So you think a laptop or a notebook is the cool way to do your computing on the go? A humbler, but probably as powerful tool is available — at a fraction of the costs.
The humble pen drive that you can plug into the USB port of any computer can go a long way. The drives are giving more and more storage and getting cheaper by the day — and also smarter and better looking thanks to pre-loaded software inspired design.
You can now go to eBay or Future Bazaar or other online shopping sites to buy yourself a cost-effective pen drive, in which you can store a lot — be it photos, files, songs or increasingly, even videos. Newer generation DVD players, audio systems and even televisions come loaded with a USB port. I recently downloaded a YouTube video, put it in a USB drive,
and comfortably watched a rare musical treat in the comfort of a large screen in the drawing room.
You can buy a 4 gigabyte (GB) drive — that is 33 per cent more memory than what abundant Gmail is offering on the Web — for under Rs 500, but I would urge you to think bigger for longer term use. For about Rs 1,200 you can buy 8 GB, and even a state-of-the-art 32 GB one costs just Rs 5,000. The drive can help you back up just about all the valuable stuff on your desktop, and save you the anxiety of losing a lot to a virus or a crash. Brands like SanDisk, Kingston and Transcend are among the better-known pen drive makers. Just carry one and board a plane without worrying about security checks.
USB drives are now getting smarter — as if they were desktops — with a vastly underrated phenomenon called USB computing — thanks to which you can access a browser, email and even Net-enabled Skype phone directly from a pen drive. Platforms like U3 and MojoPac enable powerful USB computing. A U3-enabled “smart” SanDisk Cruzer with a 1 GB memory can be bought for as low as Rs 500 now. With pen drives, you can just unplug and walk away from someone’s computer, without leaving your own trace behind.
I expect smarter pen drives with pre-bundled software to enable as cool alternatives to laptops. Well, almost.