Notebook Accessories

Security devices

Notebook vendors have long switched onto the fact that security is of vital importance to notebook users - whether it's the potentially sensitive data stored inside or the physical security of the notebook itself.

Vendors today employ a whole range of solutions for data security. Almost every notebook these days can be password protected at the BIOS, power-on and operating system-level and business notebooks from Lenovo, HP, Fujitsu and others even feature built-in security chips for on-the-fly encryption.

Other notebook security mechanisms include smartcards (as seen on some Acer and HP notebooks) and biometric protection: from finger print readers to facial recognition. Of course, if your notebook doesn't have such functionality then you can surely add it through a plethora of devices that may use PC Cards, USB, FireWire or even serial ports to connect to your notebook.

USB thumb drives can also be useful for security. Not only can they literally function as keys, but special versions can also encrypt data and even store roaming user profile settings.

Additionally, there are products such as an anti-theft PC Card that feature a built in motion sensor to encrypt any data and shut down your notebook if someone picks it up without entering in the password in a given amount of time.

Prevention of course, is better than the cure so it's important to consider making sure your notebook is physically secure in the first place. You'd be hard pressed these days to find a notebook without a Kensington security slot so there's no excuse! A wide range of locking mechanisms on metal cables are available that lock into the slot with a key and can be secured in a variety of ways. Some screw into a desk (great for schools and the like), others are portable and retractable with combination locks (useful for travelers) while others come with tamper alarms.

Networking accessories

If you've read through this guide from the start, you should be beginning to notice a trend: if your notebook doesn't have it, you can add it yourself. Whether your notebook setup forces you to use USB, FireWire, PC Card, serial port or any other form of connectivity, there is usually always a way!

However, before you explore third party options - don't forget that the simplest route is to always check with the vendor and see if you can get wireless networking or Gigabit Ethernet - whatever it might be, added internally. This is usually the case.

PC Cards are traditionally the most common way to add networking functionality to your notebook, whether you are adding an Ethernet port or modem to an older notebook or wanting to add the latest wireless networking standard. However, due to the size of Ethernet ports, USB keys are increasingly taking over the role of adding Bluetooth, wireless networking, and infra red forms of networking to a notebook.

The advantage of USB keys is that you can also use them with your PC if ever required.

It's also worth mentioning that there are a variety of external modem and Ethernet connection surge protectors on the market that are designed for travelers with notebooks.

Port cables

This guide has already mentioned that you can add extra ports to your notebooks via a dock or stand but sometimes you don't really need to go all out.

This is where cables that add only select ports to your notebook can come in handy.

For instance, "Y cables" are like double-adapters in that they allow you to connect two devices into the one port. The best example of this is using a Y cable to connect a PS/2 mouse and keyboard into a sole PS/2 port.

Here are a two examples of solutions to connectivity problems:

Your notebook doesn't have a serial cable and you only have your old serial model, mouse or PDA cradle until you can afford a USB version.

Solution: buy a cheap USB-to-serial adapter/converter cable.

Using the VGA-out port of your notebook to add a second display (complimenting your notebook's built in screen) is straight forward enough but some multimedia producers may need three displays.

Solution: buy a USB attachment that adds a second VGA-out port. These cost around $100.

Other types of adapters include headphone splitters (for two mini jack stereo out ports), USB-to-PS/2 adapters, USB-to-IDE hard disk adapters and more.

The accessories available for USB allow for infinite input/output possibilities.

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