We’ve steered the ZRV south. We’re just inside North Carolina, at a KOA campground in Enfield. By tonight, we’ll be back in Florida, preparing for a presentation at the Disney Entrepreneur Center on Thursday morning. A lot of reflection going on right about now. Eighteen days on the road, and as a family, we’re still talking. Equally important, as far as this “home business exercise” goes, my clients still seem to be talking to me.
How has this happened? Credit understanding by my family and clients, and the tools I’ve used. I’ve said that Home Office Highway was NOT about some fancy technology that created a whiz-bang workspace. It’s been all about off-the-shelf stuff, easily accessible and priced right for anyone, that creates a workspace that mimics the home office.
What stuff have I used? Let’s go by the numbers…
1. My Office Depot Foray Mobile Workmate ($89.99) This 14-inch-square wheeled portable office held everything I needed to work along the way. With room for my laptop, cables and more files than I’d ever want to take on this “digital adventure,” it literally was my office organizer on the road. When I needed to download images from my Sony camera, I reached in to fetch my Ativa Memory Stick card reader.
2. My Targus Flare backpack ($69.99) The Workmate was cool, but when I wanted to take the office with me, the Flare was my portable office. Big enough for a 17-inch laptop, I was carrying a pair of HPs nowhere near that size. It nonetheless provided ample space for all we wanted — laptops, booklets for the tour, ID and keys. It even has a built-in rainfly. It went to Henry David Thoreau’s Walden Pond, and was an otherwise faithful companion for almost 4,000 miles.
3. My HP Compaq 2710p Ultra-Light Tablet Notebook PC (from around $1599). This pint-sized powerhouse was a winner on the trip. Faster than my workhorse HP Pavilion, it won kudos all around — from family (who fought over using it and its nifty tablet / stylus capabilities), and even guests from our Office Depot stops en route. Its 12.1-inch screen, the sub-four pound size and generally lean design facilitated in-an-instant computing; have something to blog or write, pull it out of the Workmate, power up, and you’re good to go. Very cool indeed.
4. Verizon Voyager wireless phone (from $199 before rebate), and the Verizon Dare phone, not shown (from around $250 before rebate). The Dare was in the driver’s cab the entire trip. Verizon’s VZ Navigator gave turn-by-turn directions loud and clear, competing with our TomTom GPS for our attention, and eventually edging the traditional GPS out of the competition. With other services like email, Verizon’s VCast service, IM, and Voyager’s QWERTY keyboard, they were reliable fan favorites along the way.
5. The HP OfficeJet 470 portable printer ($249 before rebates) Small enough to stash in the Workmate, yet simple enough to pull out, power up and print loads of docs, this printer was ideally suited to the tight environs of the ZRV. Super fast, it can crank out 22 pages per minute in black and white, and 18 ppm in color. With wireless connectivity and a Bluetooth adapter, the incuded USB cable was unnecessary. Just transmit and print. It’ll even handle up to A4-sized photos.
6. The Office Depot storage bin (from around $7). Several, actually. OK, so a plastic, weather-resistant storage container might not seem like tech. But storing stuff neatly is pretty important when your home and office on the road maxes out at less than 200 square feet.
Not shown are two products without which this tour would have been impossible:
* Verizon Wireless’s BroadbandAccess USB wireless Internet service (starting around $40 a month). Most of the RV parks we stayed at promised free Wi-fi. Few delivered. My “aircard” was flawless. In the parks, in friends’ homes, on the highway, we had service. Whether traveling for work or play, Internet completes the “digital adventure.” Without this service, we might have well been phoning it in…
* The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H10 8.1 megapixel digital camera (from around $299). Every picture taken on this trip was shot with this workhorse. We even popped some videos with it. It was small enough to be portable, but powerful enough to shoot great shots. Its 3.5-inch screen fed my habit of shooting everything, and deleting on the fly. I have about 1,000 shots to show from this trip; I probably shot 2,000 — deleting the difference along the way. Reviews claim there are better cameras on the market. But for the avid amateur, this was a great companion.
Each item on this list is off-the-shelf. Nothing fancy. No steep learning curve. No fancy bells and whistles to get in the way of reaching near peak productivity from jumpstreet. With so much to learn about business and living from aboard an RV, the last thing we needed was to learn a bunch of new technology…