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Outfit Your Laptop for the Road

Outfit Your Laptop for the Road

Business travelers need to prepare for the vagaries of life on the road, and when it comes to laptops, preparing means making sure you’re equipped with the right mix of gadgets and services designed for on-the-move professionals.

You probably know enough to bring an extra battery, but plenty of other gadgets, online services and techno-tools can help you have a productive trip, rather than one marred by snafus.

Consider these options when you’re working away from the office:

Supercharged Wireless

Today’s laptops often come equipped with wireless cards to let you connect to Wi-Fi hotspots at cafes, airports and hotels. But if you find yourself somewhere that’s not equipped with Wi-Fi, you don’t want to waste time scrambling to find a hotspot. The solution? A special wireless card like one from Sprint Mobile Broadband Solutions that allows you to connect your laptop to the Internet from pretty much anywhere. You can find an assortment of plans, including one that provides unlimited access at $59.99 per month with a two-year agreement.

Wi-Fi Locator

Of course, not everyone wants to buy special equipment to connect wirelessly, especially when many laptops already come with Wi-Fi cards. Yet locating a Wi-Fi connection isn’t always easy. You can check the JiWire hotspot directory, but that requires doing some advance research. If you want to track down Wi-Fi networks from the road, try the keychain-sized WiFi Signal Locator from Mobile Edge. The $29.99 device indicates signal strength through LEDs.

Online Backup

Backup is essential, even when you’re away from the office. After all, the work you’re doing in your hotel room is just as valuable as the work you do in the office. That means you need a way to back up your work online. Both Carbonite at $49.95 a year and Mozy at $54.45 a year offer plans with unlimited backup space. Because you can connect from anywhere through the Net, you can be assured your data will be protected from the rough-and-tumble world of life on the road.

Virtual Private Network

Your office PC may be protected from hackers, but your laptop is much more vulnerable. That’s because when you’re traveling, you may be connecting to networks at hotels and coffee shops that lack top-notch security. To help ensure that you don’t leak corporate secrets from the road, WiTopia’s $39.99 personalVPN will protect the data you send and receive, even when you’re connecting from far-flung locations.

The Perfect Bag

Frequent travelers require more than a flimsy laptop sleeve inside a briefcase. With the $129 Briggs & Riley Laptop Computer Brief, you get a laptop briefcase tailored for professionals who need to work from the road. Aside from plenty of padded pockets for PDAs, cellphones and more, the product’s U-shaped opening lets you work on your laptop while your PC is still in the briefcase.

Portable Desk

As anyone who props a laptop on an actual lap knows, notebooks can get hot -- very hot. LapWorks’ Laptop Desk, available in three varieties for around $30, will shield your lap from your laptop’s heat.

On-the-Road Videocam

Need to videoconference? For $79.99, you can pack Creative’s Live Cam Notebook Ultra, which latches onto your laptop screen for quick videoconferencing.

Music for Your Ears

If you travel a lot, you may get tired of using earbuds to listen to music on your iPod or laptop. Think about portable speakers, like the Logitech mm22 portable speakers, to listen to tunes from your comfy hotel bed. The $59.99 speakers run on four AAA batteries or AC power, and they fold to fit into your briefcase.

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