Gadgets on the Go

Do you practically live in your car? Then, make yourself--and your ride-along clients--more comfortable with mobile goodies like these.

May 1, 2000

Table for one

Attach the Auto Desk to your steering wheel and unfold for a flat, sturdy place to set your laptop, write, or eat lunch. The desk, made of durable, heavy-gauge plastic, features a coffee cup groove and a pencil tray. $39.95. Mobile Office Outfitter; 800/426-3453; www.mobilegear.com.

For serious road warriors

Put an entire office in the back of your van. The PV Desk System includes a modular desktop, a roll-out shelf for a printer or fax, and a laptop docking station. Electrical power is supplied by a 1,000-watt inverter and an optional rapid
charger. $5,995. PV Technologies; 888/664-5800; www.gooffice.com.

To eat and run

The Select Xcort portable food chiller and warmer, which plugs into your car’s cigarette lighter, can keep drinks cool, chill foods to below freezing, or keep warm foods warm. Includes a 5-foot cord and strap to secure it in the passenger seat. $99.95. Comfort House; 800/359-7701; http://comfort.viamall.com/foodcoolplug.html.

Freshen up

Remove dust and odors from your car with the Auto Ionizer. Plug it into your cigarette lighter, and it generates billions of negative ions that act as magnets to draw microscopic pollutants out of the air. $49.95. GiantSavings.com; 877/552-5425; www.giantsavings.com/dnbenteprisesinc/autoionizer1.html.

Two words: back up

Mobile practitioners say there are few downsides to all the technological wizardry. But on the rare occasion that technology fails, you’re out of business. Their mantra: Back up your data every day.

Judy Weichold of Pacific Union Residential Brokerage in Walnut Creek, Calif., recently experienced a technology meltdown and lost everything on her laptop, but what could have been a crisis was just a major inconvenience, thanks to her data backup system.

Over the years, Brian Waskiewicz of RE/MAX Classic Realty in Canton, Mich., has taught himself how to troubleshoot, reinstall his laptop’s operating system, and even reformat the hard drive and start from scratch. If you’re not that technosavvy, he recommends buying a computer from a manufacturer with great tech-support people who can talk you through a crisis. “And buy an extended warranty,” he says. “You’re going to drop your laptop and spill things on it, and a year of protection just won’t cut it.”

Elyse Umlauf-Garneau is a Chicago-based freelance writer and former senior editor with REALTOR® Magazine.

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