Shrinking your mobile gear


Another option, though one that's a bit larger, is Moshi's , which combines a two-port USB hub with a universal memory-card reader.

: Any road warrior worth his or her salt knows you should always have a USB thumb/flash drive handy in case you need to quickly transfer files from one computer to another. The problem, for me, at least, is that I seem to need such a drive only when I don't happen to have my laptop bag with me. I've recently been testing LaCie's , and it's turned out to be far more useful--and far less gimmicky--than I expected. The iamaKey is simply a USB 2.0 flash drive--$27 for 4GB of storage, or $37 for 8GB--that looks like a key. In fact, the metal enclosure isn't much bigger than my house key, so it sits on my keychain without the bulk of most "keychain" flash drives--I don't even notice it's there and I always have it with me. While more expensive than plastic thumb drives, LaCie claims the gold USB connector is scratch- and water-resistant, and the metal enclosure provides protective edges that help the iamaKey handle the abuse it's sure to take on your keyring. After a couple months sharing a keyring with the other metal objects you can see in the photo above, the iamaKey is still working perfectly.

A flashlight is an invaluable tool when gear is located in dark places--behind desks, in closets, and inside entertainment centers--or when I need a better look inside, say, a computer case. But even a "penlight" is weight and bulk I don't need. Streamlight's $10 is one of my favorite "ooh, cool" gizmos: It's a aluminum-enclosure flashlight, just over an inch long and a quarter-inch thick, that weighs next to nothing. The Nanolight clips to my keyring and offers a surprisingly bright LED light--brighter than the two-AA MagLite now relegated to the "junk drawer" in my toolbox. Of course, a bright flashlight can come in handy in many non-tech situations, as well, which is an added bonus.

: If you value your laptop's data, you know to back it up, even while on the go. One way to save weight is to back up to an online service such as or . But I prefer the speed and extra capacity of a physical hard drive--specifically, a drive, which, though currently limited to 120GB capacity, is roughly half the size of a standard (2.5-inch) portable drive. LaCie has one of my favorite solutions here, as well: the , a bus-powered drive that's only 3.2 by 2.5 by 0.7 inches in size and weighs only 4.4 ounces. You could get more capacity for your $150 with a 2.5-inch drive, but I like that the Little Disk fits places a 2.5-inch drive can't and weighs less than my mobile phone. (Last year, I tested--and ended up purchasing--the 60GB version, shown here, which now occupies a permanent space in my travel bag.)

I like to be able to take on-the-go voice recordings--of presentations or interviews for work, of the kids on vacation, or of voice notes to myself--and I often use my iPod to do it. SwitchEasy's is easily the most portable iPod microphone out there. It works with the latest iPod nano, classic, and touch models, protruding only about a half an inch from the iPod's headphone jack, and because of the ThumbTacks's headphone-plug size, you can even use it if your iPod is in a protective case. Although the audio quality isn't quite as good as that of the or more-expensive stereo microphones, it's more than adequate for voice recording. And the ThumbTacks isn't just the smallest iPod microphone on the market; it's also the least-expensive I've seen at just $13.