Jack-of-All-Trades Power Bank
When your work requires portable charging for your phone or laptop, it’s worth considering the latest power banks, which can charge devices quickly and, in some cases, wirelessly. The Goal Zero Sherpa 100AC, for example, offers an interesting mix of features for charging all sorts of devices, including two fast-charging USB-C ports, two older USB-A ports and even a regular three-prong AC port for 110 volt plugs. It also has a wireless Qi charging pad on top.
Rugged Earbuds for Field Work
Made by a company that focuses on smartphone accessories for rugged work environments, the ToughTested Jobsite earbuds go over the ear and feature a 23db noise reduction rating. They’re also IP64 certified against water and dust. In music mode, the speakers provide noise reduction while limiting the volume to a safe level. In call mode, the speakers are designed to enhance speech, boost volume, and adjust bass and treble to make calls clearer when you’re out in the field.
With laptop makers continuing to remove ports that users have relied on for years, it’s important to have a good dock. A dock can replace a pocketful of dongles, giving you access to Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C ports, for Macs and PCs, when you’re traveling or at your desk. They often include headphone jacks, Ethernet ports and card readers. The CalDigit Thunderbolt Station 3 Plus includes all those jacks plus two eSATA 6G ports for external storage. The device can also charge Mac and PC laptops.
The Samsung Dex lets you quickly convert a Galaxy phone or phone into a desktop workstation. Drop your device in the dock, and you can connect a keyboard, monitor and mouse. The dock also lets you use the phone’s screen as a trackpad. You can run light versions of Microsoft Office apps for viewing and editing your documents on a monitor, or connect to other operating systems using Citrix or VMWare.
Industrial Phone Cases
If you need a phone that can handle the rigors of work travel and deal with more than the occasional light dusting, there are a number of smartphone cases that could fit the bill.
The LifeProof Fre protects smartphones from 2-meter drops, can be submerged in 2 meters of water for an hour, and keeps out dirt and debris. The Otterbox Defender is highly regarded by road warriors, adds less bulk than other rugged cases, and is available for iPhone and Galaxy phones, as well as for iPads.
For getting more done with your smartphone or tablet--and maybe enabling you to forgoing your laptop altogether when you travel--consider a Bluetooth keyboard. Amazon sells one of its own branded keyboards for just $20. And Logitech’s K380, for about $40, is small enough to travel but hardy enough to be used at your desk. It works with Chromebooks, Macs, PCs, iOS and Android devices.
If you just need a small power boost, and don’t want to carry a full power bank, you may opt for a case with a slim, built-in battery that will also protect your phone from drops. Battery sizes typically run from just under 2,000 mAh to 8,500 mAh, and can more than double the life of the phone’s charge. The popular Juice Pack by Mophie is a slim case that’s sold for iPhone and Android phones and supports Qi wireless charging.
A good car mount can speed up your workflow when you’re on the road and juggling calls, GPS directions, tracking expenses, and maybe a couple of kids and a dog in the back. (You’re doing all of this as a passenger, not a driver, of course!) You’ll likely need to decide first where you want to place the mount--on the windshield or dash, in an air vent, or slipped into a CD slot in the car stereo (pictured). You can find a number of different models on Amazon for about $20. For example, iOttie sells units with built-in charging that hold your phone in place using brackets or magnets.
Organizer and Accessories Case
One of the hardest things to organize before, during, and after a getaway are all of the adapters and related accessories (including the ones we’re recommending in this slideshow). This electronics organizer travel cable organizer and accessories case from TomToc is made of a heavy-weight material and has many pockets and dividers that make easier not only to pack all of your accessories, but also to access them when needed.
Floating Waterproof Smartphone Pouch
If you really plan to combine work and play, this floating waterproof smartphone pouch might be for you. The pouch from Travelon is air- and water-tight and has a foam insert that allows the pouch to float on the water’s surface. The smartphone’s touch screen is accessible through the pouch, and a 17-inch strap allows makes the device extra-portable.
(Very) Smart Adapter
The Twelve South PlugBug is a smartly designed power adapter for when you need to charge your devices using a USB-A connection when traveling. If you use a Macbook laptop, it can connect directly into the laptop's power supply while still offering a USB port so you can charge up another device at the same time. The PlugBug comes with five snap-on adapters for use in more than 150 countries, according to the company, including Continental Europe, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan.
A travel router can extend the range of your wireless connection when traveling, and is more secure than using a Wi-Fi hotspot in a hotel. They can also connect several computers to one Wi-Fi connection--letting you work while the rest of your family plays or watches movies--and convert a wired network to a wireless one. (Note that these are routers, not hotspots, that rely on an internet connection and then share it securely.) The TP-Link Wireless N Nano is a simple, inexpensive and easy-to-set-up option. It’s powered by a micro USB port and has an ethernet charger. It supports WiFi connections at up to 300Mbps, and can be used as a router or as a repeater, for example if you’re trying to extend the range of your phone’s hotspot. Another option, the RAVPower FileHub Plus, includes a 6000mAh battery, to power the device or put a charge on your phone.