We just got back from a weekend trip to Atlantic City and I took my trusty Nexus 7 with me instead of a laptop. It has been some time since I packed a laptop with me for short weekend trips, but it has been harder to envision travel without one on a longer trip. However, two weeks from now we are embarking on an epic journey, which requires so many changes of clothes and climates that saving space and weight in our luggage is critical.
I’m taking the plunge and travelling without a Laptop, yet hope to remain connected for business and have access to entertainment. Personally I feel that the transition from a Laptop user to a Tablet user is a tough one, some others find it easy, and I guess it comes down to whether you use it as a Content Production Device or a Content Consumption Device, personally I use it for both and as such these Tablet Accessories are essential for getting the most out of my device and being able to rely on it to deliver all of my needs.
Tablet Accessories #1 Case
Unfortunately, most tablets come with the very bare essentials (a charger and if you are lucky a set of cheap headphones) so the first item that you need to get is a good case. Personal preferences will dictate, and there are tons of options.
What I am looking for in a case is something that has multipurpose, such as when closed it protects the Tablet, but when opened up it can either be wrapped out of the way, or used as a stand so that I can prop up the Tablet when watching a movie or using it as a typing screen with a keyboard. I like the M-Edge product for iPad (they also have a great product for the Nexus 7 and 10).
This one is for the Laptop owners out there, if you do any sort of serious typing even for email then you might find that the Tablets touch screen keyboard is just not as convenient as having proper keys in front of you. If you combine a good Keyboard with a case like the one above you have a great set up for Content Production.
You can also buy a Case and Keyboard in one, but personally I don’t need to type like that everyday so I would rather have two separate items and just bring the keyboard along when I travel away from home, however here is a very solid offering in the case and keyboard realm from Logitech the Ultrathin for iPad
Tablet Accessories #3 Cables and Adapters
Once you have the basics of the Case and Keyboard, the next step are the little things that make your life easier in terms of carrying cables and getting the most out of what you have got, here are a few helpful things:
This charger is designed for the Kindle, but will work fine with other electronics too, it has higher power output, of 9W rather than the standard 5W. If you have an iPad they come with a 10W charger so there is no need for the Amazon Charger.
However for someone like myself with iPhones, Kindles and a Nexus making sure I take the Fast Charger is better than the smaller adapter that comes with the iPhone as standard which is 5W. The goal here is to take just a single wall adapter for all my electronics.
This cable is what Europeans use in their iPhones, and what the US use in many products, such as Windows based Tablets, Android Tablets like the Nexus 7 and Nexus 10. The Nook, The Kindle, many types of Camera… basically most things other than Apple who decided to make their darned cable different in both the older models with the 30pin and the new Lightening cable. However, there is a solution for that.
Personally, rather than carry the extra Apple cables for our iPhones I would carry a Mini USB-Lightening Adapter like this, this way you only need one cable and change out the head on it with this thumb nail sized adapter. These retail for $19 from Apple, or you can purchase a generic one on Amazon for $3.95 + free shipping
What about Photo’s?
When we travel one of the biggest worries for us is losing our photos from the SD card of the camera, so having a laptop is great as a backup device as we can copy onto there daily. Most Tablets don’t come with an SD slot so getting your photo backed up can be a pain. There are two great options for this with a Tablet.
WiFi Enabled SD Cards
The Eye-Fi SD Card retails at $99 on their website, or for about $91 on Amazon the 16GB Class 10 Card Wirelessly connects to your Tablet and sends the photo’s over, this is the best known brand, but there are a lot of others out there in the market for a more reasonable price point to consider also, such as Transcend.
This cable, available from the Apple store for $29 allows you to copy a regular SD card to your iPad through the Lightening Cable, it is also available on Amazon for about $23 for an official Apple version or even less if you are willing to take the chance on a generic product. Personally I am happy to use Generic Apple products and usually refer to the product that has a decent (20+) number of reviews and scores overall positively within that.
Google Nexus and other Mini USB Users – Two cables for you
A USB OTG Cable, this plugs into your Device and creates a USB Port, which you then have to plug in a second device to read the card (the same card reader you would plug into a PC). The OTG Cable is very cheap, I have bought a generic one for as little as $1.50 like this one from eForcity
USB OTG Cable and SD Card Reader Combo
Sharing is Caring – a Headphone Splitter
This is a great thing to have with you if you are travelling with someone else, and you want to watch a movie or listen to music on your device. I have had many a coach journey sharing a single pair of headphones, only to have them pulled from your ear everytime your nearest and dearest turns their head. I just picked up a splitter on eBay for $0.71 including shipping from Hong Kong- works perfectly and I still cannot figure out how they are making money at that price… one of the cheapest and best tablet accessories for those travelling in pairs.
Consolidating those Cables
So now you are down to one small wall charger, one cable for all devices for charging, one or two cables for your SD Card (or none if you are going for the Eye Fi and a small splitter for your headphones. Considering the weight savings that a Tablet has over a Laptop you have reduced your space and weight needs considerably, pat yourself on the back you savvy traveler you!