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Nifty Car Toys and Other Musts for Business Travel

You may not always have the luxury of traveling by air for your business travel.

Indeed, most trips require some quality time in the car, either when visiting remote branch offices, if several clients are clustered nearby or when employees in the field need supervision.

If you want to be an intrepid business road warrior, here's a rundown of some of the indispensable tools for your trip out on the highway.

Power Trip

Even if your laptop isn't a power hog, if you're using your car or SUV for field work, you're going to need a 12V DC to 110V AC converter. At some point you'll need to recharge, and you may be a long way from an outlet.

Most plug into your cigarette-lighter outlet, and some newer cars even have 12V DC outlets for just such a device.

Radio Shack (RSH) has a couple of models that do the trick. The DC-to-AC Mobile Power Inverter that generates 60 watts costs $30, and $40 can get you a 12V DC-to-110V AC Car Power Inverter that puts out up to 140 watts.

Check the rated power consumption of your laptop and get a converter that supplies all the power you'll need. And be sure to only use it while the engine is running, otherwise you could be stuck in the boondocks with a dead car battery.

But an even easier route is to find out if your laptop manufacturer makes or recommends a car adapter. Compaq, Dell (DELL), Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), Sony (SNE), IBM (IBM), Toshiba, Acer and others all make auto-power adapters for their portable, laptop or notebook computers. And getting an original branded converter will help ensure that you get the right voltage and wattage for your unit. has a very large inventory of original-part car adapters, and at prices about one-third less than the original brands.

Want more? Check out TV video. Russell Vines discusses his tips.

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