One of the greatest “features” of our time is mobility. Yes, in the business world, it means having connectivity to resources, colleagues and customers regardless of where you are. Even during airline or train travel, with Wi-Fi now available on most flights and Amtrak trains, we’re able to keep up with our business activities without skipping a beat (almost).
But, as I get ready to head to this year’s CES, I thought back to the multitudes of cases and stands on display last year and can only imagine the rainbows of colors and patterns that will be on display this year. After all, with Samsung, Apple and others constantly flooding the market with new devices, the floodgates are open – and consumers have proven their willingness to buy new peripherals for each new device.
Truthfully, the need to constantly update peripherals is perhaps the one element of our gadget-crazed world that has bothered me. There aren’t very many truly useful universal peripherals – most are designed for a particular device or brand. It’s one reason I prefer basically any mobile device with a Micro USB port over Apple. Even many newer tablets are incorporating microUSB ports in lieu of their previous proprietary 30-pin or other ports, making it easier to charge or sync devices. Certainly, Bluetooth technology is another universal technology that has made audio communication much more convenient (although, it, too, created a whole new category of add-ons at CES, with more wireless speakers than one could count on display).
I have found one truly universal peripheral that I might not label as technology itself, but it certainly makes the use of many items much more convenient. With email and other work taking place on a laptop or tablet, I’ve found being restricted to a small seat at 35,000 feet presents an equally good opportunity to catch up on a few TV shows of movies I’ve missed (it’s amazing how many reasonably sized devices can fit onto a tray table – especially if you’re fortunate enough to have an empty seat next to you).
That said, it’s difficult to work while holding another device, and the “built-in” stands on most tablet cases (save the Microsoft Surface) are hardly suitable for any motion, as you’ll spend more time picking them up than watching.
But, what works ideally, regardless of what your tablet (or phone or phablet) or choice is, is a neat little stand called iProp. At first glance, it’s nothing overly fancy, a small bean bag with a plastic stand that attaches with common snaps. But, what I found is that through turbulence, and even during landing on my lap, the iProp held my tablet in position so I could watch without interruption or continue working on other tasks as needed.
The iProp does take up a little more space in your carry-on bag, but with a convenient handle, it’s just as easy to carry along on its own.
In addition, the same features that make it useful during transit prove equally beneficial in hotel rooms or even at home – no more propping your tablet against a stack of books, alarm clock, or laptop bag to watch. In fact, I’ve also used it to hold a tablet with a navigation app running while driving – it worked like a charm.
The zippered compartment that holds removable bean bag so the base can be washed also allows for a charging cable to be stored easily. I’m not sure that was an intended use, but it works nicely so you don’t have to dig through your luggage when your battery runs low.
And finally, by snapping off the plastic stand, I’ve found the iProp makes for a comfortable pillow on overnight flights.
All in all, while it’s not technology in the sense that it has no wires, screens, or buttons, the iProp has proven a convenient companion to any device I chose to use.
Edited by Cassandra Tucker