By Robyn Wright
Smartphones and tablets are great as stand-alone devices but sometimes we want a few extra accessories to enhance, protect, and extend their usefulness. However, there are so many accessories available that it can be a little overwhelming. Here are few tips on choosing accessories from three of the most popular categories:
Cases and Protectors
You can usually find both custom fit and generic cases and protectors for your devices. Custom fit are made for a specific make and model. For example, if you have a Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone, you can find cases that are made to fit that exact model. There are also generic cases that will fit a range of devices based on their approximate size, although they might not fit perfectly and could feel a little awkward. If you’re not sure, ask to try out a case before you buy it or at least be aware of the return policy.
Screen protectors work the same way: some will be custom made for your phone or tablet and others can trimmed to fit your device. Cases and protectors can help prevent cracked screens and other expensive mishaps or they can be purely decorative. Inexpensive decorative cases may look nice but they may not be enough to protect your phone.
There is likely to be a huge selection of headphones, earbuds, speakers, and other audio accessories that will work with your device. All smartphones and tablets have an output jack that can be connected to an audio accessory, or you can connect wirelessly through Bluetooth. Check your device settings for Bluetooth options.
With Bluetooth, you connect the accessory by “pairing” it with your device. There is no hard and fast limit on how far apart the two items can be, but 30 feet is often quoted as a standard maximum distance. Many new cars now offer Bluetooth support, so you can play music through the car speakers or use your phone hands-free.
Audio devices come in a wide range of prices and quality: you can find very low-cost accessories but the quality may be poor. On-ear and in-ear headsets will also vary in how well they fit each individual. Be sure to check the return policy, so you can return or exchange them if they are not a good fit.
Power Cables and Chargers
Thankfully, power cables and chargers are becoming more standardized (with the exception of the iPhones and iPads which continue to require custom equipment). Most smartphones and tablets will come with a mini-USB or micro-USB connector and charger. Stand-alone chargers can be brand name or generic; low or high priced; poor quality or excellent quality. There have been a number of recalls on inexpensive, no name chargers and cables because of fire hazards. Lower cost products also tend to have wires that are easier to break.
Portable battery packs are also available, so you don’t need a wall outlet to charge your device when you’re on the go. You charge the battery pack ahead of time and then just connect it to your device when you need more power. There are stand-alone models and models that are built into cases. The stand-alone models are usually more flexible and can work with many different phones and tablets.
Robyn Wright is a social media specialist and blogs on her own blog, RobynsOnlineWorld.com, as well as several other sites. Robyn has a love for family, technology, food and lots of apps!