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The right stuff for road warriors: essential kit for mobile pros
The more you do, the more demands you put on your device’s battery. You can improve battery life by investing in a higher capacity battery and keeping the existing one as a spare – remembering to charge it before you travel, of course - but remember that batteries deteriorate over time: what delivers six hours of power today won’t get close to that after two or three years of heavy use.
Travel adapters are a must for foreign travel, of course, and if you also pack a lightweight multi-plug power strip you’ll be able to power or charge multiple devices at once. Such strips are also very handy to have in airports, where road warriors are quick to spot and monopolise any available power outlet: if you’ve got a strip, you can ask to share the outlet without inconveniencing anyone.
If you’re travelling by car and it doesn’t have a standard plug socket – many recent models do – then a power inverter can turn the cigarette lighter socket into a power adapter for your devices. Some inverters are surprisingly powerful – around £20 can get you an inverter delivering 500 watts – but make sure the engine’s running when you use them, or your laptop won’t be the only expensive item with a flat battery.
If you’re taking a tablet and a camera, remember to bring the USB cable for the camera so you can transfer the shots to your tablet; if your tablet doesn’t have one, you may be able to buy a camera connection kit that adds USB support. Such hardware is usually unnecessary with laptops, most of which have integrated card readers of some flavour. If your chosen card format isn’t one of those supported, a multi-format card reader costs pennies.
If you tend to scribble ideas or sketches, adding a stylus to your tablet can make sketching much more accurate, but if you’d like to take things further devices such as Wacom’s Inkling offer a clever take on the traditional pen: you sketch as normal, but the Inkling stores what you do in digital format for easy export to PC or Mac. It even can even handle images with multiple layers.
We’d recommend two other bits of kit for happy travelling: good quality in-ear or noise cancelling headphones, and a decent E-ink-based e-reader. The former reduces background noise for easier sleeping, and also means you don’t need to turn in-flight entertainment up too loud to hear what’s going on, and the latter is much easier on the eyes than an LCD screen if you plan to read for a protracted period. Most e-readers support multiple formats too, so it’s easy to transfer any key work documents to your e-reader before you travel. Such gadgets can’t eliminate every irritation of business travel, but they can certainly help ensure you don’t reach your destination boggle-eyed and battling tinnitus.