Essential gear for the business traveller, part 1

Traveling lightly is a must these days, but Jim Martin found two gadgets worthy of a spot in the carry-on.

I recently tried limiting myself to just one carry-on bag when flying. I couldn't do it — and frankly, I don't recommend the practice. However, the exercise prompted me to re-evaluate all the gear and related accessories I normally pack. Here are two items that will continue to make the cut.

1. Belkin's Mini Surge Protector With USB Charger

Hotel-room power outlets can be difficult to reach. The outlets you want to use may already be spoken for by the TV, lamp, or bedside alarm clock. Finding an available power outlet in an airport departure gate can also be a challenge.

For these and other reasons, I pack Belkin's Mini Surge Protector With USB Charger ($US16 and up online) on every trip. The power strip offers three, three-pronged AC outlets for recharging laptops or other devices, plus two powered USB ports for iPods and such. It's also, as its name implies, a surge protector. I love the ability to rotate the power strip's plug by 360 degrees: If you're trying to connect the Mini Surge Protector to an already crowded wall outlet, you can position the power strip sideways.

A few downsides are worth mentioning. The Mini Surge Protector is thick and weighs 6.6 ounces, a bit more than other portable power strips. Given its bulk, you may not be able to squeeze it behind a hotel room bed or into other tight confines, regardless of the rotating plug. But attaching the power strip to a 1-foot extension cord, like one from Cables To Go will save the day in those circumstances

Note: Kensington just announced the Portable Power Outlet (list price: $US25). Like the Belkin product, it offers three AC outlets and two powered USB ports and offers surge protection. Unlike the Mini Surge Protector, the Kensington product has its own cord. I haven't tested this product, however.

2. StarTech WiFi Detective

StarTech's Wi-Fi Detective (about $US54 and up online) helps you quickly discover Wi-Fi networks in the vicinity without having to start your laptop. (You can accomplish the same thing with an Apple iPhone or iPod Touch, or another Wi-Fi enabled handheld.) The device, about the size of a package of stick chewing gum, lets you view information about nearby networks on its small LCD, including each network's signal strength and security protocol (such as WPA, WPA2, and WEP). A handy Seek button, refreshes its list of wireless networks.

Windows users can plug the Wi-Fi detective into a USB port and use it as a wireless network adapter. Just about every laptop in the past few years has built-in Wi-Fi, so this feature is mainly useful for those with older laptops.

You recharge the device via USB connection. In fact, you can repower the Wi-Fi Detective by plugging it into one of the Belkin Mini Surge Protector's powered USB ports. My only complaints: The Wi-Fi Detective doesn't attach to a keychain, like some of its competitors; the Targus WiFi Scanner (starting at $US53 online) comes to mind. Also, its USB connector is covered by a cap that could be easy to lose. But these are minor complaints.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

James A. Martin

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?