10 Laptop Boosters
A list of 10 Things every laptop owner should have to make their experience more productive and fun.Published Apr 6, 2006 by lobo235
Last updated on Oct 13, 2008
I love using my laptop but sometimes it can be a pain. I hate using the touch-pad instead of a regular mouse. I don't like having to worry about how much battery life I have left. The list goes on and on. Don't get me wrong though, I couldn't function without my laptop. There are a lot of things that I like about laptops and there are a lot of things I like about desktops. Here is a list of 10 things that will make your laptop experience a whole lot better.
1. USB Light
A USB light will come in very handy when you use your laptop in the dark. It plugs into your USB port and can bend into pretty much any position you want so that you can easily light up your keyboard. They are usually really cheap too which is nice.
2. Laptop Case/Backpack
I have seen some people that spend a lot of money on a laptop but then they don't get a case, instead they just put the laptop in a regular backpack with their school books or other random items. These people have learned the hard way that this is one of the fastest ways to scratch/damage your laptop. A regular backpack offers no padding for your laptop so if you set your backpack down roughly or someone bumps into it your laptop has a higher chance of getting damaged. Using a case/backpack that was specifically designed for use with a laptop will keep the wear-and-tear to a minimum.
3. External Mouse
If you get frustrated/annoyed with the touch-pad on your laptop then this can be one of the best things to get to enhance your laptop experience. Of course there are some times when you will be stuck using the touch-pad because you have nowhere to put an external mouse. This is usually when you have the laptop on your lap or other uneven surface. There are plenty of mice to choose from when looking for an external mouse for your laptop. There are itty-bitty mice designated as 'travel' mice that are very hard to use if you are over the age of 10 and have regular-sized hands. There are cordless mice, Bluetooth mice, corded mice, etc. My recommendation is to get a regular-size mouse that is cordless. One in particular that I really like is the Logitech Cordless Media Play mouse. It is cordless and has a very small USB thumb-drive sized transmitter. It has a bunch of extra buttons on it that allow you to control most media players such as Windows Media Player, Winamp, and so on. It gives you volume adjustment buttons, play/pause, stop, next/prev, etc. It also has impressive range so you can use it across the room when you want to pause a movie or go to the next song in your playlist. The Logitech Media Play mouse also comes with a USB cradle you can use with your desktop computer. This makes it very easy to take the mouse with you for laptop use and bring it back to use with your desktop.
winKeyLock is a program that will block input from the touch-pad/mouse and keyboard so that you can play a movie without it getting interrupted. This is great if you have kids that like to watch movies on your laptop. I can't remember how many times I have put on a show for my daughter or her cousins to find that one of them has either stopped the movie or locked-up the computer using some magic combination of keys. winKeyLock is a lifesaver. Get winKeyLock here.
5. Video and Audio Cables
One of my favorite things to do with my laptop is to hook it up to the TV so I can watch movies on a larger screen. In order to do this your laptop must have some form of video out connection and a microphone jack. Most laptops have either an S-Video output or regular video output and every laptop I have seen has a microphone jack. You will also need to get two very cheap cables that hook up to your TV. If your laptop has an S-Video output then you will need an S-Video cable to transmit the video signal to your TV and you will also need a cable for the audio that will connect to the headphone jack and give you the standard RCA connections that your TV probably has for audio. If your laptop has a standard video output you will need a regular video cable instead of the S-Video cable. The regular video cable typically has yellow connectors and the audio cables typically have white and red connectors. Watching movies on your TV from your laptop is easiest when you use the Logitech Media Play mouse mentioned above because it works just like a remote.
6. Vinyl Stickers
Personalize your laptop using vinyl stickers. Vinyl laptop stickers are nice because they can easily be removed if you ever sell your laptop or get a new one. There are a few sites out there that will let you design your own laptop stickers and they will cut them for you.
7. Extended-Life Battery
Some laptops have horrible battery life. Getting the extended-life battery that is usually offered for most laptops is generally a good idea. They are quite a bit more expensive but if you plan on being able to use your laptop for a long time without having to charge the battery then you will need the extended-life battery. My current laptop has an extended-life battery and with the screen brightness turned down it will last for about 5 1/2 hours which allows me to get a lot of work done.
8. Wireless router
This one is pretty much a no-brainer and most laptop owners already have a wireless router but it needs to be listed here anyway. One of the freedoms that a laptop can give you is the ability to compute wherever and whenever you want. A lot of my time is spent using the internet so if I didn't have wireless internet access I would lose my freedom because I would have to be tethered to a network cable all the time. With a wireless router you will be able to connect to the internet wherever you decide to use your laptop in your home/office.
9. Headphones and Y-Splitter
Usually laptop speakers are not very good. They are not loud enough and they give a very shallow sounding reproduction of whatever you are listening to. Invest in a decent pair of headphones. Your laptop is great because it can function as an MP3 player, personal video player, gaming system, and much more. With a pair of headphones you will be able to perform these functions without bothering those around you. Also, consider getting a headphone jack y-splitter if you want a friend to be able to join you as you watch a movie, play a game, or listen to music. Its not fun to have to share one of your earpieces because you can hear things as well.
NetStumbler is a great program that can be used to figure out wireless problems at home or in the office. I have used it to find a good isolated channel to put my wireless router on so that it doesn't share the same channel as my neighbors. It will give you the signal strength of any nearby wireless networks which is useful when trying to decide where you want your wireless router to be located. Use NetStumbler to walk through your home/office and monitor the signal strength to make sure that it is at an acceptable level wherever you plan to use your laptop. Get NetStumbler here.
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