Calling all digital nomads -- you may not be wearing a dark suit, a tie and shiny shoes, but you're out there with at least a full day of work to get done. Chances are that, more times than not, your workspace is a table at Starbucks, a hotel lobby couch or a client's lunchroom. In other words, you labor where and when you can, without the kind of resources that a more office-bound employee can call upon.
As a result, your mobile gear has to be small, light and able to come through for you while making you look good. Regardless of whether it's a Wi-Fi smart phone, a solar-powered battery or a portable printer, it has to get the job done without making you work up a sweat. After all, appearance counts for a lot these days.
Here are a dozen great gadgets that no self-respecting digital nomad will want to be without.
Print shop to go
Forget about waiting at a Kinkos to print out that hard-copy report. Planon's Printstik PS910 is a go-anywhere print shop. At 1.5 pounds and powered by a lithium ion battery, the PS910 easily fits into a notebook bag, yet it can print from a smart phone, handheld or notebook, either through a USB cable or wirelessly via Bluetooth. The US$300 printer uses thermal technology; a package of three rolls of thermal paper costs US$25. It means that you only get monochrome documents, but if you need a quick sales letter, a map or a proposal, this could be just the thing.
So much work, so few power outlets -- it's the nomad's nightmare. Belkin's Mini Surge Protector with USB Charger turns a single AC outlet into three, delivering electricity to you and those around you (sharing that outlet may get you good karma, or even a free latte). It also provides a pair of USB ports for charging phones, handhelds or media players. At 6 ounces, the Mini Surge Protector is worth its weight in batteries, and it rotates so that it won't block the second outlet on the wall. The device costs US$25, but is well worth it -- not the least because it carries a US$75,000 warranty against damage from a power spike.
It may not be able to stop a coffee cup from tipping over, but Zagg's InvisibleShield keyboard cover can keep a spill from turning into a digital disaster. Made of an ultrathin plastic film, the type-through cover keeps liquids, dust and who knows what else out of your notebook's delicate keyboard. When it gets dirty, wipe it clean. The US$35 cover has been precision-cut for a wide variety of notebooks and comes with a lifetime guarantee not to scratch or wear out.