A good accessory should complement or enhance the functionality of the main product. Whether it's a printer working with a computer, or an Apple Pencil with an iPad Pro, the two should work in lockstep to give you a better experience.
But accessories get expensive, some can run well into the three-digit range, and some are meant for only a niche audience. To make your day-to-day computing experience better, though, a few key, inexpensive accessories can make all the difference.
Whether you're trying to charge multiple devices at once, keep your stuff more secure, or clear up clutter, these 20 accessories can make that happen — all for $20 or less:
A lock port
If you've got tech you want to stay put, then protect it! Kensington lock ports are still available on a wide variety of laptops and are definitely a theft-deterrent.
Most Kensington locks are unlocked using a combo, but this one uses a key, so instead of having to remember a set of numbers, you'll have to remember to bring your key.
Kensington Desktop Computer and Peripherals Locking Kit, $14.99, available at Amazon
A USB hub with micro and regular SD card readersAmazon
A hub with a twist! USB hubs have become a fairly standard accessory, but Cateck ups the ante a little by including a micro and regular SD card reader alongside the three USB 3.0 ports.
What makes the inclusion of the card readers so nice is that this hub puts them at arm's-reach. Even though most laptops and desktops have built-in card readers, they're typically somewhat inconvenient. This is especially true if you've got a laptop in a stand hooked up to a display. This hub eliminates that problem.
A Bluetooth keyboardAmazon
I've used Anker's Bluetooth keyboards for over a year, and I can't recommend them highly enough. They are light, compact, and easy to set up and have pretty solid battery life.
Don't be put off by the inclusion of iOS-looking glyphs on some of the keys — specifically the home-button key in the upper-left corner. The keyboard works just fine with any desktop or laptop you pair it with. That said, if you're looking for a keyboard to pair with a tablet, then this is a good choice.
Anker Bluetooth Ultra-Slim Keyboard, $16.99, available at Amazon
A TV antennaAmazon
Reception will vary largely depending on where you live, so it would be in your best interest to check out TvFool and AntennaWeb to get a sense of what over-the-air channels are available in your area. If you like what you see and want to dip your toe into the TV-antenna space, then give the Mohu Leaf a try.
Mohu Leaf Metro TV Antenna, $14.99 available at Amazon
*Note: Currently only available through third party sellers*
A portable batteryAmazon
Thankfully, smartphone battery life has gotten better over the years, and Android and iOS now have built-in low-power modes. That said, it's still anxiety-producing to see your battery at 20% halfway through a transatlantic flight.
This external battery by Jackery has enough juice to charge your iPhone or Android phone multiple times before needing to be recharged itself. The inclusion of two USB ports for simultaneous charging is a nice touch.
Jackery Bar Premium 6000 mAh External Battery, $17.99, available at Amazon
A hard-shell laptop caseAmazon
If you're looking for a fairly no-frills way to protect any member of the MacBook family, then it's worth considering these hard-shell cases from Mosiso.
The two-part case will protect the top and bottom of your laptop from scratches, but it probably won't provide a tremendous amount of shock support if your device suffers a nasty fall. That said, some protection will always be better than no protection. For the form- and fashion-minded, this line of cases comes in a variety of colors and patterns, some of which are device-exclusive.
Mosiso MacBook Pro 13 Retina Case, $11.99, available at Amazon
A pocket-size Bluetooth speakerAmazon
Don't buy this mini speaker if you're looking for booming bass and audiophile sound — there are plenty of other products to recommend if that's what you're after.
Instead, this 1.7-inch cube will provide 12 hours' worth of listening time, connect with Bluetooth, NFC, or a standard 3.5mm audio cable, and fit into your pocket. Think of it more as a kitchen or podcast speaker and your expectations should be met.
Anker Ultra Portable Pocket Size Wireless Bluetooth Speaker, $19.99, available at Amazon
A multi-port USB wall chargerAmazon
If you've ever fought over who gets to use the phone charger, then this multi-port hub from Aukey will solve that problem forever.
Having the ability to charge everyone's devices before trips makes packing significantly less stressful. If you live with roommates or have a family, then sticking one of these in the kitchen will be a game-changer.
AUKEY 5-Port USB Charger, $19.99, available at Amazon
A car-phone mountAmazon
If you're looking for a way to safely use Google Maps while driving, then it's a good idea to invest in a way to mount your phone on the dashboard.
There are two types of products that accomplish this: mounts that clip onto your car's air vents, like this AUKEY mount, or those that adhere to your dashboard with a suction cup. I've used a suction-cup mount for a couple of years, but want to move over to the dash. Because of the heat of the summer months, I've had my phone mount fall while driving.
AUKEY's car mount is compact, supports most phones, and promises to hug the air vents tight enough not to get loose over bumpy roads.
AUKEY Car Phone Mount, $7.99, available at Amazon
Still have non-rechargeable devices running around the house? The most cost-effective way to keep them running is to buy rechargeable batteries.
In many cases, the actual batteries and charging cradle are sold separately, but this set from Panasonic bundles them together. The batteries can be fully recharged overnight and hold a majority of their charge for 10 years. They're also available in AAA size, which is the most common size of batteries for TV remotes.
- Panasonic Advanced Individual Cell Battery Charger Pack with 4AA Eneloop 2100 Cycle Rechargeable Batteries, $17.99, available at Amazon
- Panasonic Eneloop AAA 2100 Cycle Ni-MH Pre-Charged Rechargeable Batteries, Pack of 4, $9.99, available at Amazon
A laptop standAmazon
One of the most essential tools when hooking up your laptop to an external monitor is a good laptop stand.
This one from Amazon keeps your laptop propped up at an angle, so you can use it as a second screen even when using your monitor. This is the setup I have at work and it works very well. I'm definitely more productive than I would be otherwise.
AmazonBasics Laptop Stand, $19.99, available at Amazon
A flash driveAmazon
The cloud is getting more reliable, but using it to move large files around still requires a very fast internet connection, so it still pays to keep a flash drive handy. This drive from SanDisk should be perfect for most day-to-day tasks.
It's got 64 GB of storage — enough to hold thousands of pictures, songs, and documents, or hours of HD footage. It's also capable of transferring data at USB 3.0 speeds, so getting stuff onto and off of the drive will be snappier than using older flash drives.
SanDisk Ultra CZ48 64 GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive, $22.40, available at Amazon
An armband phone case
Now that good weather has made its way to many parts of the world, it's a great time to start jogging outside. But if you'd like to run while listening to music, then this armband case is a good bet.
What puts this phone armband case above the rest I've seen or used is the inclusion of a slot for your key. That's one less thing to worry about while trying to beat your longest distance or best time. It's also not device-specific and can be used with current iPhone models as well as last year's Samsung Galaxy phones.
- Tribe Water Resistant Sports Armband, $9.98, available at Amazon [for iPhone 7-sized phones]
- Tribe Water Resistant Sports Armband, $8.98, available at Amazon [for iPhone 7 Plus-sized phones]
A phone case
Like the MacBook case I recommended, this iPhone case is no-frills and comes with the same advantages and caveats.
While the pictured case is for the iPhone 6, JETech makes the same case for a whole host of Apple and Android devices. There are a lot of cases that are more "life-proof," but few that are as thin and light — the trade-off is up to you.
- JETech iPhone 6/6s Clear Case, $6.99, available at Amazon
- JETech iPhone 7 Clear Back Case, $7.99, available at Amazon
- JETech iPhone 7 Plus Clear Back Case, $5.99, available at Amazon
Lightning, USB-C, and Micro USB cables
It's never a bad idea to have extra charging cables around, especially if you've recently picked up a multi-port USB hub or external battery.
- Anker Lightning Cables (2-pack), $13.99, available at Amazon
- AmazonBasics USB Type-C to USB Type-C 2.0 Cable, $7.66, available at Amazon
- Anker Nylon Braided Tangle-Free Micro USB Cable (2-pack), $9.99
A pair of earbuds
For a pair of earbuds, this product, from Francois et Mimi, has a couple of nice extras to balance out its budget sound.
The first is that the buds are made of silicone and come with three different-size tips. Silicone is softer than hard plastic, and having the size options means that this pair of headphones should fit most people's ears. The second is the inclusion of a mic, so they can be used for phone calls. They won't be as nice as some other headphones we can recommend, but these should be a pretty good pair for everyday listening or your commute.
Francois et Mimi Elite Genuine 3.5mm Wood In-Ear Noise-Isolating Earbuds Headphones with Mic, $17.02, available at Amazon
A laptop bag
Like it's mouse, Amazon's line of laptop bags won't win any design awards, but its choice of function over form makes them a good budget option.
While the line goes from fitting 7- to 10-inch netbooks to 17-inch mega-laptops, the sweet spot should be the 14- and 15.6-inch versions. They have three slots, so they can accommodate the laptop, chargers, cables, external batteries, or anything else you can throw at them. The basic, non-padded handles will probably become uncomfortable if you hold the bag like a briefcase, but the shoulder strap does have a pad that should spare you from pain.
- AmazonBasics 15.6-Inch Laptop and Tablet Bag, $14.99, available at Amazon
- AmazonBasics 14-Inch Laptop and Tablet Bag, $13.99, available at Amazon
A phone standAmazon
Lamicall has focused on form and function when designing this stand, which it claims can accommodate anything from a smartphone to an iPad Mini.
I have a stand very similar to this, and having a hole to thread a charging cable through is a nice way to reduce desk clutter. The aluminum build of the stand is meant to match the Apple aesthetic, but should look fine on a desk next to any computer or monitor.
Lamicall S1 Aluminum Stand for All Smart Phones, $9.99, available at Amazon
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This post was originally published on: Businessinsider.