Shrinking your mobile gear


As iPod/iPhone accessory guy, I see many, many pitches for stands that hold your iPod touch or iPhone while watching video. But most of these products take up more space in my bag than they should. For my trips on planes and trains, I bring along this tiny, lightweight stand. I just place the stand on a desk, table, or airline-seat tray and place my iPhone or iPod touch in either slot; one side offers a viewing angle of around 45 degrees, the other around 60 degrees. The one I carry originally came with a case from ; several other vendors include similar stands with their cases, and the original iPod touch even included one (although that one doesn't work with the iPhone). Unfortunately, I don't know of a vendor that sells one of these stands separately; if you know of one, please post the info in the comments, below.

OK, so this one isn't , but given the context of my personal needs, it's small enough. For ergonomic reasons, I'm not a fan of trackpads for extended use, so I carry a mouse in my laptop bag. But the rub is that ergonomically, a tiny mouse isn't much better than a trackpad--in some cases, it's actually worse. So the mouse has to be large enough to use comfortably. My favorite portable mouse--the one that offers me the best tradeoff between size, comfort, and features--is . You can , but suffice it to say that it's comfortable and functional enough to use for extended periods while weighing just over 3 ounces.

Finally, a very cool, though not inexpensive, product I've been testing is the j($199). At just 5.6 inches wide, 2.2 inches high, and 1.4 inches thick, it's not smallest stereo speaker system I've tested, but it's certainly tiny. (The photo here shows it next to a camera-lens cover to give you some perspective.) More important, I haven't seen--or heard--a portable speaker that offers better volume and audio quality per cubic inch. The foxL provides 4 Watts of power per channel, left and right 1-inch drivers, and a proprietary lithium-ion battery that acts as a radiator to provide surprising lower-frequency response. There's even a true subwoofer output for when you get home. Of course, a speaker this size can't compete with a much-larger system; if you push it too hard, you will hear some distortion; and as with any speakers, the foxL adds some weight (around 9 ounces) to your bag. But you'll be hard pressed to find better audio per ounce. (A $249 version, the foxLmb, includes Bluetooth and a microphone for wireless audio streaming and speakerphone functionality.)

Of course, not everyone needs all these gadgets, and even I don't carry all of them all the time. But after years carrying too-heavy laptop bags and backpacks, I've become a sucker for anything tiny and functional. And it's not just out of gear lust; to paraphrase a famous saying, an ounce here, an ounce there, and pretty soon you're talking real weight.

Got any other suggestions for weight-saving gear? Let us know in the comments, below.