Kelly's Top Mobile Accessory Picks for 2014

2014 was the year I leveled up in mobile gear. I finally solved a few of the remaining aggravations in my mobile setup, and having done so I can share them with you. Here goes:

First off, I finally got the conversion finished to retractable Lightning cables. Since I'd had over a decade to accumulate 30-pin cables for iPods and iPhones and iPads, finding one of those around was always a piece of cake. Apple finally started issuing those "Made for iPhone" Lightning certifications in earnest, and I was able to track down both short (four inch) and retractable cables (I prefer Scosche cables, this one is US$15.22 at Amazon). Now that more companies produce them and do so in significant numbers, I was able to finally have one dedicated to each place I needed it: the car, the kitchen, my bag…at last they're all taken care of.

Behold the retractable Lightning cable! Also available with a flip-back end that has MicroUSB underneath for additional charging opportunities.

Related to this is the 30-pin adapter from Apple. Yes it's another $29 piece of white plastic from Apple (or $28 from Amazon) , but that one can update all those other cables, so it comes in handy on a pretty regular basis. Since I really do have loads of 30-pin cables it's a lot easier to get the adapter and phase in replacements for those less important "just in case" cables.

Next up is an impulse purchase based on a recommendation from Andy Ihnatko: the iWerkz Bluetooth Keyboard. This is a solid little bluetooth keyboard that folds in half. It works with virtually any mobile device (I've used it with my iPhone, iPad, and Nexus 7) and while not a full size keyboard, I'm still able to type on miniature physical keys much more quickly than on the iPad screen, and in a conference or other note taking situation it's a big help not to have to keep checking for errors in my notes. Plus for $30 it is one of the less expensive keyboards, and you can leave it home when you don't need it because it isn't attached to your device.

iWerkz Folding Keyboard, also available in other colors. And that case doubles as a device stand! 

This year I also gave in to a new permanent fixture in my purse: A battery pack. I finally found a couple of reliable ones, so now I carry a Jackery Mini ($19.95 at Amazon) as my everyday and when I am pretty sure I'll need extra juice, I grab my larger Powerocks power bank. Both are solid, and thanks to that new short cable, they're a piece of cake to use. I don't prefer the built-in cable chargers mostly because I never know what will need charged. With just a USB port, I can plug in the right cable for whatever is getting low, and that wee Lightning cable takes up virtually no extra space. I usually have a (teeny) micro USB cable in my purse too, so if my Kindle or headset or Nexus needs power I have everything covered.

Jackery Mini in orange. Easy to use, hard to lose.

This year I have had many opportunities to test out the new mobile kit, and so far in every situation from long days at a conference to longer days at Disneyland, I haven't had any issues with coming up short on anything. In fact, it seems like I finally got things dialed in properly. Of course I'm always on the lookout for improvements, so if you have a killer accessory I haven't mentioned, please let me know so I can road test it in 2015!