Driving with Your Notebook
Here's the first thing to know about driving with your notebook PC—don't use your notebook while driving! That said, here are a few things you might want to consider when taking your notebook on a road trip:
- Use a DC power adapter. Using your notebook in the car is a great idea for everyone except the driver (while you're driving, anyway). For long road trips, however, a single battery charge won't cut it. Instead, invest in a power adapter that plugs into your car's cigarette lighter. (A power inverter will also work.) This way you can get constant current while you're cruising down the highway.
Get a notebook desk. If you're a mobile professional who likes to check in during driving breaks, consider investing in a mobile notebook desk that provides a good resting surface for your notebook. Some of these mounts (such as the one in Figure 15.6) attach to your steering wheel, some (such as the one in Figure 15.7) attach to the passenger seat, some mount permanently to the front floor of your car, and others just sit on your lap.
- Use a cellular data card for roving Internet access. You'll find lots of Wi-Fi hot spots when you stop your car, in rest areas and hotel parking lots, but that doesn't help when you want to go online while you're driving I-94 between Madison and Minneapolis. For connecting from anywhere you get cellular phone service, invest in a broadband cellular data card for your notebook, and the accompanying data service.
- Use your notebook for maps and directions. If you can get Internet service, there's no reason not to use your notebook to help you navigate—and to find gas stations, restaurants, and hotels on the road. I like to use Google Maps (maps.google.com) for these tasks, although any general-purpose mapping site will do the trick.
- Let your kids use your notebook for in-car entertainment. If you have kids with you on your trip, your notebook PC can also function as a mobile game player and a portable DVD player. Just stock up with the latest PC games and DVD movies, and you won't hear a peep from the peeps in the backseat. (And for long trips, you may want to consider a rear seatback notebook mount, such as the one in Figure 15.8.)