11 Cool Gadgets You Should Never Leave Home Without
Tech enthusiasts know how gadgets enhance your daily grind. But what deserves to travel with you? Here are the products for revolutionizing your fast-paced life.
1. North Face Access Pack
The first order of duty is finding a comfy place to house your tech. Granted, bags are a dime a dozen, but none come close to the North Face Access Pack. For its rather substantial price, this is one bag that has had some serious grey matter put into it.
The shell for the main compartment is kept shut by a meaty, satisfying latch. It can house a 15.6″ laptop in its separate water-resistant compartment. There are padded shoulder straps with a clasp to secure the bag to your chest to reduce shoulder strain. Soft inner linings to prevent scratching and easy access front compartments without having to remove the bag.
All of this sounds fairly standard until you see the bag’s pièce de résistance. The pull tabs in the compartments. They make easy work of getting your tech out the bag in style. Do you need them? Maybe not. Do you want them? Oh yes! The aluminum frame and construction do come with a 4lb weight trade-off. The bag is also unable to stand by itself But, if you’re a serious tech enthusiast, this is a must.
2. Best Power Bank: RAVPower
We’ve all been there. A tech device on the brink of death and a critical mission to accomplish at the same time. RAVPower’s 20,100mAh power bank ensures your devices have the juice they need. It supports Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 which can get your compatible device from 0 to 80 percent in 35 minutes.
It even has a USB-C port to keep your 12-inch MacBook or Nintendo Switch from dying mid-mission. The large battery will charge your iPhone 8 six times over. This does mean the power bank will take around 4.5 hours to charge fully.
If you don’t own a USB-C device, any old USB-A bank will do. You may want to give Anker’s PowerCore chargers a try.
3. Earbuds for Audiophiles
Audiophiles may laugh at the notion of earbuds. But amongst the smorgasbord of available earphones, one stands out. Not for its retail packaging, or its included accessories. It won’t even win in the aesthetic department.
Why should you care about the VE Monk Plus earbuds then? It will be the best $5 you ever spent. The Monk Plus arguably offers the best price-to-performance ratio of any earphones, ever. If these get misplaced or damaged on the move, it’s no big deal. Get one for you, for your family, maybe even the neighbor’s house cat. On the downside, it lacks a microphone — but do you really care? These are for audiophiles.
The same manufacturer also makes a $10 version with an in-line microphone of the Monk. And it’s every bit as good as the $5 version.
4. Analog Players in a Digital World
Your device’s stock sound quality and volume might not cut it. You may be partial to wearing over-ear headphones that require some punch to drive. Fortunately, there are many portable Digital to Analog Converters (DAC) that will solve this issue.
FiiO has been in the game for a long time. Their K1 portable DAC has a distinguished lineage. It’s small enough to take anywhere and enhances the sound of the device it’s connected to. There are no drivers required when connecting to your laptop. And it’s plug-and-play connecting it to a smart device.
If you have a few more shekels lying around the FiiO E10K is another worthy contender. It is a little pricier but still portable none the less. If you just need more volume the FiiO A1 might be the headphone amplifier of choice.
5. Always Use Protection
The outdoors can be a scary place. One of the worst feelings in the world is watching your device fall in slow motion only to land face down and get scuffed, scratched, or even cracked. Protecting your device can sometimes make your phone look like it has been dressed by an overly protective mother.
This is where wraps can come in to play. They partially protect your device while making them look awesome. SlickWraps and dbrand (pronounced “dee brand”) are two household names for smart-device wraps. SlickWraps may have some cool looking wraps, but they suffer from poor customer service. dbrand however, offer unparalleled customer service, a beautiful website, and a quality product that won’t leave residue if you change your mind.
Pictured above is a Stormtrooper wrap on a MacBook Pro, garnished with a Mosiso transparent clamshell case. There’s no longer an excuse for a scratched premium device.
6. Never Lose Your Device or Your Mind
You know that feeling when your devices grow legs and crawl away from you? You immediately start thinking of a worst-case scenario where you could have misplaced it. Did it fall out my pocket at the store? Did Stuart hide my phone again? Have I been pickpocketed? Chances are it’s lodged between the sofa cushions, or you’ve left it in the fridge again. Enter the Cube Key Finder.
If you’ve lost the keys that it’s attached to, you can use the app to find them. If you’ve lost your device, you can press the button on the tracker to ring your device.
Another similar product is the one made by Tile. The main difference between the two is that Tile doesn’t include a replaceable battery like the Cube. This means you have to buy a new Tile every year versus just replacing the battery like the Cube. If you have misplaced your tracker and it’s no longer in the proximity of your device, there is another difference.
The Cube will show when the two were last connected, so you can go back to that place and keep looking. The Tile uses its large customer base as a search party to try and locate your lost device by anonymously putting the Tile community on the lookout to help you find your item. Either way, you be the judge.
7. Magnetic Charging Cables
If you’re a poly device tech enthusiast or you’ve worn out the ports on your devices, magnetic USB cables may be the answer. Simply attach the respective interface to your device and forget about it. Because you’re only plugging it in once, your smart device ports won’t wear out from plugging and unplugging. The additional benefit is helping keep dust out from your charging port. Smart&Cool cables come highly rated — and they’re braided for durability.
If you have ever rushed out the house while grabbing your phone with the cable attached only to yank the entire wall plug and a section of the drywall with you, these will help save your device and or plug sockets. The magnets also make it especially easy for people who may have visual impairments. Just leave the ends plugged into your devices, and keep some cables at home, in your bag, and in the car. No need to scrounge for the right cable now, all of them will work.
8. Second Monitor/Screen
Buying a smaller laptop means trading screen real estate in the interest of portability. But it would be nice at certain times to have a dual monitor setup on the go. This AOC portable LED monitor makes this possible.
Another great use case is having a meeting where crowding around your laptop screen is going to be difficult. The brightness and resolution aren’t going to win any contests, but productivity-wise you can’t beat a second display.
This monitor also includes a built-in stand, can be placed in landscape or portrait mode and supports Windows and Mac. Because it uses the standard DisplayLink driver, it should also work on Linux. The monitor’s power is also delivered via USB which means you won’t have to lug another power supply around. If you are within the Mac ecosystem and you own a MacBook and an iPad you could use Duet to accomplish the same thing.
9. Privacy and Security With a VPN
While using a Wi-Fi connection that you don’t trust, you should never enter sensitive data while on that connection. Usernames, passwords and credit card information can be compromised. This may be difficult if you’re out and about and you need to secure that eBay bid for the Die Hard ultra-deluxe box set. A VPN will ensure your connection to the internet is kept private and secure.
Many VPN providers today have native apps for all operating systems and even smart devices. Another concern is the data that is sent in the background by the apps on your devices when they get an internet connection. You’ve got very little control over what they send and receive. So do yourself a favor and make sure to use a VPN when on public Wi-Fi.
10. Type-C Dongles
If you chose the dongle life, or the dongle life chose you, there are quite a few options to choose from. The all-rounder, however, is the Juiced Systems Bizhub. While it’s not cheap, it has everything you need versus the mediocre one made by Apple. It squeezes in three USB-A 3.0 ports, a micro SD card, an SD card, Gigabit Ethernet and a USB-C input port that can charge the host device to which it’s connected. It doesn’t compromise on transfer speeds and build quality but does get a little toasty under load.
If you’d prefer something a little more wire friendly, surprisingly there is such a thing. Imagine if a power bank, Wi-Fi access point, multi-port dongle, and a media streamer had a baby.
The resulting device would be the RavPower FileHub Plus. Other than just emergency power, it allows transferring between USB devices and SD Cards and a few WiFi modes. Including the ability to convert wired ethernet to WiFi so multiple people can access it.
11. Best Mouse for Mobility and Function
Intensive tasks like drawing and design may be difficult to accomplish with your trackpad. A wireless mouse can easily speed up your workflow and even make basic navigation much quicker. The Logitech MX Anywhere 2S is a well built, portable mouse that has all the features you need on the go.
It supports Bluetooth, can track even on glass and has extra buttons to further your efficiency. It won’t be the cheapest mouse out there, but it sure is one of the prettiest!
- Nintendo Switch
- Cable Organizer
- Outdoor Bluetooth Speaker
- Universal Travel Adapter with USB
- USB Charge Keychain
- iFixit Pro Tech Toolkit
Are some of these solutions waiting for problems? Some people may even find these items extravagant. For the tech enthusiast, however, these can quickly become necessities. These are just ideas, and you may have a brand that you prefer over the ones mentioned.
What tech are you inseparable from? Do you know a tech enthusiast that can do with some or all of these? Share your feelings in the comments below!