Not too many years ago, an entrepreneur booting up a laptop computer in a meeting or public place would get inquiring glances. With luck, clients and colleagues would be impressed and even envious. Nowadays, however, mobile warriors who want a reaction to any piece of portable business technology will likely be disappointed.
"We're moving from the gee-whiz phase into one where this is normal," says Gerry Purdy, a mobile technology analyst in Cupertino, California.
Today, mobile warriors have no excuse for not being instantly reachable by cell phone or e-mail on a PDA. They're expected to pull up inventory and pricing information on a laptop with a high-speed connection and give presentations using portable projectors.
Of course, just because it's expected doesn't mean it's easy, or cheap. But forget about the days when having facts at your fingertips meant packing a paper address book and being connected meant a pocket full of quarters and a phone booth.
"People communicate via phone, e-mail and fax even more than in person," says Miya MacKenzie, vice president of marketing for iGo Corp., a portable technology retailer in Reno, Nevada. "On the road, you lose days if you can't communicate with the office, your customers and your prospects."
With these facts in mind, Entrepreneur looked at the latest trends in cell phones, laptops and PDAs, as well as the status of wireless data access, Web conferencing, videoconferencing, portable presentation electronics and how you can keep it all safe.