Accessorize that naked laptop

Tech

October 27, 2005|By JUDI DASH | JUDI DASH,LOS ANGELES TIMES

Whether you're taking your laptop along for business or pleasure, here are some neat, new products for easing the schlepping. All items have been tested by the author.

Mighty mini

The trend toward larger laptops has become a pain in the neck for those who have to haul them around. Toshiba has taken pity and introduced a gem of a full-featured mini-notebook. The 2.2-pound Libretto U105 measures 8 1/2 by 7 by 1 1/2 inches. The unit comes bundled with a DVD docking station for burning CDs or DVDs or watching movies on the go (battery life is up to five hours). The keyboard is small but manageable. It also comes with a battery-conserving Intel Pentium M processor, 60 GB hard drive, Microsoft Windows XP Professional, 512 MB standard DDR memory, integrated wireless and Bluetooth, two USB 2.0 ports, a FireWire port, Ethernet and modem ports, Secure Digital photo card slot, headphone jack, and a slew of graphics and office efficiency programs.

Libretto U105 is about $2,100, depending on configuration; 877-789-7158, toshiba.com.

Best port-able

Laptops have become so powerful that many owners use them as desktop replacements, hooking them up to external mice, printers, DVD players, digital cameras and other peripherals at home. Hubs with supplementary USB ports for connecting accessories can be bulky affairs - but not the new Super Mini USB 2.0 4-port Hub from Targus. The hub is about the size of a matchbook and has a fast USB 2.0 chipset and a unique Y cable that provides extra power when needed, without the weight of an AC adapter. It's plug and play; no driver installation required. What a load off.

Super Mini USB 2.0 4-Port Hub is $29.99; 877-482-7487, targus.com.

Computer cushion

Shoreline makes zippered stretch neoprene laptop jackets that fit computers like an outer skin. Narrow elastic corners inside the sleeves hold the computer in place so the sleeve can be left on while the machine is in use. The Full-Access model has a zippered "back door" that allows port access for charging the computer and connecting peripherals. Available with or without handles, in sizes for 10.6- to 17-inch laptops, the cases take up little more space than the computer and weigh less than a pound. Neoprene laptop sleeves start at $29.99 with handles, $19.99 without. 888-888-3322, shorelinecases.com.

Drive, she said

What with downloading gazillions of memory-hogging files, you're likely to need some extra digital storage. Thanks to Seagate, you can get 100 GB of it in a portable external hard drive about the size of a deck of cards and weighing in at less than a pound. That translates into as many as 25 two-hour, DVD-quality movies, 1,560 hours of music or 25,000 digital photos. In most cases, putting the unit into operation is as easy as plugging it into your USB port (some older systems may require driver installation).

Seagate 100 GB portable external hard drive lists for $270. 877-271-3285, seagate.com.

Stand and deliver

When your laptop comes home to roost for a while - or when you're setting it up at a vacation home or a hotel room - save your neck and shoulders from crimping by getting the screen up at eye level with the ingenious Laptop Desktop USB 2.0 from Kensington. The stand, much lighter than the typical stand and a smart alternative to hooking up an external monitor, sets up quickly, taking up little more space than the laptop itself. Just slide the keyboard part of the computer into the unit's tilted, padded slot, adjust the height using the notch system on the side of the stand, fiddle with the screen for just the right angle and voila! - ergonomically correct computing. The stand comes with a built-in four-port USB 2.0 hub, AC power adapter and built-in paper holder.

Laptop Desktop USB 2.0 is $79.99; 800-235-6708, kensington.com

Judi Dash writes for the Los Angeles Times.

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