By Todd Bernhard on Tue, 06/24/2014
I'm on an Amtrak train heading from Rochester, NY, to New York City to attend CE Week. CE Week is like a mini CES, with hundreds of vendors instead of thousands; but it's a nice way to see the latest technology, in one location, in a short time. I will be writing about many of the new products this week and next, but for now, I thought I'd write about some of the gear that makes it practical to work on the train.
First, Amtrak offers Wi-Fi on select routes along with the power outlets at each seat. Sure, I wouldn't recommend streaming Netflix on the train's cellular-based Internet connection, but it's fine for uploading blog postings and checking email.
Speaking of power, I brought along TYLT's Energi Backpack. This thing is amazing. Forget for a second that it has a huge battery with three USB ports, the TYLT backpack has so many compartments, I find a new one every time I use it! Several of the compartments are crush proof too. Most are lined with a velour-like microfiber which can protect and even clean your tablet as you slip it in and out. I was able to fit everything I need for three days in New York City in one backpack. And the fact that it charges my iPad, iPhone, and Bluetooth keyboard is a nice plus!
The Bluetooth keyboard in question is the iPad Flip Case from uuber (formerly IGEAR.) I've used their cases before and have been impressed, so I was very interested in this case/keyboard combination, which is available for numerous iPads including the mini versions. My iPad Air snapped right in, and feels quite secure. The case works like a clamshell, so it looks like I'm using an ultralight touchscreen laptop! There's a twist, literally, as the case mimics the "Yoga" feature from Thinkpad and other convertibles. You can spin the display around and use the case as a display stand for movies, or close it with the screen facing out, and use it as a clipboard-style case. they even include a hidden stylus that tucks away under the keyboard with the iPad Air model. The keys are nice chiclet style, although some of the number and function keys are a bit smaller than I'd prefer. There's a backlighting option (adjustable via Fn6 on the iPad Air model) that helps locate the right keys, as touch typing is possible but tricky when special characters are needed. For this trip, it's a perfect companion. And I'm using it to write this article, and more from my cozy mobile office on Amtrak.