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Hammock with Laptop

What You Need To Work On The Go

Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, it’s easier than ever to replicate many of the functions of the office on the go. Technological advancements mean that most, if not all of the tasks that knowledge workers engage in on a daily basis can be performed remotely, as high-speed internet becomes increasingly widespread and innovations in mobile computing enable greater productivity. If you’re lucky enough to work for a company that allows you to work remotely, or if you’re self-employed, you’ll need the right tools to help you get the job done. Perhaps the most difficult aspect of transitioning to mobile work is choosing the technology that’s most useful to you when on the go without breaking the bank. As such, this article offers several recommendations for the traveling employee.

An essential part of maintaining productivity, of course, is staying organized. This can be difficult when traveling, particularly when your job requires you to bring several different pieces of technology with you. As such, investing in a bespoke electronics organization system is essential. Depending on your budget, several options are available; if you’re not afraid to splurge, the Stow First-Class Leather Tech Set, which costs $545, enables a luxurious travel experience. For more budget-conscious consumers, the Brooklyn Tech Envelope offers similar functionality and style and is currently on sale for $89.99, and the bare-bones BAGSMART Electronic Organizer gets the job done while maintaining a suitably professional appearance for $23.99. All three of these bags are custom-built to carry your technology, taking much of the headache out of planning your work trips.

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Once you accumulate a certain number of mobile devices, keeping all of their batteries charged can quickly become a nightmare, as charging solutions for different products are often mutually incompatible. What’s worse, different countries use different electrical systems, often forcing consumers to purchase power adapters specific to the local they’re visiting. Thankfully, plenty of universal power adapters exist to alleviate the hassle. For $39.99, the BESTEK Universal Travel Adapter enables compatibility with different types of outlets from around the world, featuring multiple USB ports to charge seven devices simultaneously. If you want to save some money, SLMASK’s Travel Adapter is half the price and offers similar functionality, though it can only charge five devices at once. For a nominal up-front cost, both of these options eliminate the hassle of managing several different charging systems for each of your devices.

Though smartphones and tablets have made substantial progress in incorporating productivity features, laptops are still the best way to get any serious work done on the go, as their built-in physical keyboards and precision input capabilities enable more complex interactions with computers. If you’re in the market for a new laptop, plenty of impressive and budget-friendly options have recently hit the market. While it’s not the cheapest option available, the $1,099 MacBook Air features a gorgeous design, brilliant display, and powerful specifications of the machine are of particular interest to people who depend upon MacOS-exclusive applications like Final Cut Pro for their work. If you can get away with using little more than a web browser, though, the comparatively inexpensive Google Pixelbook Go and Acer Chromebook 15, retailing for $650 and $350 respectively, present worthy alternatives. 

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If you’re someone who relies on making VoIP or video calls to coordinate with your colleagues, a quality portable audio system is valuable. Wireless headphones are becoming all the rage as of late, and higher-end models include microphones and noise-cancelling features, a bonus for frequent fliers for reducing annoying cabin noise. Over-ear wireless headphones offer superior battery life to wireless earbuds, and often offer superior audio quality as well. A good budget product offering these features is the TaoTronics TT-BH22 Active Noise Cancelling Bluetooth Headphones. If you’re willing to spend more money for improved sound quality and premium design and materials, the Bose Headphones 700 for $399 and Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless Headphones for $349 offer a superior listening experience.

Your tech travel preparations wouldn’t be complete without an anti-theft backpack. Fortunately, several tech-friendly options exist on the market, such as the $199 Voltaic Systems OffGrid 10 Watt Rapid Solar Backpack Charger, which features a solar panel to charge an internal battery which can power your devices. Cheaper options include the minimalistic Travelon Anti-theft Urban Incognito Backpack for $79.22 and the Oscaurt Anti-theft Travel Backpack for $31.99.

Microsoft

Microsoft Hopes to Revolutionize Computing with Surface Neo and Duo

Though its Windows line of products has represented by far the most popular choice of operating system for decades, Microsoft is relatively new to the hardware space, as the cornerstone of its business has long been its software offerings. Barring their Xbox series of video game consoles, the company has only been manufacturing mobile computing devices for a few years, starting with its innovative Surface 2-in-1 laptop/tablet hybrid in 2012. With the original Surface tablet, Microsoft intended to directly compete with Apple’s iPad line, but also aimed to innovate on the form factor by offering a keyboard accessory and a kick stand as well as compatibility with the Surface Pen, for precise touch input. While the Surface line of products has been a moderate financial success for Microsoft, the products have received acclaim from critics and consumers alike, and the Surface products have a very high favorability rating among customers.

Building on the success of its Surface tablets, and iterating on the philosophy of enabling different types of functionality that inspired the design of these tablets, Microsoft recently announced an entirely new suite of Surface products, many of which will not launch until Holiday 2020. The most notable of Microsoft’s announcements are the Surface Neo and the Surface Duo, which are a folding tablet and a folding smartphone, respectively. These two products have  a form factor which is fundamentally unlike any product that has since been announced, marking a bold new direction for the company. The two products, the latter of which resembles a smaller version of the former, feature two displays placed almost directly next to one another, separated by a hinge that allows the device to fold 360 degrees.

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When closed, the devices resemble notebooks or journals, but constructed with a sleek and sturdy-looking metallic finish. When opened, the devices can be used in the form factor of a traditional laptop, with the lower screen acting as a software keyboard, or held sideways like a book. They can be opened further at 180 degrees to allow the two screens to work as one for a widescreen viewing experience. If the devices are opened further, they can sit on a table, with one screen allowing for a viewing experience from a distance. Finally, if the devices are folded all the way, they can be held in the hand like a traditional tablet or smartphone, with displays present on both sides.

Microsoft intends for these devices to enable a level of creativity and productivity not possible on other devices by allowing them to assume what they call different “postures.” As the devices can be unfolded and positioned in a variety of ways, each of these postures also enables different software opportunities, as the operating systems of the devices are able to detect how they are being held and offer options to the user accordingly. For instance, the Surface Neo can be used with a magnetically-attached keyboard peripheral, which can be placed on top of half of the lower screen, allowing the remainder of the display to be used as a trackpad. Additionally, both devices are compatible with styluses, allowing for precision input for a variety of applications, but perhaps most notably for digital artists.

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During the keynote in which these devices were announced, representatives from Microsoft envision the current decade as being one in which devices are used for consuming content, and see the following decade as being one characterized by using technology to create things, hoping to lead the industry in that direction. By announcing these devices so far ahead of their release dates, Microsoft intends not only to give developers time to work on software applications that take advantage of their unique form factor, but also to give consumers an opportunity to invest in the Microsoft digital ecosystem in advance of the release of these groundbreaking products. 

Perhaps the most surprising feature of Microsoft’s announcement is the fact that the Surface Duo runs the Android operating system, leveraging software from Google, a direct competitor to the software giant. After the failure of Microsoft’s Windows Mobile operating system, which failed to gain traction in large part because of the absence of support from third-party developers, Microsoft has seemingly given up on creating mobile operating systems. However, the company’s decision to go with Android, currently the most popular mobile operating system around the world, is a clear advantage to consumers, who will have access to a wide range of already-existing apps. The extent to which third-party developers take advantage of the unique form factor of the Neo and Duo, however, remains to be seen, and this factor likely will predict the long-term success of the products overall.