I received an email from a reader last night who was looking for some last minute Christmas ideas for her husband. Starting in January, her husband will be starting a new job that requires a lot of traveling on his part. Knowing that I too have a job that requires a tremendous amount of traveling, she asked for a list of the things I carry with me, aside from my laptop and other work items, that makes my traveling a lot easier and more comfortable. Just minutes after replying to her, I felt that the list I gave her might also be of interest to many of you. So, I decided to provide a few of the items from that list for the rest of you in case you find yourself looking for any last minute Christmas ideas as well.
1. ASUS Transformer TF300T Tablet – $331 at Amazon (attachable keyboard included)
The first thing I never leave home without (aside from my laptop) is my ASUS Transformer TF300T tablet. Even though it’s not a brand new tablet, it’s still one of the best tablets out there in my opinion. It’s still one of the few tablets running a Tegra 3 quad-core processor. It’s also still one of the few tablets to include a micro-SD port and micro-USB port. Just like some of the tablets that are just now starting to show up in the market, the ASUS Transformer Pad supports an attachable keyboard. Not only does the keyboard make it easier to type on the tablet, but it also increases the tablet’s battery life up to 15 hours more! It also provides a touchpad mouse, a full-size SD card slot, and even a full-size USB port. Having the extended battery life is great for when you have long flights, long layovers, or just want to use your tablet a little longer without having to constantly re-charge it. For a more information about the ASUS Transformer Pad, checkout my extensive review here.
2. Toshiba Mobile LED Monitor – $180 at Amazon
The second thing I never travel without is my 15.6 inch Toshiba Mobile LED Monitor. As a software developer, it gets annoying having to continuously swap between my source and the actual application for testing. At home I have multiple monitors which allow me to view my source code and application at the same time. While on the road, it’s not as easy since all I have is my single-screen laptop. To remedy that, I stumbled across this awesome little screen that attaches to my laptop via USB and provides me with a second screen just like at home. When I’m at the hotel, it’s nice to have an additional monitor even if it’s only for displaying my emails. As mentioned, the monitor connects to my laptop via USB and is also powered via a second USB cable. If you don’t want to use up 2 USB ports on your laptop, the monitor can also be powered via an additional AC power adapter (sold separately).
The monitor is only 15.6 inches, but that is plenty for when you need it. You can either extend your display onto the monitor or you can mirror your screen on it. I didn’t think I would ever want to mirror my display onto it. However, on the very first day I used it, I was at a customer’s site where I was trying to give a demo of something, but they didn’t have a projector which would’ve made it extremely difficult to demo had I not have had my Toshiba monitor. In that situation, and several more just like it, I was able to mirror my screen onto the monitor and spin it around so that others in the room could also see my screen without having to crowd around my laptop.
The screen is only about an inch thick and folds up into a really nice leather case that doubles as a stand for the monitor. Since it uses LEDs for the backlight, it does not get hot. Unlike other mobile monitors, this one uses a non-glare screen which makes it easy to see no matter what environment you’re in.
3. Micro HDMI to HDMI Cable – $6.99 at Amazon
The next thing I carry with me when traveling for work is something that most people will probably think is a little unorthodox at first. I’m talking about my micro HDMI to HDMI cable. It’s a 6 feet cable that allows me to connect things like my cellphone and tablets to the TV in my hotel room. Even though I stay in some rather nice hotels when I travel, I don’t always tend to find things on TV that interest me very much. After leaving customer site’s during the day, I usually grab some dinner and take it back to my hotel room where I spend the rest of the night working and always prefer to have some sort of background noise to keep me from going crazy. There are also times that I need a break from the computer and would rather find something on TV to watch. When I find myself with nothing to watch on TV, I can connect my cellphone to the TV using this cable which allows me to stream video from the web (Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime, etc…) to a bigger screen. I typically use my cellphone to do this since I have an unlimited data plan and my cellular data service is usually faster than the internet speeds provided in most hotel rooms. When I do stay in a hotel with a decent internet speed, I’ll connect my tablet to the Wi-Fi and stream video to the TV with this cable.
4. 3M Camcorder Projector – $231.93 at Amazon
The next thing I include in my travel bag is something I’ve written about before. It’s the Shoot ‘n Share HD camcorder and projector in-one. This thing is great! It’s, as the title suggests, a small HD camcorder that can also be used for taking still photographs and even includes a tiny projector which allows for instant playback of your pictures and videos anywhere there’s a flat surface. The camera includes 2GB of internal storage, but can be extended with an additional micro-SD card (sold separately). After you have taken some photos or recording video, you can instantly play them back on the included 2″ screen for self viewing or you can project it on any flat surface for a view between 10 and 65 inches diagonally. It also includes a built-in speaker on the back of it for audio play-back as well.
If you don’t want to use the built-in display or projector, it also includes an AV out port as well as a mini HDMI out port which you can use to connect it to your TV if you desired. It has a great battery life which can be recharged using the included mini USB cable & adapter. It also includes very bright LED on the back that is used as a flash, but can also be used as a flashlight if needed. For example, during our trip to Paris last month, we visited the world famous catacombs where photographs were allowed, but camera flash was not. Since the “flash” can actually be enabled to always be on, as opposed to only flashing when taking a picture, I was able to use the light for seeing my way thru the catacombs as well as illuminating the skulls & bones for decent pictures. While the catacombs employees were stopping others from using flash on their cameras, they let me walk right past them with the light lit up while taking pictures and recording videos.
The camera is about the size of a cellphone which makes it easy to slip into your pocket when not needed. It also includes a mounting hole on the back-side of it which allows you to mount it to a traditional camera stand and even to dash and window mounts if needed. For example, I’ve mounted this camera to the dash of my rental cars and personal vehicles several times to record video while driving. I mostly use the recorded videos for my computer vision software (lane tracking & car detection), but it’s also nice to have in case of any accidents.
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