Travel Gear That Works – Laptop Accessories

Travel Gear That Works

Laptop Accessories

 

Apple MBP Full

For today’s traveler it doesn’t seem to matter if you are a “Road Warrior” – working as you travel, or if you are a casual traveler – enjoying the journey.  Travelers today are all “staying connected” in one way or another.  I’m not hear to judge whether this is a good thing or bad – you may have your own opinion on that matter.  But it is a fact.  Travelers are toting all sorts of electronic and tech gear with them as they hit the road.  Phones, tablets, game systems, cameras, even drones are popping up in people’s backpacks and carry-ons.  A small, travel-worthy laptop computer is perhaps one of the most versatile tech devices travelers select as one of their primary travel devices.

In order to get full benefit from a travel laptop most travelers have found it helpful to add a few “extras”, accessories to their laptop travel kit.  I’ve recently joined the legion of laptop toting travelers (click here for related article), upping my travel writing and photography game from my iPad Air to a MacBook Pro. In doing so I too have found it helpful to add a few accessories.  My goal has been to find accessories which are worth the extra cost, hassle, bulk, and weight of adding them to my travel gear.   Here’s what I’ve come up with.   My current Travel Gear That Works – Laptop Accessory List. There aren’t many – I like to travel light. The items I have selected are, of course, specific to my laptop – the MacBook Pro. But the type of items should be applicable to laptops of all sorts, and generally the companies mentioned make accessories for not only MacBooks but other laptops as well. I’ve included references to these as well.

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Laptop Protective Case

Mosiso case full

MacBook Pro Plastic Shell by Mosiso – internet image

Protect Your Investment – Use A Case

My MacBook Pro is a lovely piece of tech with a sleek and smooth design.  I love the grey brushed metal appearance. In a nice safe environment I use it without any case.  The idea of covering it with a case just sort of makes me shudder. But when I travel – well, I know things happen.  The laptop gets thrown in the backpack, tossed in the security screening bin at the airport, etc.  I decided that when I travel I wanted a bit of protection for my laptop in an attempt to keep it looking good – at least for awhile. ( Yes, I know there are those that feel the dings and nicks accumulated by a travel computer should be valued as a badge of honor – but for the moment at least I think I’ll just enjoy an unscarred laptop as long as I can – thank you very much.)

With travel protection in mind, I selected a thin, hard plastic case by MosisoPriced at less than $20.00, it is cost effective and provides a thin but valuable layer of protection between my laptop’s beautiful metal finish and the sometimes brutal world of travel. Mosiso makes cases of different styles for a variety of laptops.  A variety of colors and designs are available.

Apple Mosiso Case

The hardshell case I selected  comes with a keyboard cover, bag for charger, and screen protecter.  I didn’t think I’d use the keyboard cover but have now installed it and love it.  You can see it in the photo of my MacBook Pro at the top of this article.  It’s a very thin, rubbery membrane that lies snuggly atop the keyboard. It doesn’t impact typing, it’s attractive. And it also keeps various types of travel grunge ( crumbs, dust, dirt, etc.) out of the underlying keyboard.  The cover simply lifts off for cleaning.  Very simple.  (And the  charger bag and screen protector? I admit I’ve left those in the box.)

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Precision Editing Device

Apple Mouse

Apple Mouse

Almost without exception, today’s laptops have track pads and / or touch screens.  Most travelers find these perfectly fine for their needs.  Frankly, I thought I would as well. But one of the reasons I moved from the iPad to the laptop was a need to do more demanding photo processing and editing while on the road.  Photo editing with programs such as Photoshop requires more control and precision than I was able to obtain using the trackpad.  At home I use a mouse for much of my editing on my iMac ( For really complex images there are also times when I use a Wacom Digital Photo Editing Tablet – there are a variety of styles.) I’ve now added an Apple Mouse to my travel gear.  Fortunately it has a very slim and light weight design so it travels well. I’ve found it to be worth it’s weight not only for precision photo editing but also for making my writing tasks just a bit easier as well.

If you are a non-Apple user, there are a variety of small, travel-worthy editing devices available.  One of my favorites is by Logitech – the Wireless Mini-Mouse. It is reasonably priced @ $12.00 and comes with a tiny “nano receiver” which is small enough to stay plugged in to your laptop during travel.  If you prefer, you can also store it in the mouse itself.

Logitech mouse

Logitech Mini-Mouse / internet image

Setup is simple. You just plug in the nano receiver and start using your mouse. I use Logitech wireless keyboards and mice with my Windows desktop and laptops and find them to be very dependable.

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Port Adapter / Multiplier

Apple Satechi top

Satechi USB “C” Port Adapter with flexible cord

There are many laptops which have ample ports for connecting a variety of external devices – smartphone, camera, SD card reader, external hard drive, etc.  But it seems the newer laptops, and especially the smaller laptops have fewer ports.  And the type of ports vary as well.  As a result, travelers frequently have a need to have hubs with adapters and / or multipliers to connect devices to their laptops.

The need for a port adapter is especially critical for users of new MacBooks.  Apple, in it’s infinite, and to me at least, irritating wisdom, has chosen to outfit it’s new laptops only with USB “C” ports.  Now these ports are fine in many ways.  They are multi-functional and fast.  But honestly, who has any devices (as yet at least) that use a USB “C” connection?   I don’t – that’s for sure.  Even my iPhone, iPad, and iMac lack USB “C” ports / connectors not to mention my SD and compact card readers as well as my back up hard drive.  As a result, I must have a port adapter to make connections with my new MacBook Pro.

Satechi makes a wide assortment of tech accessories and peripherals for computers and laptops.  For my needs I selected their Satechi Aluminum Multi-Port Adapter for MacBook 12 and New MacBook Pro – in Space Gray of course to match my gear.   It includes ports for: 4K HDMI (30HZ), Type-C Pass Through, Giabit Ethernet, SD/Micro Card Reader, and 3 USB3.0 Ports.

Apple Satechi front

Apple Satechi back

Apple Satechi Side

Satechi actually offers two versions of this adapter.  One uses a “Flush Fit Design” which has a fixed USB-C plug that inserts directly into the laptop port allowing the adapter to fit snuggly against the side of the laptop.  It’s flush fit design matches the MacBook Pro nicely as seen in the image directly below.

Apple Satechi firm port

Satechi Flush Design Port Adapter – internet image.

 

I selected the alternative design with the “Flexible Cord” seen in the image at the top of this section on port adapters.  In my experience, there’s potential for things to get knocked about a bit when working away from a nice quiet office.  I think that the flexible cord approach might pose less of a risk of putting too much stress on the laptop’s port if the adapter gets bumped or jostled.  It also makes it easier to move the ports around and see the port openings on the adapter when making connections with external devices.

For non-Apple users or those not dealing with USB-Type C issues,  Satechi also makes hubs such as the Satechi Aluminum USB 3.0 Hub & Card Reader pictured below.

satachi hub

Satechi Aluminum USB 3.0 Hub & Card Reader / internet image

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These three items – 1) Protective Case, 2) Precision Editing Device, 3) Hub / Port Adapter –  allow me to do everything I need with my laptop during my travels.  They are Travel Gear That Works.

 

Get The Right Gear …………..And Enjoy The Journey!

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