Mobile software for vacationing workaholics

Portable software and remote access apps for laptops and PDA/smart phones help users who absolutely must check into work over their summer vacations.

Productivity on vacation with a PDA

There is a particular social type that can't completely relax on vacation without knowing that the means to access their work is nearby. For that courageous bunch, undeterred by their family's best efforts to retreat to the least technological of leafy hamlets possible, is a collection of top-rated mobile productivity software. Happy Fourth of July.

Take data with you
The $50 price tag on Documents to Go may seem steep for the casual consumer of Microsoft Office documents, but for Palm users who might need to view Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations by the light of the fireworks, it could save your vacation.

Those productive vacationers among us without PDAs will be better served by PortableApps. 512MB provides utilities, a preconfigured Web browser, an office suite, a calendar, an e-mail client, and an instant messenger that launch from and save back to a portable drive. Users simply plug an iPod or flash memory drive, for example, into any computer to quickly access much-needed programs and files. No cumbersome laptop necessary.

PortableApps Lite trims down by replacing Portable with AbiWord Portable for word processing, which keeps it light enough for a 256MB drive.

Of course, if you just want to capture your business contacts and appointments before you embark, synchronizing software like Laplink PDAsync 4 syncs both, plus productivity software for the Pocket PC, Palm OS, and Sony Ericsson phones.

Access files remotely
Remote access apps (also known as remote administration) allow users to control one computer from any other. Originally intended for network administrators, plenty of apps now cater to casual users looking to run applications, retrieve e-mail, and manage the files on one computer from another location.

BlackBerry users can access their hard drives remotely with TSMobile, RDM+, and VNC+ for mobile, the latter of which works on all J2ME phones.

I'm InTouch makes remote access software in multiple flavors, including I'm InTouch Palm and I'm InTouch PocketPC. Wireless Database is another option for the PocketPC. Owners of Symbian and J2ME devices users can look to RDM+ and TSMobiles for digging through files from fairer climes.

While handhelds have their conveniences, laptop-luggers shouldn't miss their chance to dive into productivity when the need arises. Seth Rosenblatt offers his two cents on three remote access apps for Windows.

Happy worki...ahem, vacationing!

About Jessica Dolcourt

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.