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Making Your Laptop Computer Road-Ready

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Mark Edward Soper has put hundreds of thousands of miles on various laptops in 18 years of business and pleasure trips. In this article, he helps you prepare your digital “home away from home” for the challenges of travel. Whether you’re planning to hit the road for summertime fun or joining the mobile workforce, you need to equip your notebook computer with the right hardware, software utilities, and configuration settings so you’re ready for anything.
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Packing for the Road - Connectivity

If your laptop spends most of its time tethered to a desk, you might take a lot of connectivity for granted, especially if you use a port replicator or docking station. To avoid connectivity woes, I recommend packing the following.

Compact 4-port or Larger USB Self-powered Hub

A self-powered hub can run almost anything you can plug into the USB ports built into your computer, including bus-powered USB hard disks, flash memory drives, and card readers. Most of these devices require more power than the 100mA per port provided by bus-powered hubs, so the 500mA per port provided by self-powered hubs keeps your high-powered hardware working properly.

CAT5, 5e, or 6 UTP Ethernet Cable

Having an “old-school” Ethernet cable enables you to connect directly to a switch or router, or in destinations that offer both wired or wireless Ethernet (Wi-Fi), you can use whichever connection is more reliable or faster. To save space, consider retractable cables.

Universal USB Cable

At home or at the office, you might have a variety of USB cables for different devices, but on the road, carrying a cable with multiple connectors helps you connect with smartphones, PDAs, digital cameras, multifunction devices, and other USB gear with less to carry around. Some kits also include RJ-45 and RJ-11 connectors, so your USB cable can double as an Ethernet or telephone cable.

TV or HDTV Cables

Instead of watching mediocre movies provided by your hotel at $10 a title, put that money into equipping your laptop with the appropriate TV or HDTV cables so you can convert the big screen into a custom “home-away-from-home” theater system.

Older laptops typically have S-video ports for TV-out, while newer models might features DVI or HDMI ports for HDTV connection. Whenever possible, use HDMI so you can pipe both audio and video from your computer to an HDTV. If you’re looking for a greater variety than what you can find in a typical retail store, BlueJeansCable specializes in video and audio cables and adapters at attractive prices.

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