Do you know why Hewlett-Packard is giving away two laptops to 25 lucky winners?
The answer is this: HP is promoting the concept of companion notebooks. The idea is that you would use a high end laptop like the HP dv6 as your main computer (bye-bye desktop computer) and the HP Mini 110 as your netbook (hello ultra tiny notebook) when you’re on the go with the kids. As I mentioned in previous posts, the dv6 has a big 16″ screen, but it’s a bit cumbersome to lug around everywhere (especially if you have little ones with you). On the other hand, the Mini has a small 10″ display, but it’s extremely mobile (if you’re daring you can have your kid can carry it for you). With the dv6-Mini companion notebooks, you can go big at home and small on the road.
I like the idea of a companion notebooks set. However, a problem with a multi-PC setup is keeping track of files on two computers. When you’re ready to go mobile with your netbook, you have to remember to copy files (work documents, photos, videos, mp3 and iTune songs, emails, browser bookmarks, etc) from your main laptop over to the smaller notebook. And if you make changes to these files on your mobile netbook, you have to remember to copy them back to your main laptop. This is a major hassle if you have a lot of files you want to sync between the two computers.
This is where software like Syncables Desktop comes in handy. With Syncables, files are synchronized automatically for you. It can transfer and sync content to your desktop, laptop, and USB devices. You can also use Syncables Desktop to publish photos and videos of your kids to sites like Facebook, YouTube, and SmugMug. Syncables Desktop also lets you sync your emails, which is very handy. Having to sync my emails across two computers is the reason why I switched to a browser based email client. Now with Syncables, I can go back to a desktop mail client like Microsoft Outlook if I wanted to.
Syncables Desktop is pre-installed on the HP Mini. But in order to synchronize files with another computer like the dv6, you need to have Syncables installed on each computer. This is the part where I ran into trouble. The installation instructions are buried at the bottom of the welcome screen. If you clicked past the welcome screen without reading it (I do this a lot), you’ll miss out on the instructions for installing Syncables on another computer. I clicked on almost every button in the main menu before I found the installation instructions in the Help menu (I should have gone there first, but my kids have made me dumbererer).
To install Syncables on a laptop, you have to copy an installation file to the notebook. Maybe it’s just me, but I think it would be more convenient to download the software to the pc instead of manually transferring the install file from the Mini to the dv6 via a flash drive [note: I could only find a download link to Syncables Sampler Edition, which limits syncing to seven files at a time]. [Update: I just found out the reason you can’t download the full version is because the software is currently exclusive to HP customers.]
Configuring Syncables is fairly straightforward. As you can see from the screen shot below, all you have to do is check off the appropriate boxes.
In the Sync menu, you can specify if you want to sync back and forth between multiple computers or limit the transfer to one direction. You can configure Syncables to sync once every hour, day, week, or month.
As you can see in the next screen shot, you can specify only one location for each category of files. So if you have documents located in two completely different folders, then you will have to move one of the folder into a sub-directory of the other folder.
You can view the contents of the files that will be shared via the My Computer Library in Syncables. From there, you can also sync manually by clicking the sync button (lower right corner of the screen).
After you are done setting up your computers for Syncables, the software will automatically sync your files for you. In my test, I noticed that the Mini had one photo and one document more than the dv6 after the sync. For a reason probably related to the timestamp of the files, the extra document and photo were not copied over to the dv6 from the netbook. I took care of the problem by re-saving the extra document and photo on the Mini (new time stamp). After that, Syncables correctly synchronized all the files on both laptops.
In summary, Syncables is a nice tool for synchronizing files on multiple computers. Once you followed the installation instructions buried at the bottom of the screen, you’ll find the software easy to use. However, you should compared the files count in the My Computer Library on both notebooks to determine if the software is syncing correctly. Syncables Desktop is available for only $30.