Protecting your mobile artillery

As webworkers, our prized possessions are often worth a pretty penny, and for the most part, we rely on them to do business. Blackberry’s, Macbooks, iPods, wireless mice, the list goes on. When we travel for brainstorm sessions, cafe trips and meetings we stuff all of these in our gear bags and trample off to our destinations. Maybe they get bumped on the way, fall off a table, corner bumped into a brick wall, dropped on a sidewalk, or rubbed up against something in our bag the wrong way. These tend to leave us with a device that is somewhat, weathered looking. Let’s look at a few different ways that we can protect gear without adding a metal shell around them.

What’s the first thing that tends to get scratched up on mobile devices? The screen. It’s always getting scratched from being in our pockets, sliding across tables, or just plain too much usage. I recently came across a product called Screenguardz for handhelds, and tried it out on my Blackberry before the screen got ugly looking. This strong, clear plastic is custom fitted based on your model of Blackberry, Nokia, or Palm and comes in a package of 15, so you won’t have to worry about screen scratches for a while. Don’t worry about the bubbles after you stick it on, they seem to all disappear after 24hrs or so, leaving you with a nice, clean bright screen.

So what about our beloved Mp3 players that we truck around? You could grab some screen protectors for handhelds and cut them down to size, or get a nice colorful iPod sock, or if you’re like me and find yourself dropping your iPod at least once a week on everything from concrete, carpet, and cafe floors (hey, this might be a reason why its not working right now!), you might want to grab an accessory case that covers your whole iPod and cushions it against falls.

I found that a leather case that flipped up in the front and covers almost every square inch of my player worked well for me. It looks great, access to the main connection wasn’t messed with making for easy connection without taking the cover off, the headphone jack area was open and ready to use, and boy does it protect against falls. I wouldn’t doubt that my iPod would have been majorly dented without it.

Laptops, a webworkers prized possession. This is the core of your artillery. Your communication portal to the WWW and device that makes it possible to work from anywhere on the beach, restaurant, park or cafe. Break this sucker, and you will be confined to your home! Look our for a simple sleek laptop sleeve as some extra protection when traveling and not using it. There are some neoprene ones on the market that are actually waterproof as well. Keyboard covers might be a good idea if you find yourself around liquids often. There is nothing like spilling a glass of water or coffee on a keyboard, these covers will save you from a nice 48hr drying out period, and possibly a few keys that won’t work.

If you travel with a wireless mouse I think the only thing you can do is hope that you don’t accidentally elbow it off of a table. Besides that, you’re on your own with this one. There really isn’t any protector on the market that doesn’t restrict the mouse’s movement. When traveling, just make sure that it’s packed in a protected area and you should be safe.

I hope this gave you some extra little thoughts on protecting your devices. But now for the good stuff.. Who wants to share some mobile artillery horror stories? You all know about my butter fingers constantly dropping my iPod, up to this point where it’s freezing, chugging, and causing a hardware malfunction when I plug it in to sync. Oh well, at least I have the latest onPod session synced up to listen to.

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