Notebook Accessories

So you've got your notebook computer and you're ready to take on the world. Problem is, whether you're on the road, in the office, at school or at home; tricky situations can and do arise where the extra functionality of notebook accessories can downright save the day.

There are that many weird and wonderful types of notebook accessories out there from GPS devices and webcams to portable printers and wireless network finders. This guide will give you a clearer picture of what is out there. We will run through no less than 15 key accessory categories that will make your notebook experience a lot fuller.

Of course, most desktop computer accessories will also work on your notebook but for specifically mobile orientated accessories, there are companies to keep in mind from the outset. Certain manufacturers, notably Kensington, Targus and Belkin and American Power Conversion, all specialise in this area so they are great places to begin your search.

Power adapters

A notebook power adapter

The power adapter is one notebook attachment that can easily bring your productivity to a grinding halt -- that is, when you don't have one and your battery life is gone.

Not only can power adapters be lost or left behind, but power outlet compatibility issues can arise when you're travelling overseas.

If you've lost your power supply or need one compatible with an overseas power outlet, your first option is to contact your notebook vendor and buy an official replacement.

For compatibility, you could also buy a small international/universal socket adapter (available quite cheaply from electronic stores like Dick Smith or Jaycar). These normally support Europe and the Middle East's two round pins, the USA, Canada, Japan and Taiwan's two parallel pins, the UK, Singapore, Hong Kong and Africa's three square pins and Australia and New Zealand's two angled pins.

You could even opt for a new cord/plug section for your power pack that's suitable for the country you're in. Just be sure that it will work with your power pack - you might need a two-pronged connector or even a three pronged type.



A Warning

IMPORTANT: Be aware that Australia uses different electricity ratings compared with much of the rest of the world. Plugging a device designed for Europe, Japan or the USA into an Australian socket can cause that device to short and may even cause injury.

An electrical device/power cable that's designed for Australian standards may work in some overseas countries but is likely to not behave properly and if the appropriate precautions aren't taken, accidents and injury can occur.

Some notebook power supplies (AC adapters) can auto-switch between voltages but make sure you check your adapter (or check with your vendor) to be sure. You may also wish to invest in a surge protector accessory to further protect your investment.

Then there's the situation of losing your power pack or leaving it behind. It is best that you buy a new one from your notebook vendor. We don't recommend that you use a power supply from another notebook even if the ratings match and it can actually connect to your notebook, as this may void your warranty.

If you're really in a tight spot and you've checked your warranty, you could investigate third party power adapters that are designed for specific notebook models. These are usually cheaper to buy than an official replacement but it's always worth comparing the costs.

If you have more than one notebook, you might even want to consider a universal power adapter that's designed to work with most notebook brands by using swappable attachments.

Another way to ensure you're always powered up on the road is to buy a universal car power adapter. These connect to the cigarette lighter in your car or boat's centre console and are usually voltage adjustable and in some cases, compatible with certain airline passenger seats.

Additional sites to begin your search for notebook power solutions include: www.mobilepower.com.au, www.battery-charger.com.au, www.batterymall.com.au, www.expansys.com.au, www.ht.com.au and www.anyware.com.au.

Battery accessories

Power adapters are one thing, but it certainly doesn't hurt to have a charged spare battery with you when travelling.

The problem is, spare batteries from the vendor itself usually aren't cheap, especially if they're of the higher capacity 8-12 cell Li-Ion variety. Thankfully, you should be able to buy a third party battery designed for your specific notebook brand and model. These are often cheaper than the official alternative, but make sure you check if it affects your notebook's warranty. Also make sure you check the warranty on the new battery itself: try and get at least a one-year warranty on it rather than six months.

If you are a regular traveler and want to charge multiple backup batteries simultaneously, you might consider a notebook battery charger. These can be useful because you can use them to charge one or two extra batteries whilst charging the main battery using the notebook. You'll have to search the Web to see if there's a battery charger for your brand/model, but Sony and Toshiba notebooks in particular, are well catered for.

Finally, you could also opt for a universal battery pack: either using Li-Ion (Lithium Ion) or the older style Ni-MH (Nickel Metal Hydride). These can be incredibly handy and, as with universal power adapters, are able to work with most notebook brands by using swappable attachments.

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