Wouldn't it be great if you could have a complete PC you could stick in your pocket? There are a handful of “micro PCs” available now, but they'll set you back a couple grand (or more) by the time you leave the store — hard to justify unless you can make it work as your primary computer. If you're on a beer budget but would still like to have more than just files in your pocket, Seagate Technology's (www.seagate.com) FreeAgentGo external USB hard drive is an interesting twist on the typical “storage only” external hard drive.

What makes it different is the included Ceedo software, which not only lets you use the drive as external backup and storage but also lets you load and run complete Windows applications right from the unit. Using Ceedo, you can duplicate your desktop setup on any modern Windows PC (say, at a client's house) simply by plugging your FreeAgentGo into the USB port.

The drive itself is completely USB-powered, which means there's no AC adapter to lug around. There's a catch, though: One USB port can't supply enough power by itself, so don't lose the special USB “Y” cord that comes with the unit.

Before you write to tell me that your particular combination of applications wouldn't install or run, let me warn you: I tested FreeAgentGo with Microsoft Office, QuickBooks, and Google SketchUp, and all worked fine. However, that's not to say that your complex CAD program or even a contact management database will work correctly, so be sure you test carefully with the software you need to use before taking FreeAgentGo to your next big presentation.

The hard drive comes in three capacities ranging from 80GB to 160GB (gigabytes) and costs between $80 and $160. — Joe Stoddard is an industry consultant and the director of builder operations for Dynami Solutions. Reach him online at www.joestoddard.com.