By Oon Yeoh
As someone who telecommutes, having the right gadgets and devices to do work on the go is something crucial to me. Most of the time, I’ll go to a Starbucks or some café which has comfortable tables and chairs, electrical power point outlets and free Wi Fi. That gives me much of what I need to get some serious work done.
But what about those times when I actually have to work inside my car? Of course I’m not referring to doing work while driving but sometimes there are urgent matters to attend to and there’s no café nearby. In such cases, I’ll just go to a parking lot and get to work right in my car itself.
It’s not easy working from your car but here are three absolutely crucial devices that will make working from your car both efficient and productive.
Whether it’s your laptop or your mobile phone, battery life is often not enough especially when you’re doing lots of things on your devices, with several apps opened and the Wi Fi on. To do serious work for any considerable length of time, you will need to charge your devices.
A power bank would do well for your mobile phone but few power banks will charge a laptop. For that, you’ll need a car power inverter device (pic – photo credit: lazada.com.my).
This example here, which is available locally, can put out 150 watts of power (enough for most laptops). There are different models available. Choose one that also comes with at least one USB port so you can charge your phone and your laptop at the same time.
Being able to get online is crucial to today’s white-collar work. Whether it’s to check e-mails or to browse for something online; whether it’s to download files or to sync some documents; whether it’s to make a Skype call or to chat with someone, you will need Internet access.
For that, get a Wi Fi on the go device and service. All the major telcos as well as WiMax providers in town offer a kind of mobile Wi Fi that you can subscribe to on a monthly basis.
Before subscribing to any plan, check to make sure that if you were to accidentally exceed your data limit per month that you are not charged for extra usage. Some providers (especially the telcos) have plans where you will continue to get charged, and at an exorbitant rate at that. Some providers though, allow you to keep using the Internet with no extra charge although at a very slow speed. If being online is crucial to your work, it probably makes sense to have a back-up mobile Wi Fi service (from a different provider).
A car’s driver’s seat is a very cramped place. The steering wheel is protruding out and there’s just not a lot of space for you to work. Even if you pull your seat as far back as it can go, there actually isn’t a lot of space for you to place your laptop on your lap.
What you’ll need is a steering wheel desk. These are tray-like devices that you attach to your steering wheel to give you some workspace to lay down your laptop or to spread out your paperwork and do some writing.
Some of these devices attach to the top of the steering wheel. Others, like this example, attach to the bottom of the steering wheel. Unfortunately I don’t think you can get any of these devices locally. I had to get a friend from the US order it and ship it to me here. You could probably try eBay and see if some sellers are willing to send such a device all the way to Malaysia.
The above three devices that I described are by no means the only tech gadgets that you can use to make yourself a more productive road warrior but they are the crucial ones that you’ll need to work from out of your car.
Oon Yeoh is a new media consultant.