Gear Guide: The mobile Mac user

From cool cases to ultra-portable keyboards and mini-subwoofers, check out this collection of gear for the on-the-go Mac user.

Portable devices for working on-the-go

WaterField Designs MacBook Air Smart Case

Since the MacBook Air has its own unique form, you’ll want to purchase a case designed specifically with the Air’s body contours in mind. The WaterField Designs MacBook Air Smart Case fits the notebook quite snugly and includes a mesh outer-pocket for accessory storage. This multi-fabric case will also keep your laptop safe–the Smart Case has an “ultra-suede” interior to keep your MacBook Air scratch-free and a water-resistant nylon exterior. Available for both 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air models.

$79-$89; WaterField Designs

Wacom Bamboo Capture

Skilled artists and amateur doodlers alike will enjoy the Wacom Bamboo Capture drawing tablet. The $100 Bamboo Capture connects to your laptop or desktop and displays your drawings, notes, and edits as you create them. The tablet features a 5.8-by-3.6-inch work area, a stylus pen, and optional wireless connectivity. It also supports Mac OS X Lion gestures. Plus, the purchase of a Bamboo Capture includes a full version of Photoshop Elements and Sketchbook Express–ideal for editing photos and illustrations.

$100; Wacom

Crumpler Moderate Embarrassment

Any mobile Mac user understands the value of a sturdy garget bag that protects a variety of devices. Crumpler’s line of Embarrassment bags (pictured here–the Crumpler Moderate Embarrassment for 13-inch notebooks; also available for 15- and 17-inch models) is made from durable, waterproof, nearly rip-resistant nylon in flashy color schemes. The top flap stays securely shut thanks to two Velcro strips and two compression clips. Inside, you’ll find a thickly padded laptop sleeve, six smaller pockets for devices of varying size, and one large compartment for your other items. It’s comfy, too–the cushioned adjustable shoulder strap is worn across the body and keeps the bag from putting too much stress on your back.

$100-$120; Crumpler

G-Technology G-Drive Mobile

Designed to match your MacBook Pro, the G-Technology G-Drive Mobile is a fast and stylish portable hard drive made for the professional Mac audience. It performs simple copy and backup jobs with ease, offers two FireWire 800 ports and one USB 2.0 port, and packs a bus-powered 5400-rpm drive. To top it off, the G-Drive Mobile comes Time Machine ready right out of the box, and is available in a 500GB model and a 750GB model.

$120-$140; G-Technology

Twelve South PlugBug

To avoid schlepping multiple device chargers with you when you travel, check out the PlugBug by Twelve South. The $35 PlugBug snaps onto your MacBook’s power brick and provides its own USB port so you can simultaneously charge your laptop and a USB device (like an iPad, which won’t charge from lower-powered USB ports). In addition to providing a loaded power supply (10W, 2.1A), the PlugBug inadvertently serves as a plug adapter for MacBook users traveling to North America.

$35; TwelveSouth

HiPPiH iEagle Foldable Wireless Keyboard

A portable full keyboard can come in handy for road warriors, but storing one might be problematic. The HiPPiH iEagle Foldable Wireless Keyboard aims to solve that problem. This full-sized Bluetooth keyboard folds in half to easily fit in your gadget bag. We like its built-in stand for your iPhone or iPod touch–if you find yourself needing to, say, write a long email or edit a document from your phone, you can use the iEagle to type faster and more comfortably.

$100; Apple Store

Optoma PKA31 Pico Palm-sized Projector

For the business traveler who needs to make presentations on the fly, a good pico projector is a solid investment. The palm-sized Optoma PKA31 attaches to most hand-held Apple devices (including iPad, iPod, iPod Touch, and iPhone models) and to MacBooks with an additional adapter. It projects widescreen images sized up to 120 inches diagonally, and because it is an offset projector it can be placed on a tabletop–no tripod necessary. Other key specs include an audio-out jack for speakers, 28MB of internal memory, and a Micro SD card slot.

$430; Optoma

Thule Protection Sleeve

Every MacBook needs a case to keep it safe from bumps, spills, and drops. But for the super accident-prone, you might want to go for a more rugged option like the Thule Protection Sleeve ($50 for the 13-inch model, shown here). The Sleeve’s exterior is made of rigid, waterproof, high-density polyurethane paired with a water-resistant zipper. Plus, the Sleeve has an interior elastic strap that holds your laptop in place when you open the case.

$50; Thule

Twelve South BassJump2 Subwoofer

Although we love our MacBooks, sometimes the sound quality of their built-in speakers just won’t cut it. For an extra sound boost, check out the BassJump 2 Subwoofer by Twelve South. This compact device connects to your MacBook with a USB cord and adds extra bass and midrange frequencies to your laptop’s built-in speakers. It’s compatible with third-party USB speakers as well as Apple’s Thunderbolt Display speakers, but make sure you have Mac OS 10.5 or later.

$70; TwelveSouth

Aliph Jawbone Era Bluetooth headset

Aliph is known for creating top performing high-end Bluetooth headsets, and the Jawbone Era is no exception. The Era, $129, sports a single multi-function button for answering, ending, and switching between calls–or you could test out its gesture controls powered by its built-in accelerometer. Double-tapping the device’s exterior acts just like pushing the button, and this prevents the Era from coming loose or getting tangled in your hair. The Jawbone Era’s impressive sound quality holds its ground during calls, listening to music, and watching YouTube videos.

$129; Aliph

Smartfish Whirl Laser Mouse

The Smartfish Whirl Laser Mouse is a wireless mouse with a nifty ergonomic design. It has a unique ErgoMotion pivot system that hoists the mouse above its base and allows the mouse to pivot and swerve. The Whirl’s design is supposed to relieve wrist tension and avoid carpal tunnel. It’s ideal for mobile use due to extended battery life.

$50; SmartFish

Grifiti Deck for MacBooks

The Grifiti Deck provides a portable lap-desk for working away from a traditional table. Designed to keep your skin safe from a hot laptop or portable keyboard, the Decks are made of a lightweight aluminum plate wrapped in a non-skid textured neoprene. Available in three sizes­–13-inch, 15-inch, and 17-inch, to cover a full range of MacBook sizes.

$30 to $36; Grifiti

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