exceptional, and the bass is perfect.
Alternatives: Sennheiser CX 95, Klipsch Image
Recommendation: Any Brand
Why?: Frankly, I have personally bought a number of USB hubs from ebay over the years and have yet to have one problem. I highly recommend going for the cheapest option which ever that may be. If you're a brand fan and looks are a very high priority however, the two options below should suit you fine
Alternatives: Belkin Hi-Speed USB 2.0 7-Port Mobile Hub, Cables To Go 7 Port USB
3 PLUG ADAPTOR
Recommendation: Monster 4 Outlet Mini Power Strip
Why?: Handy. There is always a shortage of power points when you need one. This compact power strip is a perfect for travel and obviously a doddle to use.
The Unnecessaries but Oh So Cool
What is it? A smart pen that digitally records everything you write and hear. You do however require special paper embedded with thousands of almost invisible dots for the pen to work - these are only $5 for a set of pads though. The recordings are transferred to a computer through a USB docking cradle. Notes can even be shared online and Livescribe gives 250 MB of storage space for free.
Price: $149 for the 1 GB version or $199 for the 2 GB model.
What is it? A tiny adaptor size device whicn you plug it into your room's socket, plug in the hotel's Ethernet cable and voila, you have wifi.
Alternative: Linksys WTR54GS
What is it? Essentially, an e-book reader launched by Amazon. It uses an electronic paper display and reads Amazons propriertary Kindle format (AZW) and downloads ebooks directly from Amazon.com.
Alternatives: Sony Reader
Next in the Series
Part 2: The Browser. How the browser will increasing play a vital part in the development of digital office. This post will be a run down of tips, tricks and features to make the browser work for you and your team.
Part 3: Web Apps, Desktop Apps & Integration. This will revisit the deskapp to webapp conundrum and the recent developments which have quite possibly sealed the argument.
Part 4: Tools & Services both Online & Off. An illustration of the best tools and services out there which combine to create the digital office.
Part 5: Portability, the iPhone & Mobile Web. This will cover portability and the mobile web, in putting the finishing touches to the new work way.
Top image credit: moriza