When it comes to portable systems, thin and light is the modern day mantra, and they don't come much thinner or lighter than the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro. Not only are they thin and light, they pack enough of a punch to cope with demanding applications that once would have required a desktop computer.
But being thin and light brings with it compromises, but by adding a few essential accessories into the mix, you can create a mobile working platform that is second to none.
Here's my list of must-have accessories for this popular mobile notebook.
The G-Form Extreme Sleeve is constructed from RPT – Reactive Protection Technology, a composite blend of PORON XRD material and proprietary G-Form materials and technology – and is designed specifically for laptop users on the go.
The soft, flexible, lightweight, water-resistant Extreme Sleeve laptop case can easily be placed into another bag, backpack, or suitcase and protect your laptop from impact. With the G-Form Extreme Sleeve you can be confident that your laptop is protected everywhere you go.
I love my gadgets, but more gadgets means more chargers, which in turn means having to have more wall outlets.
The Twelve South PlugBug solves this problem by combining the MacBook Pro charger with a 2.1A USB charger. The output of the USB charger is powerful enough to charge an iPad, which means having to carry one less wall wart.
In an effort to make the MacBook Air and Pro as thin as possible, Apple has done away with the gigabit Ethernet port. So this isn't something that I use all that often—Wi-Fi has all but replaced it—but there are times when I simply have to resort to a wired connection.
This is where Apple's Thunderbolt to gigabit Ethernet adapter comes in handy. I can throw it into a notebook bag and it's there waiting for me when I need it.
Since I take a lot of photographs, and I back up to a NAS box, I need a fast connection, and this dongle gives me just that.
For a few years now I've been a fan of Western Digital My Passport drives. They're small, fast, and reliable. Given my happy past experiences with these external drives, I was excited when Western Digital sent me a pair of 2TB My Passport Pro.
Unlike the My Passport drives which house a single drive, the My Passport Pro houses two drives. This makes them thicker, but the two drives have benefits. Using the supplied software you can configure these drives as RAID 0 or RAID 1 (depending on whether you want speed or data duplication) or you can set them to appear as separate drives.
The My Passport Pro comes equipped with Thunderbolt connectivity, and the cable is attached, which is great because it means I don't have to buy one, and won't lose the one supplied! This drive delivers transfer rates as high as 233 MB/s, so it's no slouch. The drive also gets power from the Thunderbolt connector so there's no separate AC adaptor to carry (or lose).
As a MacBook Pro owner, I find Apple's Time Capsule to be an invaluable tool. In fact, there are two reasons I bought an Apple Time Capsule. First, I wanted an 802.11ac Wi-Fi access point to play with, and secondly, it offers me a no-fuss way to backup (and if something goes wrong, restore) my data.
A Time Capsule isn't cheap, but it does make backing up Macs a breeze, and because of this it is well worth the money.
Price: $299 for 2TB, $399 for 3TB.
In the pursuit of offering a device that is as thin as possible, Apple kicked the optical drive to the curb along with the Ethernet port.
Being without a CD or DVD drive on the MacBook Pro wasn't a deal-breaker for me, but I still use disks often enough that having a drive I can take with me is handy, hence the reason I grabbed Apple's USB Superdrive. Being no bigger than a CD case means that it is ultra-portable, and only needing a single USB cable for both data transfer and power means I don't end up with a huge kludge of wiring.
While I initially made use a G-Form sleeve to protect my MacBook Pro, it had two shortcomings. First, I couldn't pack any accessories in with the notebook, and secondly, while it offered a great deal or protection, I didn't feel that it offered enough, especially when I was taking my MacBook Pro with me on the road. Yes, it was fine for short trips to coffee shops and on-site, but anything more than that was a worry.
I've now augmented the G-Form sleeve with an SKB iSeries 1813-5 hard waterproof laptop case. This Mil-Spec, TSA-approved lockable case can take a notebook up to 17-inches, and has space in the lid and underneath the notebook for stuff. I have ripped out the leather divider supplied to give me more space, as we as added more foam to the underneath to life the notebook platform up to give me more space since the MacBook Pro is so thin, and these modifications allow me to carry a whole host of accessories, from external hard drives to power supplies.
Great case, highly recommended.
A smaller, cheaper, more stylish storage option.
A portable drive that you can slip into your pocket, the Western Digital My Passport Ultra also features 256-bit hardware encryption and integrated local and a cloud backup solution that allows you to make use of your Dropbox account for create a separate backup.
This offers up to 2TB of storage is a small, robust and stylish package.
Price: 1TB for around $80/2TB for $120.