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10 gizmos for the road

10 gizmos for the road
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First Published: Mon, Mar 30 2009. 10 31 PM IST

Updated: Tue, Mar 31 2009. 10 38 AM IST
Gurgaon: SanDisk Ultra Backup USB
Price: 8GB (Rs1,499), 16GB (Rs2,499)
Travelling with a USB drive is always a good idea. But if it’s a question of critical data, something specialized such as the SanDisk Ultra Backup USB may be just the thing. Available in 8GB and 16GB capacities, the device gives you a special built-in backup function and a dual layer of security. Pressing a dedicated Backup button automatically pulls selected data off your computer without much ado, and password protection plus AES hardware encryption safeguard data privacy in case it falls into the wrong hands.
PortableApps.com Suite
Price: Free
Even if you intend to use someone else’s laptop to get work done when travelling, carry a pen drive with the PortableApps Suite on it. It is replete with Web browser, email programme, calendar, tasks, antivirus, IM client, PDF reader, password manager, media player and a complete office suite (word processor, spreadsheet, drawing software, presentation and database tool). It is available in light (46MB) and standard (124MB) versions.
Prepaid Local SIM
Price: Varies from country to country
Staying or travelling in a foreign country for more than two days? Buy a prepaid local SIM card and SMS the number to your important contacts. It’s inexpensive, and you can get free incoming calls and SMS, lower-priced outgoing and international calls and messaging, excellent coverage, avoid unnecessary calls and often a bundled deal of GPRS freebies. So it also makes sense to carry along a second mobile handset. Or rent one. To avoid language problems while setting up the SIM, ask the person in the store to help. You might want to keep your passport handy for identification purposes.
Price: $8 (around Rs400)
If your laptop happens to have a PC card slot, you can use this low-cost, low-tech StashCard as a secret storage compartment. Pop it out whenever required and use it to stash away everything from memory cards, cash, credit cards, keys, important little notes, photos and more. It’ll all be tucked away safely from prying eyes.
Travel Adaptor Plugs
Price: Rs120-450
If you intend to travel to several countries, buy a single multi-country travel adaptor. This will let you plug your laptop/chargers into electrical sockets in different places. Some even have USB ports.
An alternative is to buy country-specific units that are sturdier than multi-country devices. It is best to buy one before leaving India as it is often cheaper here and you will arrive prepared. Check your local shops for one.
Last, and zero-cost option: Ask the hotel reception for one.
Seagate FreeAgent Go
Price: Rs4,200-7,000
To carry, protect and/or share large amounts of data (or photos, videos and music, etc.), nothing works better than a capacious, yet diminutive, portable hard disk such as the FreeAgent Go. Pocket-sized, the drive is available for both Windows and Mac platforms in capacities of up to 500GB and comes with built-in shock and vibration protection. Plus, it is USB-powered and doesn’t require a separate adaptor to be lugged around—the norm for most drives in the 500GB capacity.
Also see: Travel Wise
USB Light
Price: Rs70-250
Other than a few top-end models, no laptop comes with a reading light. And ever so often—in a car, bus, train, or while waiting at the airport, station or restaurant—you need better than ambient lighting. It could be for the keyboard or to peruse a document. Apart from being inexpensive, a flexible USB-powered lamp is an extremely sturdy, lightweight solution you can throw into your laptop bag without a thought. Check out the local computer vendor.
Price: Rs14,000 upwards
Small wonder: The Netbook is more travel-friendly than a regular laptop.
Ultra-portable and low cost, netbooks make far better travel companions than traditional laptops. Usually weighing 1-1.2kg, a typical configuration—comprising a 9- or 10-inch colour display, 160GB hard disk, 1GB RAM, full keyboard (89-93% smaller than a regular notebook), two-three USB ports, built-in Web camera, microphone and speakers, running Windows XP and powered by an Intel Atom processor—will set you back by Rs19,000-25,000. Battery life on some models is nearly 5 hours. Check out the local computer vendor.
BlackBerry Global Roaming
To save on GPRS/EDGE roaming costs for your email while abroad with your BlackBerry, check with your provider on available international roaming plans and switch to one before leaving. Revert to your original plan on return, and you’ll only pay pro rata charges on this plan for the days you were abroad, not monthly. Specifically, note your carrier’s international network partner (for GPRS) in the country you’re visiting and switch to it manually. Else savings may be negated.
Price: Free
Download Evernote on your Windows mobile phone or iPhone and you may not need to boot your laptop while on the trot. This free download allows you to create notes whenever you like. Further, it automatically syncs them with your Evernote Web account. The notes (text, voice notes and snapshots taken from the phone) are tagged and fully searchable. You can also copy and paste text into your Evernote Web account.
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First Published: Mon, Mar 30 2009. 10 31 PM IST