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Luggage and Gadget Innovations Available Fall 2012

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Improved Computer Bag Features

There’s certainly no shortages of new computer bags, but one new model from Skooba Design sets the bar with its latest array of features. The company was the first to come out with a TSA-friendly bag that allows you to leave your computer in your briefcase. Unlike most bags, the foldaway portion holding the computer is hinged at the top of the bag, so you can just grab the bag’s handle after going through the x-ray and zip it together later. There’s also a clear window making it easier for the TSA agent to see your computer.

This newest version, constructed of ballistic nylon, is lightweight (55 ounces), measures 16″L x 12″H x 7″D and holds nearly any size laptop well, protecting it with cushioning all around. An additional section with a removable divider holds papers and documents.

There are 20 pockets, with about half of them padded to protect your electronics. A new shoulder strap has been engineered to reduce shocks by using a built-in shock absorber. The company’s products have found success with technology people who lug their gadgets with them where ever they go. The company’s owner, Michael Hess, is passionate about the products he designs and markets and pays attention to every little detail.

The Checkthrough Security Brief costs $170 at skoobadesign.com

Improved Connectivity

Novatel has introduced a new MiFi device that’s much more roadworthy than previous models for the business traveler. It’s the MiFi4620L 4G LTE. (Verizon calls it the Jetpack 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot MiFi 4620L.)

It uses Verizon’s 4G LTE network. with download speeds of 5-12 Mbps and upload speeds of 2-5Mbps. as well as their 3G network. Like other MiFi devices it uses Wi-Fi to connect to your devices (PCs, tablets, eReaders, etc.) and it’s built-in cellular radio to connect to the Internet. It also connects to GSM networks in over 200 countries, and has built-in GPS capabilities. (It’s much cheaper to rent a MiFi from XcomGlobal.com with country specific data cards) than use Verizon International data rates).

This new device is much improved from their previous models. It comes with a double capacity battery that I found worked for 4 to 5 hours, twice the earlier model. In addition, it has a small black and white display that’s a huge improvement over previous models, whose interfaces used colored lights. The display lets you know when you’ve connected, identifies the speed, data usage and number of devices connected. There’s no software to install on your computer and it works equally well with iPads.

In my tests I obtained speeds closer to the upper ends of rated speeds, essentially the same as I get from my Time Warner Cable account using their highest speed residential service. It costs $50 with a 2-year plan. Data usage is tied to Verizon’s Share Everything Plan, for which you pay $20 per month for the device plus use your monthly data allotment.

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By Phil Baker for PeterGreenberg.com. Phil Baker has more than three decades of experience in consumer and computer technology product development and program management. Check out his blog at www.philipgbaker.com.

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