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A good accessory should complement or enhance the functionality of the main product. Whether it’s a printer working with a computer, or an Apple Pencil with an iPad Pro, the two should work in lockstep to give you a better experience.
But accessories get expensive, some can run well into the three-digit range, and some are meant for only a niche audience. To make your day-to-day computing experience better, though, a few key, inexpensive accessories can make all the difference.
Whether you’re trying to charge multiple devices at once, keep your stuff more secure, or clear up clutter, these 20 accessories can make that happen — all for $A25 or less:
If you've got tech you want to stay put, then protect it! Kensington lock ports are still available on a wide variety of laptops and are definitely a theft-deterrent.
A hub with a twist! USB hubs have become a fairly standard accessory, but Cateck ups the ante a little by including a micro and regular SD card reader alongside the three USB 3.0 ports.
What makes the inclusion of the card readers so nice is that this hub puts them at arm's-reach. Even though most laptops and desktops have built-in card readers, they're typically somewhat inconvenient. This is especially true if you've got a laptop in a stand hooked up to a display. This hub eliminates that problem.
Unlike Bluetooth keyboards, Bluetooth mice are a pretty pricey proposition. Instead, this Amazon Basics wireless mouse requires the use of a USB port for a little receiver.
There's not a lot to say about this mouse. It's not going to win any design awards, but the upshot is that picking one up frees your desk from yet another cable. It also compliments the Anker keyboard quite nicely.
I've used Anker's Bluetooth keyboards for over a year, and I can't recommend them highly enough. They are light, compact, and easy to set up and have pretty solid battery life.
Don't be put off by the inclusion of iOS-looking glyphs on some of the keys -- specifically the home-button key in the upper-left corner. The keyboard works just fine with any desktop or laptop you pair it with. That said, if you're looking for a keyboard to pair with a tablet, then this is a good choice.
We've already discussed the Mohu Leaf in a previous article, but it deserves inclusion here because it provides solid service for a budget price.
Reception will vary largely depending on where you live, so it would be in your best interest to check out TvFool and AntennaWeb to get a sense of what over-the-air channels are available in your area. If you like what you see and want to dip your toe into the TV-antenna space, then give the Mohu Leaf a try.
Thankfully, smartphone battery life has gotten better over the years, and Android and iOS now have built-in low-power modes. That said, it's still anxiety-producing to see your battery at 20% halfway through a transatlantic flight.
This external battery by Jackery has enough juice to charge your iPhone or Android phone multiple times before needing to be recharged itself. The inclusion of two USB ports for simultaneous charging is a nice touch.
If you're looking for a fairly no-frills way to protect any member of the MacBook family, then it's worth considering these hard-shell cases from Mosiso.
The two-part case will protect the top and bottom of your laptop from scratches, but it probably won't provide a tremendous amount of shock support if your device suffers a nasty fall. That said, some protection will always be better than no protection. For the form- and fashion-minded, this line of cases comes in a variety of colours and patterns, some of which are device-exclusive.
Don't buy this mini speaker if you're looking for booming bass and audiophile sound -- there are plenty of other products to recommend if that's what you're after.
Instead, this 1.7-inch cube will provide 12 hours' worth of listening time, connect with Bluetooth, NFC, or a standard 3.5mm audio cable, and fit into your pocket. Think of it more as a kitchen or podcast speaker and your expectations should be met.
If you've ever fought over who gets to use the phone charger, then this multi-port hub from Aukey will solve that problem forever.
Having the ability to charge everyone's devices before trips makes packing significantly less stressful. If you live with roommates or have a family, then sticking one of these in the kitchen will be a game-changer.
If you're looking for a way to safely use Google Maps while driving, then it's a good idea to invest in a way to mount your phone on the dashboard.
There are two types of products that accomplish this: mounts that clip onto your car's air vents, like this AUKEY mount, or those that adhere to your dashboard with a suction cup. I've used a suction-cup mount for a couple of years, but want to move over to the dash. Because of the heat of the summer months, I've had my phone mount fall while driving.
AUKEY's car mount is compact, supports most phones, and promises to hug the air vents tight enough not to get loose over bumpy roads.
Still have non-rechargeable devices running around the house? The most cost-effective way to keep them running is to buy rechargeable batteries.
In many cases, the actual batteries and charging cradle are sold separately, but this set from Panasonic bundles them together. The batteries can be fully recharged overnight and hold a majority of their charge for 10 years. They're also available in AAA size, which is the most common size of batteries for TV remotes.
Panasonic Advanced Individual Cell Battery Charger Pack with 4AA Eneloop 2100 Cycle Rechargeable Batteries, $A22.80, available at Amazon
All of the tech accessories on this list serve a useful purpose, but this is the one I feel most passionately about.
After frying some pretty expensive gadgets in college by plugging them directly into an outlet, I decided to use a surge protector whenever possible. Over the years I've bought this one from Belkin multiple times, and haven't had a problem since.
It has 12 outlets, which should be fine for most people, and while it's a little on the big side, it's better to use it and be safe than sorry.
One of the most essential tools when hooking up your laptop to an external monitor is a good laptop stand.
This one from Amazon keeps your laptop propped up at an angle, so you can use it as a second screen even when using your monitor. This is the setup I have at work and it works very well. I'm definitely more productive than I would be otherwise.
The cloud is getting more reliable, but using it to move large files around still requires a very fast internet connection, so it still pays to keep a flash drive handy. This drive from SanDisk should be perfect for most day-to-day tasks.
It's got 64 GB of storage -- enough to hold thousands of pictures, songs, and documents, or hours of HD footage. It's also capable of transferring data at USB 3.0 speeds, so getting stuff onto and off of the drive will be snappier than using older flash drives.
Now that good weather has made its way to many parts of the world, it's a great time to start jogging outside. But if you'd like to run while listening to music, then this armband case is a good bet.
What puts this phone armband case above the rest I've seen or used is the inclusion of a slot for your key. That's one less thing to worry about while trying to beat your longest distance or best time. It's also not device-specific and can be used with current iPhone models as well as last year's Samsung Galaxy phones.
Tribe Water Resistant Sports Armband, $A12.65, available at Amazon (for iPhone 7-sized phones)
Tribe Water Resistant Sports Armband, $A10.15, available at Amazon (for iPhone 7 Plus-sized phones)
Like the MacBook case I recommended, this iPhone case is no-frills and comes with the same advantages and caveats.
While the pictured case is for the iPhone 6, JETech makes the same case for a whole host of Apple and Android devices. There are a lot of cases that are more 'life-proof,' but few that are as thin and light -- the trade-off is up to you.
It's never a bad idea to have extra charging cables around, especially if you've recently picked up a multi-port USB hub or external battery.
For a pair of earbuds, this product, from Francois et Mimi, has a couple of nice extras to balance out its budget sound.
The first is that the buds are made of silicone and come with three different-size tips. Silicone is softer than hard plastic, and having the size options means that this pair of headphones should fit most people's ears. The second is the inclusion of a mic, so they can be used for phone calls. They won't be as nice as some other headphones we can recommend, but these should be a pretty good pair for everyday listening or your commute.
Like it's mouse, Amazon's line of laptop bags won't win any design awards, but its choice of function over form makes them a good budget option.
While the line goes from fitting 7- to 10-inch netbooks to 17-inch mega-laptops, the sweet spot should be the 14- and 15.6-inch versions. They have three slots, so they can accommodate the laptop, chargers, cables, external batteries, or anything else you can throw at them. The basic, non-padded handles will probably become uncomfortable if you hold the bag like a briefcase, but the shoulder strap does have a pad that should spare you from pain.
Lamicall has focused on form and function when designing this stand, which it claims can accommodate anything from a smartphone to an iPad Mini.
I have a stand very similar to this, and having a hole to thread a charging cable through is a nice way to reduce desk clutter. The aluminium build of the stand is meant to match the Apple aesthetic, but should look fine on a desk next to any computer or monitor.
This article was originally published on 6/1/2016.
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