I regularly commute into the city with my “travel tech” and I thought I would share some of my favorite tech accessories that are always in my backpack other than my laptop and iOS devices. Being a mom means that I have to have my travel tech packed and ready to go at a moment’s notice. Some of the products below were provided by companies and if you purchase them our site may earn a small amount. I picked all of these products based on my personal experience and usage of them over time.
LL Bean Quad Pack
I’ve had my LL Bean Quad Pack for several years and it’s stood up very well to the test of time and can hold pretty much anything I need since it includes an integrated laptop sleeve, designated spot for my iPhone, waterbottle and more! There are a ton of pockets and places to store things – and using my clear bags from Mia Tui makes finding things a snap! RRP $79.99 for the Quad Pack from LL Bean.
Griffin Survivor for iPad Mini
I really love the durability that this case provides for my iPad Mini which I frequently slip into my bag to take places with me since it is small and portable. I don’t have to worry about the screen getting scratched since the case features a protective covering. I also loved all the color choices (including my favorite pink!) as well as the nice form factor for the case. My iPad Mini has survived drops, falls, drool and more all while staying protected and no cracks! For me, this is one piece of “insurance” that is totally worth it! You can read my full review of the Griffin Survivor for iPad Mini. Available from Griffin and Amazon for approximately $40 USD.
Mp2301 Performance Mouse by Kensington
My next favorite accessory is my MP2301L Performance Mouse by Kensington. This wireless mouse feels great in my hand, is small and portable and has great battery life. One of the best features about it is the ability to track on almost anything – and that it takes standard batteries which are easy to find if they need replacing. No cables, no cords no fuss! That means I can find a place to sit in the office or at a conference table and still have my mouse no matter where I am! The reciever fits nicely inside the mouse so you don’t lose it when not in use! $39 USD RRP. Available from Kensington or Amazon.
LogiTech Wireless Presenter
I also like to bring my Logitech Wireless Presenter as I have spoken at a few meetings recently and it’s so much easier to use a wireless presenter than having to walk over and click on the slide each time I need to move it forward. One of my favorite things about this presenter is that it has a built in timer which allows me to know if I am spending too little or too much time on a specific slide. It also has great range which means I can walk around the room while speaker rather than being pinned at a podium or in the front of the room. RRP $55 – 80 USD. Available from Logitech or Amazon.
Griffin PowerJolt Dual Charger for the car
Since many of my commutes involve travel time in the car, I also use my Griffin PowerJolt Dual frequently. This charger includes a lightening connection as well as a second port where you can plug in an micro-usb or any other USB accessible cable. That means I can charge my phone and tablet at the same time or two smartphones. RRP $20.00 from Griffin or Amazon.
Mobile Hotspot for Wireless on the Go
A mobile hot spot is another must have, especially when you are not sure how good your internet access will be. I sometimes use my iPhone as a hot spot, but really like this Netgear Verizon hotspot as a better alternative and it has great battery life. I enjoy using my Netgear Hotspot from Verizon since I added it to my wireless plan. Easy to use hot spot that works both inside and outside of the United States, provides great battery life and connectivity for your devices. You can either pay for the device and add the service on the go or put it on contract Check out my review of the Verizon Jetpack by Netgear. RRP without contract is $199 USD and with contract it’s $49.99. Available from Netgear and Verizon.
Cord Storage and Organization
Organizing all of my cords is a snap with my Mia Tui clear plastic bag/PVC bag. These bags have a zipper top and make it easy to see everything inside so I don’t lose any small pieces. They are far more durable than the Ziploc bags I was using, but are not totally waterproof. I like that I can pull the medium size one out of my backpack and have my laptop cord, cables/plugs and chargers all in one spot. RRP is $12.50 USD and they are available from Mia Tui.
Cables! Griffin Premium Braided Lightening Cable
This cable lives in my tech backpack and it has stood up to being plugged, unplugged, used abused and re-used! Griffin’s cable is so much stronger than my traditional lightening cables for my iPhone due to the braiding on the cable which means that you won’t need to treat it as delicately! I love that you don’t need to fuss when plugging it in as it resists kinking and is stable so the connectors don’t break. They offer a wide variety of braided cables for iOS and Android. RRP $35 USD. Available from Griffin and Amazon
Pocket Size Bluetooth Keyboard
If I am attending meetings and I decide not to bring my laptop – this pocket size Bluetooth Keyboard is perfect! It’s a tri-fold and folds up to about the size of my hand meaning I can easily slip it into my bag and use the keyboard to take notes instead of having to bring along my laptop all the time. I have it paired to both my iPad and my iPhone 6 and finding keys on it is so much easier than having to use the on screen keyboard. It lasts a long time too – I’ve used it multiple times and have not had to charge it yet! The keys are a little bit smaller than a traditional keyboard, but honestly after using it for about ten minutes I didn’t notice it at all! RRP $36.99 and it’s available at 1by1 and on Amazon.
Tech Armor Portable Power Bank
With all of these devices, I’d be lost without a portable power bank to ensure that they had power. I’ve recently starting using this power bank from Tech Armor and really like how fast it charges my devices with a small size! I can charge my iPhone (if it dies unexpectedly) or give my iPad a boost so that I can watch a movie on the train. This works with all devices that use USB chargers, and I’ve passed it around a few times to coworkers and friends whose cell has died. Avoid the dreaded “low power mode” that your iPhone goes into just before shutting off! RRP from Tech Armor and Amazon is RRP of $40 USD.
JayBird BlueBuds Headphones
On the train, these headphones are a must since others don’t want to hear my music, my apps or my movies! JayBird BlueBuds X Premium Bluetooth Headphones simply put ROCK! These Bluetooth earbuds pair to a variety of devices without the need for a cord to tether you to your device. They include a filtering system which allows you to hear the music more clearly and feature playtime up to eight hours which means you can use them all week without having to worry about charging them. These earbuds charge using a standard micro-USB connector and for those using Apple devices include a icon on screen telling you how much battery is left so you are not left without your earbuds at the wrong moment. The earbuds fit either in the traditional under-ear which allows you to listen and take calls as well as the over ear which means it doesn’t even feel like you are wearing earbuds. The package includes three pairs of ear tips as well as ear cushions, a micro-USB cable and a carry case to hold your earbuds and the cords. Jaybird has introduced an updated version since my original review, but I still use these a lot and they stand up great! Sold by JayBird and Amazon for RRP of $150 USD.
Apex Fine Point Stylus by Lynktec
When attending meetings, I love to use my Lynktec Apex stylus, as I can use my iPad Mini and the stylus to take notes instead of having to pull out a pen and paper! I can draw and handwrite my notes which is perfect in a meeting, plus everything is stored in one spot so I don’t have to worry about having the right notebook with me. You can use it with or without Bluetooth – without it’s mostly for sketching or note taking within specific apps but if you want to jot down notes it’s best to link it to your device. I loved the fine point and how it learned what I wrote using Notes+. RRP $50 USD available from Lynktec and Amazon.
Wireless Storage – by Seagate Wireless Plus
Do you have memory woe’s on your devices? SeaGate Wireless Plus is there to help! This small drive which is about the size of your hand holds a whopping 1 terabyte of data and works with a variety of devices and smartphones including iOS, Kindle Fire and Android. It includes the ability to pass through Wi-Fi and you only need to connect your devices to the drive rather than having to connect to Wi-Fi which is especially handy if you are out and about or in a conference room at the office and don’t want to connect multiple iPads, iPhones or other devices to the drive. That means you can use your hotspot and not worry about if you are using your laptop, phone or tablet! Read my full review about this “must have” accessory. RRP $140 USD for 1TB (other sizes available) Available from Seagate and Amazon
Leitz Mini Bluetooth Speaker
Have you ever tried to do a presentation in a conference room only to find the tinny speakers on your laptop are not loud enough for others to hear? I stash this small Leitz Mini Bluetooth Speaker in my backpack for those moments! You can connect it to your smartphone, tablet or laptop via Bluetooth and people won’t have to strain their ears to hear sound any longer. It charges using micro USB and will last up to six hours of complete use. You can even use it when you are using your smartphone as a speaker without sounding far away! I like it better for work rather than music! Compact design fits into your bag for on the go use! RRP $35 USD. Available from Amazon.
These are some of my travel “must-haves”, what are yours? I’d love to hear what products you use when you go to work or on the train.
Note: Some of the products included in this article were supplied by the companies for review purposes, no other form of compensation was received. Some of the posts may include affiliate links Their inclusion was the decision of the author, all opinions stated in the article are those of the author and have been offered honestly. This post contains affiliate links, which means I may earn a small amount if you purchase the products.
Over the last few years there have been huge changes in the use of technology in school classrooms. More and more school districts are investing heavily in technology and children are using technology in the classroom from an increasingly early age. In my own local school district we’ve seen the introduction of smartboards, Chromebooks and tablets into the classrooms. To make optimal use of this technology there are often other accessories that are needed alongside the devices themselves.
I recently had the opportunity to review some of Kensington’s line of iPad accessories. With my twin 3rd graders I tested 3 accessories that can be used both in the classroom and at home: the SafeGrip Rugged iPad Case, the Wired Keyboard for iPad with Lightning Connector, and the Gummy Grip Stylus for Kids.
SafeGrip Rugged iPad Case
When using an iPad with kids a must-have is a good protective case. The SafeGrip is a protective case with a built-in carrying handle that also serves as a stand. It is available in versions for all models of iPad and iPad Mini, the different models are slightly different in color choices and shape but have similar construction and functionality. I tested the iPad Mini version.
The SafeGrip is made of a thick, flexible, cushioned material that reminds me of the material Crocs are made from. Installing the iPad in the case is easy, as the material is flexible and it feels secure once in place. It has a textured surface making it less likely to slip out of your hands, and the front of the case is higher than the screen giving it a bumper of protection if dropped face down. My kids loved the carrying handle – and carrying it via the handle is much more secure than carrying the iPad without. There is no built-in screen protector but it does come with an adhesive screen protector. It has a slot in the back to hold a stylus and a place to write a name.
There are 3 different angles to use the iPad- flat, upright and typing mode. In typing mode the handle is folded 90 degrees and the iPad lies at an incline, this position is very stable and works well. In upright viewing mode the handle is also folded to 90 degrees and used as a stand. This mode is stable if the child is not touching the iPad, though a child with poor fine motor skills could knock it over if repeatedly touching the screen.
My children really like this iPad case and I love how protective it is and that it make it easy to carry the iPad securely. I think it is a great case for the classroom.
RRP for SafeGrip for iPad Mini is $39.99 prices vary for other models.
Wired Keyboard for iPad with Lightning Connector
When using the iPad for school work children will often need to type and having a dedicated keyboard is easier then using the iPad’s touchscreen. There are many Bluetooth keyboards on the market but when using it in a school setting a wired keyboard can be a better choice. Having 30 different Bluetooth keyboards in a room competing to connect and ensuring each keyboard is paired with the right iPad can be a nightmare! The Kensington wired keyboard is designed to work with any Lightning connector iOS device and I have tested it with the iPad Mini iPad Air 2 and iPhone 5.
The keyboard has a very rugged feel to it and I think would hold up well in classroom use. It is a similar size to a laptop keyboard, so is more like typing on a computer than most iPad keyboards. Because it connects via the Lightening connector it gets its power from the iPad, so does not need to be recharged or have batteries changed which is another advantage in the school setting. I found it works very well, has comfortable responsive keys and for my 3rd grader son, who has handwriting issues and needs to type a lot of his assignments, it is a great choice.
For a classroom setting I think this is a much better choice than a Bluetooth keyboard, it is rugged, needs no batteries or Bluetooth connection and is comfortable and responsive for typing on. It is also useful at home for children who need to type on a tablet for homework assignments. RRP for the Wired Keyboard is $54.99
Gummy Grip Stylus for Kids
When using iPad apps, especially writing and drawing apps, a stylus can help to keep the iPad screen clean. It is also better for practicing handwriting than using a finger. The Gummy Grip is a stylus designed with children in mind and is sized to fit small hands. I love that its triangular cross-section encourages kids to hold it with a tripod grasp, which is something my 3rd graders are both working on in OT. It also has a hole for a lanyard so you can tie it to the iPad case to prevent the child from loosing it. The only issue I found that was too wide to fit in the stylus storage slot on the back of the SafeGrip case for iPad Mini, which seemed a pity, though you could still attach it to the case via a lanyard. I think the Gummy Grip stylus is a great choice for kids- it is relatively inexpensive at $9.99 and sized to fit small hands.
NOTE: A product was supplied by the company for review purposes, no other form of compensation was received, all opinions stated in the review are those of the author and have been offered honestly.
Thin and light for a keyboard case, feels sturdy, keyboard works well, long battery life and works as phone backup battery.
Can only use stand in landscape mode, only 2 screen positions- flat or typing mode
I would highly recommend the Kensington KeyFolio Thin X3™ Keyboard Case. It is relatively light and thin for a keyboard case, works well for typing and I love the extra functionality as a smartphone backup battery. The case looks professional and has a textured surface making it easy to carry without dropping.
One of the features I really love about my iPad Air™ 2 is how light and thin it is, so I want light, slim accessories to go with it. I find a good keyboard case is essential when using the iPad Air™ 2 to work on the go, but they can often add significant weight and bulk.
I recently tested out the Kensington KeyFolio Thin X3™ Keyboard Case with my iPad Air 2 and found that it is a great option. It weighs approximately 15 oz and not only is it a case and keyboard, but it also acts as a backup charger for my iPhone!
The case is easy to put on and remove and feels secure when in place. The iPad and keyboard are covered by hard shells, a second layer with a textured vinyl surface is firmly attached over the keyboard shell, this continues over the iPad shell, where it is firmly attached over one half of the shell and loosely covers the other half. This creates a hinge holding the Keyboard and iPad together.
When opened the iPad can be placed in a groove on the keyboard, holding it in a good viewing position. One feature I love is the keyboard automatically switches on when the iPad is in the magnetic stand, and switches it off when it is taken out, saving the battery.
When you are not using the keyboard the Quikfold design lets the keyboard fold under the iPad so it can lay flat for playing games or reading. Strong magnets hold the case firmly shut when it is closed as well as automatically activating the iPad’s sleep/ wake modes.
I found it easy to type on, the scissor keys were responsive, and there is a caps lock light, which is missing on many bluetooth keyboards. It has iPad shortcut keys including volume control, track control, copy, paste, spotlight search and Siri.
The keyboard has a 1650mAH built-in battery which gives a long life in normal use (after several months use I have not yet needed to charge it.) A really useful extra feature is that you can use that battery power to recharge your iPhone. I think this is a great idea, so you don’t need to carry a separate phone backup battery. You do need to use an adapter cable (included) to connect your phone. I’d love to see a way to store the cable in the case as I have gone to use it on occasion and discovered I left the cable at home!
Overall, I would highly recommend the Kensington KeyFolio Thin X3™ Keyboard Case. It is relatively light and thin for a keyboard case, works well for typing and I love the extra functionality as a smartphone backup battery. The case looks professional and has a textured surface making it easy to carry without dropping. I like this case enough that it is my current everyday case for my iPad Air 2 – I can use it for working and leisure without feeling like it has turned my thin light iPad Air into a brick!
Available from Kensington, Amazon and other suppliers for US$$99.99
NOTE: A product was supplied by the company for review purposes, no other form of compensation was received, all opinions stated in the review are those of the author and have been offered honestly.
June is a busy time of year with Graduations, school year ending and Father’s Day. If you are looking for a gift for the special man in your life we have put together some great ideas. For female graduates you can find great gift ideas here and also in our recent iThe iMums 10 Great Gift Ideas for Moms. We have gifts to suit all tastes – including an iPhone case that can recharge by solar power, a fun Bluetooth speaker that will make you do a double take as it what it is, a great gift for the Minecraft fan, a product to improve sleep, gifts for the music lover, the man who needs a little help with getting fit and losing weight and lots more. Be sure to check out the full list and let us know what you’ll be buying for your dad or grad- does something on the list catch your eye or do you have other ideas?
iBT12 SoundFlask Wireless Bluetooth Speaker
The iBT12 Flask Shaped Wireless Bluetooth Speaker from iHome is a fun yet practical gift. Available in Silver or Black this wireless Bluetooth speakers looks just like a hip flask and is small enough to fit in a pocket and weighs less than half a pound. It connects to any Bluetooth device to play music on the go and even acts as a speaker phone. It comes with a custom carrying case with carabiner so he can take it anywhere. Despite it’s small size it packs a punch with plenty of volume and sounds surprisingly good for a sub $50 speaker. Available from iHome.com and other retailers RRP US$49.99
Kensington KeyFolio Thin X3™ for iPad Air™ 2
The KeyFolio Thin X3™ for iPad Air™ 2 from Kensington is a great gift for the iPad Air 2 owner. If you have an iPad Air 2 then you want a light, slim accessories to go with it. The KeyFolio Thin X3™ is a great choice, it weighs approximately 15 oz and not only is it a case and keyboard, but it also acts as a backup charger for your iPhone! One feature I love is the keyboard automatically switches on when the iPad is in the magnetic stand, and switches it off when it is taken out, saving the battery. The Quikfold design lets the keyboard fold under the iPad when you want to use the iPad without the keyboard. Strong magnets hold the case firmly shut when it is closed as well as automatically activating the iPad’s sleep/ wake modes. The case looks professional and has a textured surface making it easy to carry without dropping. Available from Kensington, Amazon and other suppliers for US$$99.99
Griffin Twenty Digital Audio Amplifier
For the music lover the Twenty digital audio amplifier from Griffin Technology makes a great gift. It connects via Bluetooth from your phone to your speakers and streams high quality audio at 20 watts per channel. It has a 30-foot Bluetooth range, and is designed to work with your old speakers to bring them into the digital age. It can also physically connect to your AirPort Express or Apple TV, game console or TV via an included optical TOSLINK cable, for clear optical audio. Available from Griffin.com and Amazon for US$149, if your speakers need upgrading it is also available bundled with NHT speakers.
EnerPlex Surfr Case for iPhone 6
The Surfr iPhone 6 Case from EnerPlex is a great iPhone case for keeping his phone charged no matter where he is. It has a 2,700 mAh backup battery built-in to keep his phone charged all day even under heavy usage. As well as charging conventionally via a mini USB/ USB charging cable it also features a built-in solar panel for emergency charging when he is off the grid. Especially useful for those who enjoy the great outdoors, this case is useful for anyone to provide an emergency backup as even when the backup battery has been used the solar panel can recharge it enough for a quick phone call after 10-15 minutes. Available from Enerplex.com for US$99.99
The Gameband + Minecraft is the perfect gift for the Minecraft fan, it is both a fashion statement and a secure way of backing up Minecraft worlds and taking them with you wherever you go. As well as the physical backup on the Gameband there is also a backup via the cloud to the Gameband servers so if you ever lose or damage your Gameband you can still recover your worlds. It is very easy to use, and you can customize the display with your own Minecraft themed animation. It can also display the date and time, doubling as a digital watch as well as a cool wearable. Available from Target, Best Buy, Gamestop, Microsoft shops and other retailers for US $79.99. Read our full review
Sleep Companion from Holi
Getting a good night’s rest and waking up feeling refreshed is one of the most important things we can do for our health and happiness. The Sleep Companion by Holi can’t make you go to bed any earlier but is can help you relax at bedtime and set the right spectrum of light to naturally prepare your body for sleep. Then 20 minutes before your alarm is due to go off it will gradually come on with just the right color lighting to decrease your melatonin ready to wake up feeling refreshed. It has an alarm feature that works with your phone to wake you up with a choice of 3 gentle audible alarms. It can also monitor how much sleep you re getting, so you can track it over time. Available from Holi.com US $99, and available for pre-order on Amazon
Kiqplan Beer Belly Blaster
If the man in your life needs a little help getting on track with his fitness and weight loss goals the Beer Belly Blaster from Kiqplan may be just what he needs. instead of buying yet another activity tracker it will work with the one he has- whether that be a Jawbone UP, Fitbit, FitBug Orb, Nike+ Fuelband or many more. You get an individualized exercise and nutrition plan, with recipes, workout videos, daily targets advice and feedback. This is a 12 week plan available from kiqplan.com for US$19.99
Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop
Ergonomic wireless keyboard incorporates a split keyboard with seperate keypad desgined to reduce wrist fatigue and position arms and wrists in a more natural position. Includes a “Windows” button on the mouse which provides one click access to the desktop/start screen. Great battery life and comfortable to use for hours. Available from Amazon for US$87.00
3D Back Massage by Brookstone
The 3D Back Massager by Brookstone is a portable back massager that features built in carry handles, twelve “massage” nodes featuring the Shiatsu method and provides a deep massage to your back. If you sit at a desk all day, or have a sore back from shoveling show and ice, you may notice tension and some back fatigue. This massager which fits on any chair or couch moves up and down, side to side and front to back while providing a massage that loosens your sore back or body. One direction massages toward the spine, and the other massages away from your spine. You can flip the massager from top to bottom which allows for a more focused massage on the lower back. Available from Brookstone for US$119
Just Mobile AluPen Digital Stylus
Lightweight stylus with a 1.8 mm tip is made of hard plastic and feels more like a ballpoint pen when using it compared to a traditional stylus. I used it comfortably on my iPad Mini covered with a Griffin Survivor – and you could definitely “hear” the audible tap when it made contact with the screen, but with contact I found better precision and Available from Just Mobile for US $39.99
For additional gift ideas check out these articles from The iMums: iThe iMums 10 Great Gift Ideas for Moms. Awesome iPod, iPhone & iPad Accessories for Kids, Gorgeous iPod, iPhone & iPad Accessories for Women, and Cool iPhone & iPad Accessories for Men.