I am not a list maker, but when it comes to certain items that I have to pack, my laptop is way at the top. It is pretty much on pare with the baby’s pacifier, maybe higher. So you can imagine my shock and dismay when I was in the TSA line (airport security) last week at 6am, throwing my liquids in one bin, and went to grab my laptop to put in another bin and my computer wasn’t there. Where was it? I panicked, and then I mentally kicked myself. It was sitting on my desk charging up for our flight.
I had left my laptop out assuming I would never in a million years forget my precious lifeline to everything I had to accomplish that week, not to mention the calendar I failed to sync with my phone before we left. I didn’t know how to function without that computer. I started looking up how much it would cost to ship the computer to my hotel in Mexico, while simultaneously texting my husband to freak out that I had left my computer behind.
The final result was that it would cost me over $175 to ship my laptop to me in Mexico, and it wouldn’t arrive until we were already halfway through our trip. My computer wasn’t THAT vital to my trip. Yes, I had a ton of work to get done, not to mention I wanted to be able to let the kids Skype with their dad while we were away. In the end we came up with a plan B.
We were stopping over in LA for a night so we could catch the one flight down to Loreto the next morning. There was a Best Buy (a big electronics store here in the USA) close to the airport. I would simply buy a cheap laptop to bring down with me. This may sound extravagant, but at the time I knew I needed that laptop to get a few key tasks accomplished. The bigger problem was that I didn’t have my programs loaded on the new machine, and I couldn’t afford to buy a laptop AND the necessary software.
Enter Office 365
Earlier this year I won a copy of Office 365 from fellow blogger Camels & Chocolate (a great blog you should check out by the way!) I had played around a little with the software, but hadn’t been able to jump in too deeply and appreciate some of its finer points. Mexico showed me just why this package was necessary for the absentminded (and even the highly organized) traveler. You see I could take Office with me anywhere.
With my subscription I received a 1-year subscription of Office 365 Home Premium that I could install on up to 5 machines, whether it was a PC, Mac or a PC tablet (sorry, no iPads yet gang.) As soon as we got to our hotel I downloaded the Office Suite so I would be ready to head over the border the next morning.
Office 365 comes with the usual Office programs many of us know and love like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and OneNote. What makes it different is that there is also access to 20GBsworth of cloud storage (more on this in a minute), and 60 Skype World minutes per month. The Skype minutes are worth the price alone if you regularly travel and need to stay connected back home. You can still video chat for free, but the world minutes let you call any phone in over 40 counties.
SkyDrive, the Office cloud storage that gives you 20GBs of storage for your documents, photos, and videos, is what really saved the day, and my wallet, on this trip. Thanks to that extra storage, something I didn’t have up until now, I was able to upload everything I had written and all of my images onto my SkyDrive account on the PC laptop in Mexico, and have my husband download all 1200+ images onto my Mac laptop at home. I ended up wiping the PC laptop and returning it in LA as we flew through. Shhhh… don’t tell customer service!
Other new additions to Office that come in handy are the layout possibilities with Word. I am used to only using programs like Adobe InDesign, but obviously I don’t always need something that powerful, or have access to it. With the new Word I can design a beautiful page to send out to clients, editors, and friends, even when I am on the go. For those of you who are trying to dive into design, but don’t want to get an undergrad degree in it, Word is a great way to get your feet wet and play with page layout.
I’ll admit that the idea of paying a yearly subscription for software is new to me, but this seems to be where technology is going. Video game consoles have been doing it for more than a few years, Adobe is doing it with a some of their programs, and so now is Microsoft. You get regular updates, and a few extra perks not offered to the one-time downloaders. If you normally buy software updates this may just solve your problems and save you a little cash in the process, but you are the master of your own budget and can make that decision for yourself.
- Pricing: As of March 2013, a one-year subscription to Office 365 Home Premium costs $99.99 per year or $9.99 per month (download on up to 5 computers).
Disclaimer: Many thanks to Waggener Edstrom and Office 365 for providing a copy of their latest subscription service to my readers. Although I did win a copy from another blogger I was not required or even asked to write a specific review. My opinions are always my own; when they aren’t you will be the first to know.