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Laptop accessories

Andrzej Pająk

A notebook is an all-in-one type of product, but to work or play on it comfortably, we'll need a few extra things. The most important are a mouse and something that will keep the computer safe during transport.

Mice: small or for gaming

Some might say you don't need a mouse for your laptop. Why, you've got a built-in trackpad, have you not? I assure you, in the long run, a "rodent" of your own is absolutely essential. Working with text, photo editing, let alone playing games, all these activities simply scream to be done with a mouse in hand. It's just easier and more comfortable.

For every use outside of gaming you should go with a wireless mouse. Bluetooth ones are the best, as you don't need any extra plastic to connect them to your computer. Or you could go for a mouse with a dedicated 2,4 GHz receiver. It will be cheaper, but keep in mind that you'll have to sacrifice one of your laptop's USB ports for the receiver. And it will stick out if you don't want to store it somewhere else during transport.

Gamers have it easier. Here wired mice are king, as they have the shortest reaction time. There are some differences, but I'm not even going to try explaining them in such a short text. Beginners should look for a mouse with a lot of additional buttons, comfortably positioned just below their fingers. One more important feature is the ability to change the mouse's resolution . The higher the DPI (8000 for example) the more precise your actions, such as, for example, aiming in games like CS:GO. For starters, the bare minimum should be set at 2000 DPI. You should also be able to save these parameters for each game you play.

No matter what you choose, the size of your mouse should always fit your hand. It's especially important when picking a mouse for a child, or a delicate, woman's hand.

Bags, backpacks, cases: laptops don't enjoy being bumped

A laptop is, of course, not a phone. It's fairly safe to say we won't simply drop it on the floor. We don't move it as often, we're more careful with it. However, I more than once almost had a heart attack when I absent-mindedly threw my laptop bag on a concrete floor. Fortunately nothing happened, but only because the bag's laptop compartment was fitted with a thick layer of foam.

Hence, it's not the overall look, but a properly secured compartment for the laptop, and additional ones for a mouse and an AC adapter are what characterizes a good bag, or backpack. The coating needs to be thick enough so that you won't panic every time you bump the bag into a door frame, or drop it to the floor in a not-so-elegant manner.

You need to be extra careful when choosing a case. Its role is to protect, not to attract attention with its design. That's why it cannot be made of some extra thin fabric, and it should have a resilient tube under the zipper that will protect your laptop's edges. It's also important to remember that in this case (sorry for the pun) size does matter. A small, 13" notebook will fit into a 17.3" bag, no problem, but it's not the best idea ever, as the little guy will have way too much wiggle room in there. You should pick a case that will fit your laptop as tightly as possible, so it can't move around.

Pads/stands: sounds funny, but your back will thank you for it

Theoretically, a laptop - as the name suggests - should be kept on your lap. I use it like this while browsing the internet in front of the TV myself, but my notebook likes to warm up which makes the whole situation, especially for men, rather unhealthy. Better put it on a stand.

Reorganizing your workspace will definitely help keep your private parts healthy, but it still has little to do with proper computer ergonomics. Do an experiment and put your laptop next to a 24" monitor. OSH rules have stated for years that the top edge of the screen should be set at eye level. And what does it look like when working on a laptop? Bad!

To make it good we'll need a pad, or a special laptop stand. The simplest constructions raise just the back of the computer and, in turn, the screen about 10-15 cm. More pro-ergonomic stands raise the whole laptop, which means your workplace will need an external keyboard.

Docking stations: one click and everything's connected

With mentioned before ways of improving your computer work ergonomics, many business laptops have been designed so that you can quickly and easily plug them into a docking station. One click and the computer is connected to an ac adapter, an external drive, LAN, a printer, a keyboard, and other peripherals. An elegant, and, from a business standpoint, safe solution, as it minimizes the need for Wi-Fi use.

For home use we don't need to go that far with security, and our keyboards, mice, or printers can be connecter to the laptop wirelessly. But if we want to use an additional screen, an external drive, LAN, and, let's say, speakers, it might be a good idea to consider buying a hub. Instead of connecting 4-5 cables every time, we'll just need one.

And if you're using a very thin ultrabook with a small screen and, for example, only two USB ports, such a purchase is practically a must.

Privacy filters

Today, when talk of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) can be heard from every direction, every minute of every day, it's really important to protect sensitive data we store on our computers. Everyone who works with such data, but also people who value their privacy, should find privacy filters interesting. It's a special film you put on your laptop's screen to greatly reduce what can be seen from the side.

It's made of hundreds of microshutters preventing other people from peeping at your screen. It's so effective, that if you decide to work on your laptop while on a train, or an airplane, your neighbor won't be able to see what you're doing. The only downside is the screen looks a bit darker than usual.

Anti-theft solutions

Some may ask "for what"? Well, let me answer that question: for typical home use you'll make do without it, but if you're working at a big corporation it might come in handy. I've heard of a few examples of audacious thefts of laptops that were left on desks, unprotected. The only thing we can do to prevent things like that from happening is to use a security cable compatible with the Kensington Lock system. It's a thin, steel cable you secure around some part of your desk (i.e. a leg) from one side, and plug the other side into a special Kensington-lock-slot you'll find in most business laptops. You can't just snatch a laptop secured this way from a desk without first picking it up and untangling the cable, which should be enough to discourage a potential thief.

If you're still hungry for more accessories, you can always go for something unconventional, like an elastic LED lamp you plug into a USB port, and in the summer it's not a bad idea to have a small cooling fan to feel a bit of wind in your hair.