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Mobile Office - Best Laptop Travel Set Up With External USB Monitor, Mouse and Keyboard

By Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief
Friday April 17, 2015

I can't stare at a laptop all day in a coffee shop or my back seizes. And even if I could, staring down at a laptop and using a track pad is not that productive. So began a quest to find a mobile office that delivers the ergonomics of having a screen at eye height, and second monitor, mouse and keyboard. It's all light enough to fit in a backpack, costs less than $200 and doesn't require being plugged in until the laptop battery dies.


There are 6 key parts:
1) Laptop
2) Wireless Keyboard
3) Wireless Mouse
4) Internet
5) Monitor Stand
6) USB External Monitor
7) External Headset


1) Laptop
I am a big fan of the MacBook Pro. It's very light, (almost as light at the MacBook Air, it seems), and has tons of power, long battery etc. But it's super expensive and much less expensive laptops probably work for most folks. Chromebooks are now only $200!

2) Wireless Keyboard
Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard ($60) is light, doesn't require a power source or changing batteries, and matches the look of your Apple laptop, if you care. We recommend Curad Alcohol Wipes to keep the keyboard and your hands clean.

3) Wireless Mouse
With so many to choose from, we just look for the cheapest one with the best reviews.

4) Internet
If you don't have WiFi, you need to get a signal from your phone. Most cell phone companies let you share your cell signal for a fee.

5) Monitor Stand
For the cheap and resourceful, books and cardboard boxes work. However, I love the FURINNO Adjustable Vented Laptop Stand ($54). It just barely holds my laptop and my external USB monitor (see below) if I also use the box it came in, which I use to hold all the items on this page. The stand is not compact enough for a carry-on, but it's compact enough to take in your car or a medium-sized backpack. I cherish a consistent set up as opposed to hunting down cardboard boxes and books every time you set up your mobile office.


6) USB External Monitor
This was a game changer. Diminishing screen real estate is one of the big sacrifices of traveling. Having a second monitor is a huge improvement. The key variables are power and weight. Most external monitors are both heavy, large, and require being plugged into an outlet. Discovering the AOC 16 inch USB portable LED monitor solved those concerns. The AOC draws power from your computers USB port and draws so little power that you only lose 10-20% of your normal charge time.

7) External Headset
Now that most operating systems and browsers have such good speech recognition, I always have a headset for dictating e-mails, stories, and just about anything that is more than a few sentences long.

Keep in mind, if you plug all these things in at once, you might need a portable USB hub.

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Chris McNamara at Big Sur  2008
Chris McNamara
About the Author
Chris is the founder of OutdoorGearLab and serves as Editor-in-Chief. Climbing Magazine once computed that three percent of Chris McNamara’s life on earth has been spent on the face of El Capitan—an accomplishment that has left friends and family pondering Chris’ sanity. He’s climbed El Capitan over 70 times and holds nine big wall speed climbing records. In 1998 Chris did the first Girdle Traverse of El Capitan, an epic 75-pitch route that begs the question, “Why?” Outside Magazine has called Chris one of “the world’s finest aid climbers.” He’s the winner of the 1999 Bates Award from the American Alpine Club and founder of the American Safe Climbing Association, a nonprofit group that has replaced over 14,000 dangerous anchor bolts. Chris is also the founder and lead author of the rock climbing guidebooks publisher, SuperTopo. He is a graduate of UC Berkeley. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter or ChrisMcNamara.com. He also has two Lake Tahoe Vacation Rentals here and here.


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