Extreme mobility: Tools and tips for smartphone-only travel

You can enjoy the liberation of traveling without a laptop -- if you have the right equipment and plan ahead.

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Via a presentation remote control app

ShowDirector app
The ShowDirector app lets you control a PowerPoint slideshow running on a Windows PC from an Android smartphone. Click to view larger image.

Another strategy is to bring the presentation on a USB flash drive or email it to someone at the office where you're headed, then load it on a laptop there. Once it's all loaded on a computer that's connected to the projector, you can control it from your smartphone with a presentation remote-control app.

I used Signal Beach Software's ShowDirector PowerPoint Remote for Android, which works with Microsoft PowerPoint running on a Windows PC. There's a free trial that limits you to showing 10 slides, but the full app costs only $5.

After loading the ShowDirector server software on the computer connected to the projector, I fired up the Android app to wirelessly connect the Nitro HD phone to the PC. I used Bluetooth to link them, but the software can also use a Wi-Fi connection.

The program's interface has buttons for moving forward and back through the slides, as well as rearranging their order. I could also adjust the volume as I roamed around the room. In other words, I was in control of the show.

What about other mobile platforms? Windows Phone smartphones come with PowerPoint Mobile included, and iPhones can use Keynote ($10) to show a presentation. When it comes to BlackBerry devices, though, you'll need a separate box called BlackBerry Presenter that costs $200 and plugs into a projector or a TV.

Printing

Epson printer app
Need to print from your smartphone to an Epson printer? Epson's iPrint app is the best way to do it. Click to view larger image.

There's no avoiding it: Sometimes you just need paper copies. After being frustrated by using several general-purpose printing apps for Android phones and tablets, I've found the only thing that works reliably is to use the apps that the individual printer companies have provided for their hardware. They're free and work well for everything from printing a boarding pass or Web page to creating emergency business cards.

At the moment, I have apps loaded on the Nitro HD for Brother, Canon, Epson and Lexmark printers. All three printer manufacturers offer similar apps for the iPhone.

Chances are that either your hotel's concierge or its business center will have a printer that works with one of them. If all else fails, I have been able to print at a local Kinko's or other print shop.

Each app generally works in much the same way. It starts by scanning the area for a wireless printer. After I select a printer, the software does the rest. All I have to do is wait.

Some of the apps, like those from Epson and Brother, also let you scan documents if the printer has a scanner, making it an imaging two-way street. (story continues)

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