Lightweight gadgets for serious work
Skype, teleconferencing, and other long-distance Internet communication tools may be all the rage these days, but business travel isn't going away any time soon. Every week, hordes of executives and entrepreneurs hit the road, and the success of any trip depends to a large extent on what they bring along for the ride. Though every traveler has different specific needs, these 10 essential tech products can help smooth the bumps out of any business travel experience.
Apple MacBook Air 13-Inch
Unless you’re editing video or manipulating 3D renderings on the plane, you don't need to saddle yourself with a traditional notebook that weighs 5 pounds or more. The MacBook Air is speedy, svelte, and durable, and it runs Windows—though not Windows 8, at least officially—all at a weight of less than 3 pounds. The epic battery life and ultrabright screen are just icing on the superslim cake.
If you're categorically opposed to using Apple products, check out the stunning Vizio CT14-A2 Ultrabook, instead. This solid, sleek, well-rounded performer challenges the MacBook Air on most fronts for the same price.
Starts at $1199 at Apple.com
Google Nexus 7
I love the iPad as much as the next guy...but the risk of having a device that can cost up to $829 vanish at an airport security checkpoint makes me not want to take it with me on plane trips. A better option is Google’s Nexus 7, a full-blown Android tablet that costs less than $200. It’s not the fastest tablet on the market, but the Nexus 7 repays you for the slight sacrifices in performance with a solid build, a no-fuss interface, and the Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean) OS. And by opting for a Google flagship device like the Nexus 7, you put yourself first in line for Android updates when they arrive.
Starts at $199 at Google.com
Kensington AbsolutePower Charger
Big laptop, little laptop. Old phone, new phone. Mac tablet, Android tablet. Whatever you’ve got (except, regrettably, a Mac laptop), the Kensington AbsolutePower Charger can juice its battery—and two other gadgets at the same time. The AbsolutePower ships with replaceable tips that fit all major laptop brands, and the power brick contains two integrated USB ports, each supplying 2.1 amps of power for speedier phone and tablet charging. Best of all, the whole package is tiny compared to most A/C adapters, so it won’t weigh down your travel bag.
$120 at Kensington.com
Apple iPhone 5
Some critics have called the iPhone 5 “boring” due to its lack of many new features—quite aside from the Apple Maps kerfuffle—but the latest version of the iPhone is the most capable smartphone on the market for practically any user, including business travelers. Thousands of apps are available to ease your transportation woes and grease the wheels of business on the road. With an iPhone in hand, you can probably get by without the other nine items on this list...at least for a while.
Starts at $199 at Apple.com
Tossing all of this gear into a dingy backpack won't impress clients in a good way. Ogio’s messenger bags and briefcases look professional yet modern, and they offer an astonishing amount of space, with specially padded pockets to cradle your phone, your tablet, and your laptop. A special channel lets you securely attach the Rivet to the handles of your rollerbag, reducing the likelihood of spills onto the tarmac and of sore shoulders after a long day of travel.
$140 at Ogio.com
Verbatim Store ‘n’ Go V3
USB thumb drives are incredibly versatile and virtually weightless, so there’s no reason not to stow one in every travel bag. But don’t settle for the slow, low-capacity promo drive you got at the last trade show you attended. Verbatim’s Store ‘n’ Go V3 is USB 3.0 compatible, so it supports much faster file transfers on recent computers than older drives can. Password protection software is available too, if you need something more secure.
Starts at $10 at Verbatim.com
Innergie Magic Cable Trio
The Innergie Magic Cable Trio looks innocuous but can save the day more often than you’d expect. This short cable has a USB plug on one end and three selectable tips on the other: The terminus has a 30-pin Apple connector; fold that back to reveal a Micro-USB tip; and fold that back to reveal a Mini USB connector. Though you’ll have to pack a Lightning adapter for newer iOS devices separately, the Innergie is a handy insurance policy for charging most gadgets you may encounter.
$20 at MyInnergie.com
Logitech Touch Mouse T620
If you aren't using a touchscreen device, navigating Windows 8 can be a bit of a pain, particularly when you’re on the road and don’t have access to your usual peripherals. Logitech’s Touch Mouse T620 goes a long way toward making Windows 8 navigation more intuitive. The mouse works the way any other would, except that the entire top surface is touch-sensitive, so you can perform Windows 8 swipes without having to let go of the mouse. It can work with two AA batteries or just one, in case you need to travel extra light.
$70 at Logitech.com
Klipsch Image X7i
To muffle the drone of a plane’s engines, you can strap on a pair of over-the-ear headphones, but traditional noise-canceling headphones consume a lot of space in your bag. In contrast, earbud typically weigh only a couple of ounces and take up almost no space. These buds from Klipsch come with an inline remote (to make adjusting the volume a breeze), a tangle-free cord, and a ceramic—not plastic—design that’s both tough and stylish.
$200 at Klipsch.com
Novatel MiFi 2 Liberate
Wi-Fi is great—when you can hook up with a signal that isn't slow, buggy, or nonfunctional. Mobile hotspots to the rescue: They let you use the cell networks as a quick bridge for hopping online with your gadgets. The new MiFi 2 Liberate (for AT&T Wireless) features an integrated touchscreen for tracking usage and checking status, and it supports up to ten simultaneously connected devices to the LTE network. Even better, according to AT&T, the hotspot can broadcast for up to 11 hours before needing to recharge.
$150 or $50 with a two-year contract at ATT.com