Must-Have Tech Gear to Maximize Productivity Outside the Office

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Let’s face reality, virtually everyone has a laptop computer and if you’re like most college students and mobile professionals, you like to get work done outside of the classroom and the office.

Luckily, most retail locations like Starbucks, Barnes & Noble and even McDonald’s offer free Wi-Fi for all their customers.

We have several tips below that can help you get your mobile telecommute on!

1. Laptop Upgrade – If you’re in the market for a new multi-media or workhorse notebook between 15-17”, you should opt for one with an LCD monitor with either WSXGA (1680 x 1050) or WUXGA (1920 x 1080) resolution. These resolutions offer excellent real estate space so you can literally view two browser windows side-by-side. Being able to view two windows simultaneously is perfect for school or work research and analysis.

2. USB Wireless N Wi-Fi Network Adapter – While most laptops come with wireless network adapters, picking up a newer USB Wi-Fi network adapter is an excellent upgrade. A high-powered external network adapter can help if you have high-bandwidth needs such as multiple downloads and offers a more consistent signal connection if you require maximum uptime.

3. Larger Sized USB 2.0 Flash Drives – Flash drives have been around for a while. Because of this, you can score a flash drive with generous space relatively inexpensively. One can be used for school and another work. By not keeping all your eggs in one basket, you minimize data disasters such as not being able to access/print your important documents because your notebook crashed or was stolen.

4. Outlet Power Strip – While most notebooks now are engineered for at least five hours of battery life, many consumers are still more comfortable plugging it in. Have you ever walked into a coffee shop and noticed the only power outlet is already being hogged by two people? Having a solid power strip can come in handy for not only charging your notebook or inexpensive netbook, but also helps your other mobile commuters.

5. Notebook Cooling Fan – These neat little coolers are fantastic for several reasons. First, if you’re spending three or four hours on your laptop, it will get hot and heat is a huge enemy of notebooks failing (excessive heat = excessive wear & tear). Not only do these fans keep your notebook cool but most models elevate your notebook to make viewing and typing more comfortable.

6. USB Hub – The average notebook comes with three to four USB ports. However, tack on a USB mouse, flash drive and an iPhone charging/sync cable and you run out quickly. An inexpensive four-to-six port USB port is handy for having to plug in multiple USB devices.

7. An External Mouse – Everyone knows (who usually hate notebook touchpads) to bring a USB external mouse. However, what would increase productivity is either a new USB mouse that offers convenience or lets you do more. For example, if you pick a mouse with a Nano receiver, you plug in the tiny-sized nano-receiver and never have to worry about unplugging/plugging it again because it hardly protrudes outside the USBport. Another example is a four-to-six button mouse by Logitech or Microsoft. These mice are engineered to take a beating (i.e. gaming) and the programmable buttons help make browser navigation easier.

8. Headphones with Microphone – With the advent of enhanced communication such as GMAIL chat and Skype, you can not only listen to iTunes but can also communicate with your clients, classmates, friends and family while hanging out at your local Starbucks.

 

Regardless of your profession or college major, one fundamental aspect of productivity is making sure you have the right gear for the right occasion. That being said, having the appropriate gear offers several advantages. For example, if you know you only spend one or two hours at a coffee shop after work and do mostly blogging and/or checking e-mail, you can pack light by just putting your notebook in a sleeve pouch, thus cutting down the need for a bulkier laptop bag, power adapter and accessories. Or, if you do graphic design or CAD while on the go, the crucial accessories to bring would be a power strip, external mouse and an external hard drive. The big picture is to analyze your mobile computing needs and bring what’s important to get the job done!


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LAST UPDATED 11/4/2010