If you travel a lot, or even a little, chances are you own a laptop or notebook PC. And you probably own one of those neat little carrying cases as well. They have just enough room inside for the computer itself with a little left over to stick the power cord inside next to it. If you’re lucky, there’ll be a pocket on the front like mine where you can put any extra gadgets you have. That would be the perfect place to put the new Verbatim Notebook Essentials Kit.
The kit includes:
I’ll be playing with these toys on the laptop I use for writing, which is a HP Pavilion ZE4400 with 1.7Ghz AMD processor, 512MB of RAM and a 40GB internal hard drive.
Okay, let’s open the package. Mine came in a dull metallic blue case embossed with the Verbatim logo on the front. The whole set is USB 1.1 & 2.0 compliant, so there’s no need to worry about whether this stuff will work with your PC. Just plug and play. First comes the USB Hub. I plugged it in and was instantly met with a bright blue LED right in the eyeball. Fair warning, when you plug yours in, turn it to the side a little unless you want your retinas burned out.
I tested each port with my external HD to ensure true 2.0 data transfer rates, and was not disappointed at all. The hub delivered. And it looks pretty damned nice too. The only problem with it, and I’m sure it’s due to the heavier wire that had to be used to supply 4 ports, is the shortness of the cable that reaches from your port to the hub. It’s around 2 ½ “ long. Had Verbatim gone retractable with this, I’m sure we would be stuck with a two-port hub instead. So make do!
Okay, for that little mouse. It’s about 1/3 the size of your typical mouse, and it feels like you might just break the thing with very little pressure. Retractable, and compact. Let’s plug it in. It is your typical two-button optical mouse with your typical two button setup and a scroll wheel. For people with smaller hands, this would probably be very nice, but I have big gorilla hands and I had to hold it with my fingertips. But it did work with no problem, and I give it two thumb tips up.
On to the retractable Network/Phone cable. I unhooked my Internet and quickly plugged this thing in before I started having withdraws. It only takes a few seconds people. Internet addiction is an ugly thing and has to be fed rather than combated.
So on with the test. I was still getting my 12Mbs download speed, so the compact size didn’t hinter the connection any. Uploading seemed a little slower, but that could be any number of things. So I wasn’t to worried about it.
I connected the phone cable in and hooked the other end to my phone line. I decided the best way to test a phone cable is to make a phone call. So I called my Mom’s cell phone via some old software I had on backup, and the connection was sweet like honey. This is a very handy little piece, and possibly the most useful thing in here if you spend time traveling for business and have to connect to the net constantly. My recommendation to Verbatim for their next kit: USB Wireless Internet receiver.
With the retractable USB connector and the mini USB to USB connector, I decided to test them both together. I hooked up my camera/webcam to the mini USB and plugged the other end of it into the retractable cable. I hooked it up, waited for Windows to get comfortable with it, and tested it in a video call to a friend of mine in London. I got true USB 2.0 speed, and the picture was smooth. It still had that slight choppiness that webcam still have for some reason, even as advanced as every other piece of technology has become. But who’s complaining? At least we’re not stuck with that abominable Video Phone anymore…
My judgment is not really so much based on how well the products work as much as how useful the kit was as a whole. It’s not hard to crank out a case full of small things that work well via USB. There are many companies doing it. But in Verbatim’s case, they managed to go beyond basic and give you what is most useful.
Just like the name of the product, these are the notebook essentials. I could easily see how the common traveler could find a place for this somewhere and use it every time time they brought out their laptop PC. Although I wouldn’t mind seeing a version come out with a mini Wireless receiver (I want full credit for that idea, Verbatim!).