Sometimes it's a waste of time to buy a laptop when a smartphone or tablet will do. Here are alternative tech tools to consider.
Works on: iPhone, iPad
What it is: The portable version of FileMaker's personal database.
What it does: Manages contacts, tracks projects and plans events.
Pros: 25 customizable database templates, iTunes-style search and integration with other apps.
Cons: Probably most helpful when synced with Bento's desktop software (about $50). Some restrictions to how much you can customize the app.
Verdict: Type As will love the ability to keep all their notes and lists in one place.
Dropbox (Free for 2 GB, $9.99 A month and up for more)
Works on: Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, iPad
What it is: A virtual hard drive.
What it does: Lets you save a Word doc, photo, PDF or other file to Dropbox so you--or a colleague or client--can access it from another device.
Pros: It beats carrying a thumb drive or e-mailing stuff to yourself or clients, especially monster files.
Cons: Not all clients will want to install Dropbox, but they still can access files via a secure web portal.
Verdict: A convenient, inexpensive way to share and sync files.
Works on: iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry
What it is: Access to your files, on the go.
What it does: Puts your Egnyte cloud-storage filing system on your mobile device. Securely and remotely gives you access to your online file storage, file sharing and backup.
Pros: Create, edit, share, delete and sync your entire file server.
Cons: Features vary by smartphone OS, and there's not yet a native app for the BlackBerry.
Verdict: If you already use your smartphone for practically everything, this is for you.
Works on: iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry, Palm webOS, Windows Mobile
What it is: A note-taking and archiving app: "An extension of your brain."
What it does: Captures your brilliant ideas and insights as text, audio recordings or photos and automatically syncs it all to your desktop.
Pros: Easily search through your notes by keywords, titles or tags. Evernote has multiple language support, and all notes include geo-location information for mapping and search.
Cons: If you're a visual person with an iPad, you won't be able to store photos of what strikes your entrepreneurial fancy.
Verdict: Perfect for both detail-oriented and big-picture people.
Quickoffice ($9.99 and up, based on operating system)
Works on: Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, iPad, Symbian, Palm webOS
What it is: A suite of word processing, spreadsheet and other office tools for smartphones and tablets.
What it does: Gives you another way to stay productive if you don't want to carry a laptop and don't need every bell and whistle of a PC-based office suite.
Pros: Good compatibility with Microsoft Office, and integrates with Dropbox.
Cons: Often crashes when trying to autosave long, formatted documents, and lacks some basic tools such as word count.
Verdict: One of the best handheld office suites out there.