Nursing Your Tech Gadgets

Laptops, cellphones, and other nano tech gear need special care to survive. Here’s how to stop your electronic equipment from getting damaged. 

Looking After Your Laptop

Don’t Put Off Getting Back Up

The only way to make sure your notebook or cellphone will always have adequate power is to purchase a few extra batteries for it. If you hope to stock up on extra batteries, however, the best time to buy them is when you purchase your portable gear or shortly thereafter.

Given the rapid turnover rate in most manufacturers’ product lines, it may be difficult to find a replacement battery for some models as little as two years after you make your purchase. Also, always make sure you fully charge all of your batteries just before you travel…and don’t forget to pack your charger.

Reinforce A Carrying Case

You can convert a regular shoulder bag or knapsack into a padded carrier for your laptop, PDA, cellphone, or other peripheral gear by cutting pieces of upholstery foam to line the inside of the bag. The foam, available at fabric stores, is easy to cut with scissors. Before you start, though, place the notebook inside the bag and take note of how much room is left. You want the computer to compress the foam for a snug fit, but you also want to be able to slip the computer in easily.

Calling All Cellphones

Was it really only a few years ago that we got along fine without these little gadgets? Many of today’s cellphones do much more than place and receive telephone calls. They include digital still and video cameras, personal digital assistants, and even Internet browsers and e-mail programs. Yet as much as we rely on them, cellphones are among the most fragile electronic items out there, with improper handling and storage accounting for most of the damage.

Travel Precautions

Never leave your home or office without placing your cellphone on a belt clip or inside a protective case. Don’t place it unprotected in your pocket or inside a purse. In addition to the risk of impact damage, an unsecured phone is easier for pickpockets to steal.

Fly Side By Side

When traveling by plane, always include your cellphone in your carry-on luggage. Packing it with your checked luggage is the best way to find a broken phone when you arrive at your destination.

Phones Should Wear Seatbelts

If you use your cellphone while driving, be sure to securely mount it where it is easily accessible from the driver’s seat. Don’t leave it lying on the passenger seat or armrest, because it is likely to fall on the floor or against the door every time you make a sharp turn or sudden stop.

Cleaning Your Cellphone

Like every other phone, your cellphone will require the occasional cleaning and disinfecting. Never use abrasives or strong chemicals to clean your phone. Instead, wipe it down with a soft cloth dampened with a bit of isopropyl alcohol. Take care not to touch the display screen (LCD or liquid crystal display) with the damp cloth; it can leave streaks or damage any protective coating on the screen. If you need to clean the screen, wipe it with a soft, dry cloth or use any cleaning cloth supplied by the phone’s manufacturer.

Patching a Cracked Cellphone Screen

If you get a small crack on your cellphone’s display screen, but it still works fine, try covering the crack with transparent tape or the stronger clear packaging tape. This should prevent the crack from spreading and keep the panel from popping out.

Get a Solid Case

They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that is certainly true when it comes to protecting all the valuable data on most PDAs. Given the universally fragile nature of these devices, one of the best ways you can safeguard your investment and your important information is to keep yours housed in a protective carrying case. There are a number of different styles and materials to choose from.

Sync Your PDA Frequently

If you carry a lot of valuable addresses, phone numbers, appointments, and other important information on your PDA, be sure to sync it with your computer frequently—every day if you input new information all the time. 

Shout Out to a Samaritan

Although there’s no guarantee that someone will return your PDA if you lose it, there is one way that you might help facilitate its safe homecoming. Set a repeating alarm to go off once a week that displays your name, address, and phone number.

Protect a PDA Screen

By far, the most important—and most delicate—feature of any PDA is the LCD screen. To maintain its “fresh out of the box” clarity and to ward off scratches and dirt, cover it with a transparent screen protector.