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Make Your Smartphone Even Smarter With Accessories

If you want to make your smartphone smarter, I have one word for you --- accessorize!

The smartphone is the one indispensable device for the contemporary business traveler and as more of us replace our old cell phones with an iPhone, Blackberry, Android phone, Windows 7 unit or Palm Pre, this has become the fastest growing segment of the phone market. The competition is fierce but no matter which one you choose you’ll find a stunning array of accessories that will enhance the phone’s utility and enjoyment.

I’ll mention a just a few here, not necessarily the best or least expensive, but ones that I’ve used. But you have many more to choose from because there are literally scores of devices in every category and price range.

In my book the essential complements for a smartphone include a rugged case, multi-purpose charger, and a Bluetooth hands-free headset. But there are scores of others. The reason they’re called “smart phones” is because these handheld devices can do so much more than simply make calls. A lot of accessories facilitate these other uses making them easier and safer to use.

There’s certainly no shortage of docking stations for smartphones including simple charging units to ones that include speakers for the music stored on the phone and double as a clock radio. There are even some that serve as projectors like the “Neo” from Optoma.

There’s no more important element of a phone than an adequately charged battery. In the past few years we’ve seen a growth in chargers that will juice-up many different phones. Companies including Case Logic, Scosche and many others have multi-unit chargers. The Power Mat – on which you simply lay up to half dozen units to charge and the Callpod “Fueltank,” which includes a variety of connectors for phones. One of my favorite recent trends in chargers is the combination AC/USB chargers that let you charge from a notebook computer’s USB slot. I also carry an inexpensive 12-volt/USB plug for the times when you’ve forgotten the car charger.

If you’re a traveler who spends lots of time in a rental car a hands-free device is a must. Many states now require hands free if you are going to drive and use a mobile device. There are many choices for both headsets and speakers. Jabra and Plantronics make some interesting unobtrusive models including the Jabra Stone which is a tiny earpiece/microphone that resembles a hearing aid with no projected mike. Blue Ant and others make excellent speakers with voice recognition and activation that mount on the sun visor in the vehicle. There’s a variety of dash mounts now available too to make using the GPS function of your smartphone easier.

If your phone doubles as your MP3 player you’ll want good headphones or earbuds and perhaps a portable speaker to carry along to listen to your own music in a hotel room. Here again there’s an abundance of lightweight speakers that emit remarkably good sound and are easier to carry with you. For the traveler with a whimsical streak the “Headphonies” from Mobi are a series of tiny designer micro speakers.

Designer covers come in styles for every taste and screen protectors and screen cleaners remove smudges. There are even magnifying covers to make numbers and text messages easier to read.

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