Road Warriors' Essential Mobile Toolkit

If you spend more time with your smartphone and tablet than a computer, here's what you should have with you.

Tools for life on the go

You can do amazing stuff via smartphones and tablets, even when not in your office. But to tap their capabilities to the max, you'll need to pack some peripherals. The following are my picks for what you need for your iOS and Android devices.

iPad, iPhone, and Android chargers and sync cables

Charger block and charge/sync cables

When traveling, bring one charge/sync cable for each device -- you never know when you need to charge more than one simultaneously. Retractable cables can save space, but they tend to break easily, so using rubber bands to corral more-durable cables is a better idea.

Also bring a charger block that can power two devices -- many do just one device, so you need more outlets and chargers. Be sure it supports tablets' higher wattage requirements on at least one port. If you rent cars a lot, get a second charger block that plugs into a cigarette lighter port. I like PowerGen's dual-port USB wall charger and its car charger due to their compact size, nice design, and reasonable prices.

iPad and Android tablet covers

Protective cases, sleeves, and covers for tablets

Many kinds of protectors are available: sleeves, portfolios, cases, and covers. Choose one based on aesthetics and your usage patterns -- sleeves need to go somewhere while you work and are best suited as protection while in transit, for example.

I prefer the combination of a separate screen cover like the Apple Smart Cover and case such as Speck Products' SmartShell because I can put aside the cover while holding the iPad, reducing its weight. You won't find such magnetic covers for Android tablets, so your best option is a case designed for your specific model, such as the Samsung Book Cover. (I'm not a fan of screen films, as they're typically messy and not durable.)

Network gear for iPad, iPhone, and Android

Networking gear

A smartphone or cellular tablet can act as a hotspot for other devices, if your data plan supports such usage. But you should still consider getting a mobile hotspot. Most are tied to pricey contracts, but not the Karma, which provides pay-as-you-go access for $14 per gigabyte. Multiple users can share one device but keep their data accounts separate. It uses T-Mobile's 3G network, so it works only in urban cores, but a Sprint-based LTE version is due this spring for faster, broader coverage.

The Trendnet N150 travel router is great for hotels that don't have Wi-Fi but do have Ethernet jacks, or that charge per Wi-Fi device. Use it to connect all your devices via Ethernet or Wi-Fi.

iPad, iPhone, and Android audio cable

Audio cable

Although more and more cars support Bluetooth audio streaming or have a USB port for connecting a smartphone to a stereo, many -- especially rental cars -- do not. But they have an auxiliary port, so carry around a standard 3mm audio cable. You'll also want it when watching a movie on a hotel or other older TV via a VGA cable.

If you travel with a companion frequently, consider getting an audio splitter so that you can watch the same movie from one tablet.

iPad, iPhone, and Android headphones and earbuds

Headphones and earbuds

For long plane rides, you'll no doubt want to listen to music or movies on your mobile device. Get a pair of good headphones if you travel a lot; unlike earbuds, they cut out a lot of the engine and cabin noise. Although it's pricey and a bit bulky, I especially appreciate my Bose QuietComfort 3 when going cross-country or overseas.

The rest of the time, keep a pair of good earbuds handy. Klipsch's Image S3 has very nice in-canal earbuds, with great sound and a nice array of colors. Apple's EarPods fit nicely if, like me, you don't like the kind of earbuds that insert into your ear canal.

iPad, iPhone, and Android presentation gear

Presentation gear

An iPad or iPhone is a great presentation device, thanks to the Keynote app and iOS's video-out and screen mirroring. You'll need a VGA adapter or HDMI adapter cable -- probably one of each. I also recommend Apple's Keynote Remote app, so your iPhone can remote-control your iPad (or Mac) presentation. If you travel a lot, carry an Apple TV for wireless presentations via HDMI displays, plus Kanex's ATV Pro VGA adapter.

Some Android devices support video-out, through a MicroHDMI or MHL-enabled MicroUSB port, via an HDMI cable or MHL cable. Samsung has a MicroUSB-to-VGA adapter, as does iKross, as well as a MiniHDMI-to-VGA adapter. Too bad there's no widely supported Apple TV-like option yet.

iPad, iPhone, and Android camera gear

Camera gear

The iPhone and Android smartphones have become most people's digicams, thanks to their quality cameras. But SLRs remain critical for pros and even many amateurs -- who like to transfer their photos to smartphones or tablets for image editing or simply to upload to Facebook or Flickr. Consider a phone-mountable SLR like the Sony DSC-QX10.

Some Android devices come with MicroSD slots to make such transfer easy. Otherwise, you'll need a MicroUSB cable that works with your camera or need a card reader adapter to use various media cards.

For iPhones and iPads, you'll need an SD or MicroUSB adapter. Apple's Camera Connection Kit provides both for the Dock Connector. For Lightning devices, Apple offers a separate SD card reader and MicroUSB adapter.

Bluetooth keyboard for iPad, iPhone, and Android

Bluetooth keyboard

Some people hate the onscreen keyboard of a tablet or find it suffices for only short bursts of typing. The answer to that is a Bluetooth keyboard. You can use any Bluetooth keyboard with an iOS or Android device, but you'll prefer one designed for your OS to get its specific keys.

I like Logitech's Tablet Keyboard (available for iOS and for Android). Many users love the Zagg Keyboard Case for iPad. The Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover also has fans raving, with versions for the iPad Mini, iPad Air, and older iPads. All these keyboards protect both the keys and your iPad's screen, and all work as a stand.

Specialty iPad and iPhone equipment

Specialty mobile hardware

People in certain professions can take advantage of specialty hardware for their work. iOS devices have the widest range of such options.

The Square Credit Card Reader lets retailers take card payments almost anywhere, from farmers markets to concerts. And the Epson Mobilink P60 lets retailers print receipts via Bluetooth. The Automatic tracks your mileage, driving routes, and gas costs.

There's a wide range of iPad add-ons for musicians, from 1K Muktimedia's iRig MIDI connector to K&M's iPad holder for music stands. Ben Harvell's "Make Music with Your iPad" book tours the options.

Physicians and nurses might want AliveCor's Heart Monitor (which transmits its readings to an iPhone), the Withings blood pressure monitor, or the AgaMatrix glucose monitor.

USB outlet, print server, and stands for iPhone, iPad, and Android

Mobile gear for home and office

When you are back at the office or at home, you'll no doubt still use your mobile devices. You'll want some mobile tools there, too.

Charging blocks are handy, but I also have installed Cooper Industries' TR7745W USB-equipped power outlets near my desk and entryway for easy charging for my devices -- and my visitors'.

Lantronix's xPrintServer lets any iOS device print to any printer on the network. There are three models: small office/department, home, and large office.

Docking stands are also handy, especially for smartphones and small tablets. I like the simple, swooping Konnet iCrado Pro stands. There are versions for the Dock, Lightning, and Samsung connectors, and they come in many colors.

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