Wednesday, June 6, 2007

10 Things Every Mobile User Should Know

Make your next gadget-laden journey as painless and productive as possible.
Before You Go
  • Take your iPod instead of your laptop. An iPod (and other portable USB storage devices) can hold computer files, Outlook data, Internet Explorer favorites, desktop wallpaper, and in some cases, applications. Connect the iPod to a borrowed PC, and voilĂ --it's like having access to your own computer. Later, sync the iPod with your PC back home. The Migo ($30) and MojoPac ($30) utilities each provide this capability.
  • Get your faxes as e-mail attachments. charges $2 per month plus 15 cents per page to forward faxes as PDF files in e-mail.
  • Post a reward in case your laptop is lost. Raise your chances of being reunited with a lost laptop by registering it with You'll receive a sticker to put on your notebook, informing others of a reward for its return. To contact you, the finder dials the toll-free number on the sticker or goes to the StuffBak Web site. A $6 sticker provides two years of free return service.
  • Pack your laptop bag with five essentials. You should always take (A) a grounded (three-prong) extension cord with at least three outlets so you can recharge multiple gadgets; (B) blank CDs, for transferring files to another PC or burning tunes to play in the rental car; (C) an RJ-11 phone cord, because you never know when you'll need one; (D) an ethernet cable, for the same reason; and (E) your AC adapter, with airline and car power adapters.
  • Research your seat. Before booking a flight, head over to Charts reveal which seats on domestic and international flights have the greatest width and pitch and provide in-seat power ports.
  • Bonus Tip: Get a multipurpose, wheeled carry-on. Want to minimize the hassle of juggling two carry-on bags? The smartly designed, wheeled Victorinox Coliseum Wheeled Overnight Brief ($399) features an external pocket big enough to hold a laptop bag, plus a capacious interior for clothes, reading material, and other items. You can get it from retailers like
On the Road
  • Get directions on your phone. The free Google Maps for Palm, BlackBerry, and other smart phones shows nearby businesses, gives directions, and delivers real-time traffic info (in 30 U.S. markets).
  • Use your phone as a modem. Most Bluetooth phones (and some others) include data-modem capabilities, enabling you to use your phone to connect your laptop to the Web wirelessly. Check with your carrier for a connection kit and compatible data plan.
  • Go to an airline lounge to stay connected. If there's no hotspot at the airport, you can often connect through a lounge. With a Priority Pass you gain admission into 500 lounges in some 300 airports. Standard membership is $99 per year plus $24 per visit. Also, some clubs now offer $50 day passes.
  • Find a hotspot. Listing more than 120,000 hotspots worldwide, is the place to go when you're sniffing around for a Wi-Fi connection. And its Hotspot Helper software ($25 per year; free ten-day trial) lets you locate hotspots offline, too.
  • Create your own hotel hotspot. Some hotel rooms still offer only wired broadband access. But a portable router--such as Apple's AirPort Express ($129) or Linksys's Wireless-G Travel Router ($100)--lets you create your own wireless network, so you're not shackled to the uncomfortable guest-room desk.