Tools of The Trade: The Laptop in My Pocket

Last Monday, the night before I was due to cover a big conference, my nearly brand-new MacBook Air died: suddenly, completely, and unrecoverably. After hurling a stream of expletives in the general direction of Cupertino, I paid a visit to the Apple store conveniently located next door to the conference hotel. They confirmed that my MacBrick was really most sincerely dead, but there was no way they’d be able to fix it before the end of the conference.

Before leaving the store, though, I picked up a Bluetooth keyboard. That, plus my iPhone and a few other items I already had with me, became my new laptop. I was amazed at how well the arrangement worked, and also at how many people came over to comment on my setup. Here’s what it looked like:

iPhone: the new laptop.

iPhone: the new laptop.

I used the Pages iOS app ($9.99), a standard tabletop tripod (about $10 at any photo store), a Gary Fong iPhone tripod adapter (ridiculously overpriced at $20, but much better-looking than a duct-taped binder clip), and an Apple Bluetooth keyboard ($69).

Considering its $110 price tag, it’s a surprisingly capable system. The Pages app stores files on the iCloud service, so they’re automatically backed up and accessible from anywhere. The keyboard is very quiet and has a feel I’m accustomed to, and the tripod adjusts to hold the phone at whatever angle I need. Of course it also has a built-in web browser, email client, and the ability to install pretty much any other kind of program one might need.

I’m not sure I’d want to rely on this as my only computer on a business trip, but I’ll certainly pack the components for it in case I need a backup again.

Oh, and my regular laptop is once again among the living – my local Apple store fixed it under warranty after I got home.