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 5 accessories can make that happen — all for $20 or less:
USB hub with micro and regular SD card readers
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.
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.
A portable battery
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.
A pocket-size Bluetooth speaker
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.
A car-phone mount
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 Zilu 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.
The Zilu is compact, supports phones up to 6 inches in size, and promises to hug the air vents tight enough not to get loose over bumpy roads.
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