No outfit is complete without them, and dressing up your laptop is no different. Accessories can add functionality to your notebook in the form of storage space, USB 3.0 ports, or handwriting recognition. Some add-ons, such as louder external speakers or a high-def webcam, really augment what you already have. Others can enhance your style on the go in the form of a case or backpack. We’ve gone from A to Z to help you maximize your PC.
Aluratek 2 Port USB 3.0 SuperSpeed ExpressCard (AUEC100F)
You can increase data transfer rates up to 10 times by upgrading your notebook to USB 3.0 with this PCI ExpressCard (and buying a USB 3.0 drive). Plus, these two additional ports are backward compatible, and the device comes with a limited one-year warranty.
Belkin Conserve Insight
Do you know how much it costs to keep your notebook charger plugged in for a week? This power plug from Belkin can tell you that as well as the wattage used and the amount of carbon dioxide that energy creates. Simply plug in your notebook and then plug in the Conserve Insight.
Corsair Flash Padlock 2
Built-in 256-bit hardware data encryption and a 4- to 10-digit PIN safeguards your data, while a rubber housing protects this device from the elements. And if this portable flash drive does end up in the wrong hands, multiple failed PIN entries lock it for 2 minutes.
$53.99 (8GB), $109 (16GB); www.corsair.com
Dell SP2309W 23-inch Full HD Monitor with Webcam
Get stunning resolution with this 2048 x 1152-pixel display that boasts a sky-high 80,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio. Plus, make your Skype calls sharper with the integrated 2-megapixel webcam.
Echo Smartpen by Livescribe
Record handwritten notes on special paper you can print yourself or buy in notebook form ($7.95), and sync the text with audio recorded during lectures or meetings. You can transfer the files to your laptop via micro-USB. Plus, Livescribe now offers an app store, including games.
$169 (4GB), $199 (8GB); www.livescribe.com
Freetalk Everyman HD
This USB-powered webcam presents you in 720p quality when making calls via Skype HD, and can go with you anywhere. It offers an autofocus lens and frame rates between 15 and 30 fps, depending on lighting conditions and connection speeds.
G-Track USB Condenser Mic with Audio Interface by Samson
YouTube stars, podcasters, performers, and even those just interested in improving their Skype conversations will need a better mic than the one built into their notebook. This USB-powered model comes with a built-in audio interface and mixer for simultaneous stereo input.
HP Officejet 4500 Wireless All-in-One
Print, scan, fax, and copy with the Officejet 4500—perfect for any home office. Connect this Energy Star all-in-one printer to your network via Ethernet or USB 2.0, and get up to 28 pages per minute in black and white or 22 ppm in color.
iGo Laptop Travel Charger
Add juice to your notebook without wasting power; iGo Green Technology shuts this charger off when your device is full. About the size of a deck of cards, this little guy is compatible with 12 of the most popular laptop brands.
JBL On Tour XTB
When connected to your laptop via Bluetooth, this high-performance speaker pumps out clean, powerful sound in a sleek, black, portable design that’s powered by four AA batteries. It’s also compatible with smart phones, MP3 players, and any other device.
Kensington ComboSaver Combination Portable Notebook Lock
You can’t keep your eyes on your laptop at every second. Protect it with this self-coiling cable that extends from 3 inches up to 6 feet and lets you set a code from up to 10,000 unbreakable possibilities. Forget your combination? After registering online, your password will never be lost.
Logitech Premium 4-Port USB Hub for Notebooks
Don’t have enough ports to plug in all your gear at once? This USB 2.0 hub adds four more to your notebook and is small enough to slide into your bag. Plus, it comes with a three-year warranty.
Microsoft Arc Mouse
Stow it flat, and pop it into its edgy curved form when you’re ready to work; the Arc Touch Mouse sports a touch-sensitive strip with vibration feedback for easy scrolling.
Norazza Endust for Electronics 4 oz. Anti-Static Cleaning and Dusting Pump Spray 097000
Keep your notebook and accessories static- and dust-free with a couple quick sprays and a wipe. It doesn’t have oil, wax, or ammonia, so it won’t harm your gear.
OCZ Enyo USB 3.0
Featuring the performance of an internal SSD and the portability of an external hard drive, the USB 3.0 OCZ Enyo is covered in a durable anodized aluminum shell. Goes great with the Aluratek USB 3.0 ExpressCard.
$209 (64GB), $379 (128GB), $759 (256GB); www.ocztechnology.com
Philips Wireless Presenter
Use this presentation remote like a mouse in the air, thanks to its clever peripheral’s built-in gesture control. The intuitively placed buttons make the Wireless Presenter easy to use, and the receiver dongle conveniently stores inside the device when you’re on the move.
Quirky Power Curl
Designed by the Mac owner community in less than 24 hours, this dead-simple product keeps the Mac power cord in a cleanly wound pile, but works for PC cords as well.
Rickshaw Bagworks Backpack 2.0
This waterproof backpack for 15-inch laptops is available in 2,000-plus combinations of fabrics. It sports a removable laptop sleeve, and can morph from a backpack to messenger with detachable shoulder straps.
$160 (Skinny), $180 (Regular); www.rickshawbags.com
Sprint 3G/4G USB Modem 250U by Sierra Wireless
Get mobile broadband speeds up to 10 times faster than 3G in 36 cities and counting with this mini modem. The 180-degree rotating hinge fits horizontal and vertical USB ports.
Free (with two-year contract and $50 mail-in-rebate) plus $59.99 per month for unlimited 4G data and 5GB over 3G; www.sprint.com
Targus Unofficial 14-inch Messenger
Inside, there’s plenty of storage for all your gear, complete with a padded laptop compartment lined with a breathable mesh fabric. The exterior is lined with water-resistant black or brown fabric. The best part: a limited lifetime warranty.
Ultimate Ears 200 Noise-Isolating Earphones
Available in five sizes and three graphic designs, these earbuds feature noise-isolating technology for a comfortable fit that helps block out the din around you.
As a central hub for storage, this 1TB network drive can hold and share tons of files, photos, songs, and videos from multiple PCs. It's also easy to access your home media when you’re away through Myverbatim.com.
Western Digital My Passport Essential
It’s easier than ever to take all your data with you wherever you go with this portable hard drive. Simply choose the size and color—Arctic White, Cool Silver, Midnight Black, Pacific Blue, or Real Red—to fit your style. It comes with automatic backup software and both password protection and hardware encryption.
$69.99 (250GB), $89.99 (320GB), $109 (500GB), $139 (640GB); www.westerndigital.com
Xerox Card Scanner 200
Turn any business card, document, driver’s license, or receipt into a digital file in seconds with this USB-powered portable scanner. Then export the data into Outlook, or view them as searchable PDFs.
Yurbuds Earbud Enhancers
You don't have to spend a bundle to listen in comfort. These silicone caps fit on top of your existing buds for a snug fit. If you send the site a photo of your ear, Yurbuds will size the enhancers for you.
Zalman NC2500 Plus
Two 50-mm fans pull fresh air into a chamber inside the NC2500 Plus to help keep your laptop cool. But it’s the extra features that make this accessory special: three USB 2.0 ports and a 2.5-inch SATA hard drive mounting bay make room for extra storage while you work. $59.99; www.zalman.com