Nov 14 2012 - Road warrior is the term used for business travelers who are frequently on the road between destinations and rely heavily upon their laptop computers to get their work done and keep in contact with the office. They rely so heavily upon their devices that any downtime is critical. For them, keeping things light and simple are generally best but their are a number of things to make life on the road easier. Here are some ideas of computer related items that would make great gifts for the frequent laptop user.
While there are lots of compact laptops on the market, sometimes all a business traveler might need is something compact that can check email, browse the web, editing some documents and video conferencing. Tablets are a great item for business travelers because they offer extremely long running times and compact designs. They can also double as entertainment for those long flights either via watching a movie or reading an ebook. In fact, many business travelers can even use a tablet in place of a laptop for business trips which can save having to carry a lot. The tablet market is very diverse in terms of price and features. Tablets range from as little as $200 for more entertainment styled models to over $500 for larger utilitarian options.
One of the biggest problems for laptop users when traveling is power. Laptop batteries can only run for so long before they need recharging. The ability to charge up those batteries and power up a laptop while in an airplane or car can provide that extra edge without the need to carry extra and very bulky laptop batteries. The Kensington Auto/Air Power Inverter is a compact inverter that allows a standard 120V power receptacle from a 12V cigarette lighter adapter for a car outlet or standard airline power ports. The 150W power rating allows it to handle even most laptops except the large desktop replacements meant for gaming. In addition to this, it also features two USB ports for charging phones, tablets and other devices that might power from the port. Definitely something useful to any traveler with limited charging options. Prices range from $50 to $70.
Laptops are one of the number one targets for thieves in airports and hotels. They are valuable and relatively easy to take. Most laptop computers feature a small slot on them that allow a locking device to be attached to them. The Kensington MicroSaver DS Ultra Thin Notebook Lock is such a device that allows a laptop to be tied down to a hard to remove object such as a fixed desk, plumbing fixtures, airport chairs, etc. This is a great device for a traveler because it is relatively small but features some impressive security features such as disc-locks, 3 layer cable and t-bay locking mechanism. Priced around $40.
Traveling by air became a huge has for those carrying a laptop computer thanks to the TSA rules. Every time you go through a security check point, it is necessary to remove your laptop from the bag. There are now a set of various bags that are called checkpoint friendly or clear scan bags. These are bags approved by the TSA and receive a TSA logo allowing the bag to pass through x-ray machines without the need for removing the laptop. The Targus Zip-Thru line of bags is one of the first of the bags to be approved. They are available in a variety of sizes and styles although the Corporate Traveler is their most popular design. Prices range from $40 to over $100.
Laptop pointing devices may have improved over the years, but frankly the trackpads and pointers are still quite difficult to use over extended periods of time. Their location make them prone to accidental clicking or movement as well. A wireless mouse provides a much more ergonomic pointing device which is great for working extended periods of time. Many laptops now feature a Bluetooth wireless adapter built into them. Because of this, a Bluetooth mouse is much more convenient to use than a standard wireless mouse that requires a separate wireless dongle. The Microsoft Sculpt Touch Mouse is an excellent touch as the compact mouse also features a touch scroll surface on the top that supports Windows 8 gestures with PCs as well as RT based tablets. Prices range from $33 to $40.
While many laptops have Bluetooth built-in, there are still many that do not. Bluetooth is extremely useful for the laptop because it allows the use of wireless peripherals such as a mouse or keyboard. Even more useful though is the ability to tether a laptop to a mobile phone. This can allow a laptop to access the internet when Wi-Fi or wired networks are not available. The IOGEAR GBU521 allows any laptop that has an available USB 2.0 port to support Bluetooth devices even version 4.0 devices. It's relatively small size is also great because it doesn't stick out too far from the laptop where one might risk bumping it and damaging the adapter or worse, the laptop. Priced between $10 and $20.
While laptop computer hard drives have increased in size dramatically, the need for extra storage is always something that a traveler can use. An external hard drive can be useful in many different ways. It could be used to back up the data in the event of a problem with the primary system drive or it could just be used as additional storage. They can also be used to separate a company's files and data from personal files that the road warrior may wish to carry with themselves. Western Digital has had a great level of success in the hard drive market of late and this translates to their external drives. The Western Digital My Passport Essential 750GB will run off a single USB port and is extremely portable. It uses the new USB 3.0 port for very fast transfer speeds but its backward compatible with USB 2.0. Prices start around $90.
Traveling on airplanes can be very distracting. The loud noises from the engines and other passengers can prevent a traveler from either trying to work on their laptop or just watch a movie to unwind. Having a pair of headphones that can reduce this noise can really make or break a flight. Active noise cancelling options work best but are also quite expensive. The Sennheiser CX 275s are a passive noise reduction in-ear set that do a decent job. The best part is that this also doubles as a headset with its inline microphone. It is compatible with any media device or smartphone with a standard 3.5mm audio jack. Priced around $70.
There are times when using a laptop in a public place such as an airport or a coffee shop that you just don't want other people looking over your shoulder to see what you might be working on. Privacy filters are a layer of film that is placed over the laptop screen that give the display a much narrower viewing angle. This allows the user who is looking directly at the screen to see what they are working on but not someone at a different angle. 3M is a company that has been producing such filters for years so companies can protect their information from being viewed by other parties. They are available in a variety of different sizes for the different screen sizes. Prices range from $30 to over $100 depending on style and size.