Why own one mobile device when you can own three? There are two models for mobile device ownership. The first is the One Device Lifestyle. Most of my friends at work go by this. Almost everyone here owns a smartphone that sports a 5 inch screen. A recent NY Times article made the case for the marriage of the smartphone and the tablet (“phablet”).

Have you ever seen someone talk on a phablet? They look like aliens from Star Trek. Only a few years ago, engaging in an animated conversation with earbuds in your ears surrounded by strangers was weird; today it is the norm (even if it’s not my style). There is a strong case to be made for owning one large smartphone/phablet. In this article, I will make the case for owning 3 mobile devices.

I Love My Tablet

I use my tablet a lot more than my smartphone. I love reading CD reviews on AllMusic.com before I fall asleep. When I listen to music in the family room, it’s nice to open a casual game on my tablet and do two passive things at once. I can’t focus on a Stan Getz saxophone solo while whacking zombies or dragons on my PlayStation 3.

When I ride the train from Herzliya every morning, it is a lot easier to read the news on my 10 inch Galaxy Tab than on a smartphone. Sometimes I get in a few games of backgammon or a few clicks on Paradise Island. The screen size makes a huge difference and I see my life as “Before Tablet” and “After Tablet.”

The Smartphone Compromise

My smartphone, on the other hand, is less important to me. It is essentially a phone with a few apps. I like the GPS “where is my bus” type apps that we have here in Israel. When I have time to kill, I open my CNN app and read the news. But I don’t want a huge smartphone that barely fits in my pocket. In fact, I like being able to forget about it most of the day.

I own a Galaxy S1 Mini and plan on upgrading to an S4 Mini once the price hits the $300 range this summer. My S1 Mini lacks a quality screen by today’s standards, but it quietly hibernates in my pocket when I’m not using it. My socks are worth more; who’s gonna steal it?

The Third Device

For a third device, I recommend a cheap laptop or Chromebook. I bought the Acer C720 Chromebook last month while visiting family in Florida. Why? My Chromebook lets me go online and write from a cafe or on the couch at home. When I am inspired to write at home, I used to have to run to my PC. For $199-$299, a Chromebook is the perfect third device.

A Chromebook may not have a touch screen (though some do), but make no mistake – Chromebooks are mobile devices. With 11.6 inch screens and weighing 1.25 kilos (2.76 pounds), Chromebooks allow mobility for very little cost. Unless you really need it, skip the expensive and heavy laptop which you will hesitate to take with you.

The 3 Device Bottom Line

A $350 tablet plus a $300 smartphone followed by a $199 Chromebook will cost about the same as a $500-$900 killer smartphone. But you don’t have to buy all 3 at once. Today, my smartphone is nearing the end of its lifecycle. My 10 inch Galaxy Tab 1 is two years away from retirement. A Chromebook or internet-focused laptop should last for years.

If you go with the 3 device lifestyle, you can plan on buying a new device every year and a half to two years. Skip the hardcore smartphone and gain the advantage of a 10 inch tablet and a lightweight laptop.

This article was written on an Acer C720 Chromebook.

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