Macworld Gear Guide

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Gifts for road warriors

For anyone who has to travel, gadgets can become something of an obsession: If there’s a gizmo that’ll let you leave three others at home, you’ll buy it. If there’s a better way to carry around all the stuff you can’t leave behind, you’ll grab it. So no surprise that, when we asked our mobile Mac experts for suggestions on cool gear, the recommended a little box that’ll read pretty much any memory card you can shove in it, a power adapter that’ll let you plug in almost anywhere, a tiny portable hard drive that’ll backup your laptop, and cool new bags to haul it all in.

Key : $ —gifts costing between $0 and $30; $$ —gifts costing between $31 and $200; $$$ —gifts costing more than $200.

Play anything $$

$50; Kensington

One of the biggest problems with relying on a laptop as your sole computer is that it doesn’t have all the ports a desktop has. The Kensington PocketHub Media Center helps remedy that situation. Its memory-card slots read 15 different card formats, and its three USB 2.0 ports let you plug in anything from a keyboard to a digital camera. And you get all that in one portable, brushed-metal package.—Dan Miller

Speakerphone to go $$

$100; Jabra

A mobile phone may be the business traveler’s most important tool. So why do so few models include that other necessity of modern business life, the speakerphone? (And even those that do won’t win any awards for sound quality.) The solution is Jabra’s SP500 . This portable Bluetooth speakerphone has good sound quality, 20-hour talk time, and 480-hour standby time. A pivoting microphone makes sure everyone is heard, and a built-in DSP adjusts the volume to reduce background noise. For people who must talk while driving (we really wish you wouldn’t), the SP500 even comes with window and visor mounts.—Dan Frakes

Hybrid power $$

$120; Kensington

If your portable computing environment encompasses planes, trains, and pretty much any other place with hard-to-find power supplies, Kensington’s Thin & Light 70 Watt AC/DC Notebook Power Adapter is for you. It lets you replace your PowerBook’s AC adapter with one that plugs into any auto, airline, or wall AC outlet. It’s thinner and lighter—although a bit longer—than the standard Apple AC adapter, so it fits into a laptop bag more easily. It also includes interchangeable tips that power your PowerBook, iBook, and iPod; tips for other laptops are available separately, and a $25 attachment allows you to simultaneously charge your laptop and your mobile phone, iPod, or other peripheral.—Dan Frakes

Itty-bitty backup $$$

$250; Targus

Three things a laptop-toting traveler should always bring along: a small drive for transferring files between computers, extra copies of important data, and a way to make a good backup. Targus’s 40GB Ultra Slim Pocket Hard Drive is your three-in-one tool: it’s a spacious 40GB drive in a tiny package—a mere 3 inches square, half an inch thick, and just 3.2 ounces. Yet the USB 2.0 drive has more than enough room for incremental, on-the-go backups of your important data.—Dan Frakes

Bag it

$$ - For toting a laptop around all day, you can’t beat a backpack. STM’s Sports model is one of the best. It has the usual padded laptop compartment, as well as pouches for your iPod, phone, and more. Ergonomic shoulder straps and ventilated back padding make it comfortable, even with heavy loads.—Dan Frakes
• $75; STM Bags

$$ - Timbuk2’s Laptop Zip Briefcase (pictured) is a hip professional take on the laptop bag. A padded compartment keeps your laptop safe; two large inside compartments and scads of gadget pockets and pouches hold everything else.—Dan Frakes
• 15 inch, $100; 17 inch, $120; Timbuk2

$$$ - Adobe and Medium Design Group have teamed up to create “the ultimate bag for creative professionals.” The Adobe messenger bag holds all the trappings of a designer’s mobile life inside a secure, roll-top main compartment.—Dan Frakes
• $250; Adobe and Medium Design Group

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