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Your On-The-Road Office

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author photo by Autotrader October 2007

Cars are a means of transportation and a source of enjoyment, but they can also be the workplace for those whose jobs involve frequent travel. To them, a car needs to be an office on wheels.

There are now many devices that allow us to be more productive in our cars than ever before. However, as we add more of these 'gadgets' to our vehicles increase, common sense tells us that the chances of distraction rise, too. Don't put lives at risk! Wait before you're stopped and pulled over in a safe place before using any of these items.

Here are our top five must-haves for those people to help make their tasks easier, and perhaps safer:

Cell phone with data capability and a hands-free adapter. If you have a high-end phone, most major cell phone service providers now offer data capability to some extent. This means that you can establish a dial-up Internet connection from your laptop through your cell phone. With current technology, the connection is very slow-not fast enough for Web browsing but fast enough for reading text e-mail or sending a fax. When you're on the road, this can save you a lot of time spent searching for a landline. A bewildering array of hands-free products is available. Some involve an ear bud, while some have a speaker and a clip-on microphone, and others run through your car's audio system. With most, you still have to look down and dial the number on your phone's keypad. Though we don't recommend having a cell phone conversation while driving, if you do make them with regularity it might be a good idea to opt for a hard-installed, voice-activated solution like those from Cellport.

Digital memo recorder. Digital voice recorders come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are a must to keep in the car for when important thoughts come to mind, or for capturing reminders or quotes before you forget. Some wand-shaped digital recorders are light and small enough to clip to your visor like a pen. It's a lot easier than reaching for the pen and paper and trying to find a writing surface. Look for one at an electronics retailer or your favorite gadget store.

Compact power inverter. If you need a different DC cigarette lighter plug adapter for your electronics items, you might want to look into getting a compact power inverter and simply running your equipment from AC power. The new inverters aren't cumbersome like the RV-oriented units that you'd use to run a microwave or toaster (and probably overload your car's electrical system), but rather they are stable and protected for delicate electronics and up to the task of powering a laptop, PDA, or media equipment on the go. At around $50, that beats the cost of buying several DC adapters and it eliminates some of those tangled wires.

Visor organizer. Visor storage pouches are inexpensive and a great way to store multiple parking passes, business receipts, and frequent customer cards-anything that you might need to access or file away quickly.

Portable workstation. For those of you who've adopted the idea of working from the road with a cell phone, but still haven't graduated to the world of PDAs and paperless notes, manage the clutter with a passenger-seat organizer. The shoulder belt straps the unit in place, and there's space for a briefcase or laptop, a cell phone, note pad, and standard hanging file folders. The Sharper Image, AJ Prindle & Co., and Herrington all sell these for $160 to $180, and also try major office supply stores for less expensive versions.

©2007 by The Car Connection™ All Rights Reserved - The Car Connection is a Trademark of DA Acquisition
This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Your On-The-Road Office - Autotrader