There are plenty of gifts you can give to computer users that will tickle their fancy, but not all of them are ideal for people who are always on the go. Sure, a 5.1-channel sound system is great for home use, but nobody wants to carry that around on a business trip or on vacation. Certainly there are better ideas for mobile users. Let’s run through some gift ideas that are perfect for your favorite road warriors.
You never know for sure when your phone, MP3 player or camera will need a charge, and even if you did, there’s no guarantee that you’d be near an outlet when you needed one, especially if you’re braving the great outdoors. The KIWI Choice U-Powered Solar & USB Portable Charger is essentially a 2000 mAh battery pack with built-in solar panels. In sunny conditions, the device will charge itself fully in about 17 hours. The device can also be charged from a USB port, car adapter or wall adapter.
Once the KIWI Choice itself is charged, the 11 included power tips that come with it ensure that you can charge USB gadgets, GPS devices, digital cameras and lots more. The U-Powered Solar & USB Portable Charger has a lifespan of more than 1,000 charge/discharge cycles, and it will retain its charge for at least 6 months. The compact device weighs only 4.4 ounces, so it travels easily.
The Goal Zero Guide 10 Adventure Kit contains a solar panel that unfolds to catch the rays and charge batteries and mobile devices out in the field. The kit includes a Nomad 7 folding solar panel, a Guide 10 rechargeable battery pack, an Ultra Charge Solar Cord, a 12V cigarette lighter adapter and four AA rechargeable batteries. Appearing larger in pictures than it really is, the solar panel measures 6 x 9 x 1 inch when folded and 19 x 9 x 0.1 inch unfolded.
The Guide 10 battery pack can be charged by the Nomad 7 solar panel in 1.5 hours, or by USB power in 6 hours. The kit can charge AA and AAA batteries, cell phones and more. The Guide 10 battery pack, when fully charged, can recharge a cell phone up to three times. A built-in LED flashlight runs for more than 20 hours on a full charge and makes it easy to get settled in once the sun goes down.
It is unfortunate that the speakers built into most notebook and netbook computers sound weak and tinny. Fortunately, Altec Lansing has addressed the problem with the Orbit USB Stereo Speakers. The Orbit speakers pack a punch when your notebook’s built-in speakers fail to do so. The small size of the Orbit USB Stereo Speakers makes them ideally suited for use with a notebook or netbook computer, but they can also be used with a desktop computer.
The Orbit speakers have a built-in USB cable that connects them to a computer's USB port. The speakers receive power and sound through the USB port, so they never need batteries or an AC adapter. A retractable stand on each speaker makes it easy to position them the way you like, and the speakers latch together for easy transport in their included travel case.
Business travelers need to print things just as often as those who work in the same office every day, but they can never rely on there always being a printer around when they need one. A portable printer, such as Canon’s Pixma iP100 Photo Printer, is one solution to this problem. The Pixma iP100 is a mobile printer with a five-color ink system. It prints at speeds of up to 20 pages per minute (ppm) in black, and 14 ppm in color, with a resolution of up to 9600 x 1200 dpi. You can print everyday business documents or dazzling 4 x 6-inch lab quality borderless color photos in about 50 seconds. You can also print from any PictBridge-compatible camera or camcorder without needing a computer.
An ink-saver mode, combined with the ability to print multiple pages on one sheet of paper, help conserve both ink and paper, allowing you to travel with fewer supplies. When an AC power outlet is nowhere to be found, an optional lithium-ion battery will help print nearly 300 pages per charge, and an optional automobile power adapter lets you power the printer from a vehicle’s 12-volt power socket. The portable printer is 12.7 inches wide by 2.4 inches high by 7.2 inches deep, and it weighs 4.4 pounds.
There was a time, not too long ago, when traveling with a projector meant lugging around a bulky, heavy hard case, and you usually needed a cart to bear the load. But projectors have now advanced to the point where you can buy one that fits in your pocket. The Optoma Technology PK201 Pico Pocket Projector is one such example. Roughly the size of a remote control, and a 5.6-ounce flyweight to boot, the PK201 can project an image as large as five and a half feet, measured diagonally. You can use it to project business presentations, slide shows, movies, video games and more, wherever your travels take you. An optional iPod kit lets you project directly from an iPod or iPhone.
The PK201 uses a Texas Instruments DLP imaging system and a 20 lumen LED lamp to project an NTSC, PAL, 720p or 1080i video signal on any white surface. The projector has a native resolution of 854 x 480 pixels and a 2000:1 contrast ratio. Its LED lamp has a 20,000-hour lifespan. It has 28MB of internal memory and a Micro SD slot that accepts cards up to 16GB, enough to store countless documents and photos and hours of movies right in the projector. The PK201’s Lithium-Ion battery is good for about an hour of use; it can be recharged from the included AC adapter or a USB port, or you can run it on AC power.
As popular as optical drives have become in notebook computers—albeit that many no longer come with one—most notebook computers don’t have Blu-ray drives. Some DVD drives can read Blu-ray discs but can’t write to blank ones, and the popular, affordable netbooks have cast off built-in optical drives in exchange for sleeker profiles. If you want to add Blu-ray compatibility to a notebook computer, or simply add an optical drive to any computer that doesn’t have one, the easiest way to do it is to attach an external USB drive. The Aluratek USB 2.0 External Slim Multi-Format 6X Blu-Ray Reader / Writer is a good example.
Aluratek’s tray-loading external drive is compatible with Mac and Windows computers, and it can read, write and copy all varieties of Blu-Ray, DVDs and CDs. It’s a plug-and-play drive so there are no drivers to install. It comes with Nero's Digital Video Editing Software, compatible only with Windows computers, which makes a simple process of editing video and burning data to Blu-Ray, DVDs or CDs. Blu-ray discs hold 25GB per side, or more than five times the amount that DVDs can hold.
As much as you can’t predict the availability of printers on business trips, you also never know whether you’ll have access to a scanner or copier. But with the Brother DSmobile 600 Portable Scanner on hand, you’ll never have to worry. The DSMobile 600 is a 600-dpi color scanner that’s no bigger than the cardboard tube found inside a roll of paper towels. It weighs about 12 ounces.
The DSmobile 600 sheet-feed scanner features a USB interface for power and data, eliminating the need for a battery or power adapter. It can scan items ranging in size from business cards to legal size documents; you just have to feed pages in manually, one at a time. The unit can scan in 48-bit color, 8-bit grayscale and black and white, and it can scan directly to Adobe Acrobat (.pdf format). The scanner comes with all the software you need to scan and organize pages, as well as a TWAIN driver that makes it fully compatible with any TWAIN-compliant application.
Sometimes all you need to meet your deadlines is a little assistance. That assistance could come in the form of the Wizcom Technologies InfoScanTS Elite Pen Scanner. The Pen Scanner is a handheld scanning device that can scan and store up to 500 pages of text in its own memory—you don’t need a computer to use this device. Later on, when you have the time, you can transfer your scanned text to a computer as a text file. Not only can the Pen Scanner store scanned text, but it can also give you definitions of scanned words from the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. It can even read scanned text to you in English through the built-in speaker or the included headphones.
Another convenient application for using the Pen Scanner is to scan text directly into Windows applications. It supports five languages including English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish. The pen has a small built-in touch screen that can display up to five lines of text, or serve as a virtual keyboard for manually inserting words. The user interface can be adjusted for right- or left-handed users.
Anyone who becomes proficient at using a mouse to edit text, for example, will find using a touch pad on a notebook computer to be a nuisance; it just slows you down. It is clearly better to travel with a mouse. But everything you add to your travel bag adds weight, and simply makes your travels more grueling. The ideal solution is a travel mouse, one that’s smaller and lighter than a typical mouse.
The Verbatim Wireless Mini Travel Mouse is an optical mouse that uses 2.4 GHz wireless technology to communicate with a tiny receiver that plugs into a computer’s USB port. The mouse is powered by a single AAA battery, so it’s easy enough to keep a spare or two with you at all times. Backward compatible with USB 1.1, the USB 2.0 mouse is compatible with Windows 7, Vista and XP operating systems.
No matter where you use your mobile gear, it pays to keep everything clean and in tip-top working order. The Lenspen LapTop-Pro Ultra Kit includes some basic cleaning supplies that you should always have on hand. To begin with, the kit includes ten individually wrapped screen-conditioning tissues, or wipes, that quickly and safely remove dirt, dust and fingerprints from your notebook’s LCD screen. You also get a microfiber cloth that’s soft enough to rub grease and grime off CDs and DVDs, eyeglasses, jewelry and more.
The Lenspen kit also includes a double-sided cleaning tool to remove heavier soil. One side houses an optical-grade chamois impregnated with a dry-cleaning compound, and the other side houses two brushes that are used to remove crumbs and other debris from keyboards. The last item is a mini lens cleaner saturated with a dry cleaning compound designed to remove fingerprints, dust and grime from cell phones and other small gadgets that have built-in displays.
When it comes time to pack all of your mobile gear, it’s best to put everything in a case that makes things easy for you. Case Logic’s 17-inch Security Friendly Rolling Laptop Case is designed to make traveling with your laptop in today’s hectic and paranoid world as hassle-free as possible. Designed to fit laptops with displays as large as 17 inches, the Case Logic bag includes a TSA-approved laptop sleeve that’s easy to remove from the bag and place on an airport security x-ray conveyor belt. The sleeve provides an unobstructed x-ray view of the computer while protecting it from the bumps and knocks it’s sure to receive.
Ball-bearing wheels allow the bag to glide effortlessly across hard floors, concrete and carpeting as you tow it along by the locking telescopic handle. The rear compartment of the bag is roomy enough to hold a change of clothing on an overnight business trip so you can travel with just one bag. A file compartment protects all of your papers and folders and a front pocket contains an organization panel with room for all of your accessories, cell phone, MP3 player, keys, nail clippers and other personal effects.
Everyone’s got a USB flash drive, but when you depend on one while traveling, you want one that’s rugged, dependable and affordable. The Kingston Data Traveler R400 USB Flash Drive meets those expectations. Housed in a rubberized red-and-black enclosure, the rugged drive is easy to spot in the bottom of your bag. The R400 drive is fast, too, with a 25MB/s read speed and a 10MB/s write speed. It offers plug-and-play compatibility with Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems. The R400 is backed by a 5-year warranty and 24/7 tech support.
It’s important to back up your files. It always has been and always will be. It’s even more important when you’re traveling, because once you leave you might not be able to replace any lost files. The Lexar Echo ZE Backup Flash Drive is one of the smallest backup solutions in the world, making it ideal for use with notebook computers, or any computer that has a USB port.
The Lexar USB backup drive is as tiny as they come—no bigger than the plug on a USB cable—yet it can back up lots of important data. Of course, unimportant data can also be backed up. The tiny drive comes preloaded with Lexar Echo backup software that can automatically encrypt files and back them up while in use. It’s also easy to restore saved versions files, eliminating the worry of overwriting or deleting files.
If you’re the type of person who is always misplacing things, you need help. Help from Loc8tor Lite, that is. Loc8tor Lite is a set that includes a credit-card size handset and two tiny homing tags. You simply attach a homing tag to something you often misplace, such as your keys, phone or remote control. When you can’t find the item, you simply use the handset to find your way to the missing device—to within one inch—by way of audible and visual cues. It is critical, though, that you not misplace the handset. The device has a 400-foot range. Homing tags can be purchased separately if you need more than two.
No matter how careful you are in packing every cable you might need, there always seems to be at least one important cable that you forget to bring. By keeping Belkin’s 7-in-1 Retractable Cable Travel Pack with you at all times, you’ll always have every cable you need.
The 7-in-1 Cable Pack consists of three retractable cables and four adapters. You get a 2.6-foot USB cable, a 3.6-foot CAT5e cable and a 4.3-foot modem cable (telephone cord). You also get a set of USB adapters and a crossover adapter, so you’ll be able to configure a USB or network cable to meet your every need. A carrying case is also included.
The last thing you want to do when you’re on a business trip is run out of storage space on your notebook computer, especially if you have to bring lots of data back with you. A portable hard drive will prevent this from becoming an issue.
Seagate’s 500GB FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra-Portable Hard Drive is a great way to go. The 500GB hard drive features a USB 2.0 interface for universal compatibility. Optional connector adaptors let you add USB 3.0, FireWire 800 or eSATA connectivity. The drive comes pre-loaded with backup and encryption software, to keep your important data safe and sound. The drive is PC and Mac compatible.
If you have questions about these nifty little gadgets, please feel free to post them in the Comments section below. We look forward to hearing from you.