Notebook Essentials, by Verbatim
Posted: 2-Dec-2006

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: Verbatim Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Judd Spitzer Class: HARDWARE

Overview
Verbatim, best known for its CD-R, DVD-R and Floppy disks, is foraying into the world of accessories. Today the road warrior is presented with a small group of gadgets that could be useful in a pinch when trekking out away from your desktop environment. Verbatim now brings us the Notebook Essentials package.

Enclosed in a rather small pouch is a sort of Swiss army knife of needed accessories for your laptop. Besides a nice little carrying case, you get an optical mouse, a USB extension cable, a combo Ethernet/Phone cable, mini-usb adapter, and 4-port USB hub.

All of the wires come with retractable cables. This is a great feature that ensures your devices aren't all tangled up in your briefcase. It also makes it easier to pack back into the case the different devices and cables, quickly and easily. I found myself excited to have this little package when I saw all of the different pieces of hardware at my disposal.


Notebook Essentials package

Includes

  • Storage Case Protective lightweight case securely stores contents in designated locations to prevent shifting.
  • Combination Network (RJ45) & Modem (RJ11) Retractable Cable Perfect solution for hooking up to the Internet while on the road.  6 ft. retractable network or modem cable                           
  • USB Optical Mini Travel Mouse Small & compact solution for small workspaces.  Plug & Play.  Measures 3" Tall x 1.5" Wide.
  • USB Retractable Cable Retractable cable for hard to reach USB ports
  • 4-Port USB Hub Increase the amount of USB ports from one to four.  Includes a power light that activates indicating the hub is ready for use.
  • USB to Mini-USB Adapter Ideal for transferring files such as images from a digital camera or music to or from an MP3 player.

Price
The Essentials package retails for $54, and the street prices range from $38.95 to $49.99.

USB Mouse
The jewel in the case is the USB mouse. I have an iBook G4 that I tested it with. While not a fault of the mouse, my laptop only has USB ports on the left hand side. Plugging the mouse directly into a left side port, the mouse would not reach to the right side, making it difficult to use the mouse. Fortunately, the Essentials package also includes a USB retractable extension cable that can be used when you don't have a USB port on the right side.


Shows USB retractable extension cable with USB mouse


The mouse is small, and while some may not like their mouse this small, I appreciated the small size. It has two buttons and a scrolll wheel, so it is highly functional and very responsive. It is an optical mouse, so it does require something opaque underneath it to operate, but you don't have to use a standard mouse pad (aka, no traction is required). The mouse provides good response and the buttons let you know that they have been clicked. The wheel uses clicks about every 20 degrees of movement, providing good feedback. For a tiny mouse, this really shines through.


The Verbatim mouse next to the Apple mouse

The mouse, just like all of the pieces of hardware that are provided within the Essentials package, are made well enough to handle the basic wear and tear of a business traveler. The retractable cables are fantastic. It makes it easy to store and stay organized. When I was getting ready for my plane, I was able to neatly clean up all of my wires in a snap.

I did discover that your trackpad is disabled if you're using the mouse. Of course, the reason you would want to use this mouse is because you don't like the trackpad; moreover, disabling the trackpad prevents incidental contact that obruptly moves your mouse when you don't want it moved. Overall, disabling the trackpad is a good thing.

USB Hub
This 4-port USB 2.0 compliant hub is small enough to go just about anywhere. Although it isn't a powered hub, going from 2 available ports to 5 can be an advantage if you are connecting to many different devices. You do have to be sure to reserve the built-in port for a power-hungry device, and if you have two devices that require a powered port, then you'll need to unplug the Verbatim HUB to utilize both ports. It works great for hooking up a USB mouse along with a USB keyboard. As a road warrior, I wouldn't expect to do too much that would require a hub, but the convenience is nice.


Verbatim 4-port USB hub

mini-USB adapter
The mini-USB adapter is well constructed of sturdy black plastic. It has a small footprint, so it takes up little room changing your cable from USB to a mini USB adapted cable. My SLVR Motorola phone for instance uses this connection, as do many cameras. More and more, this adapter will be a nice gadget to have around, so you don't need two cables.


Verbatim mini-USB adapter

USB retractable extension cable
The USB Extension cable is on a retractable spool, and is about 4 feet long, allowing you to connect to some close peripherals. This is an extension cable, so one end is an "A" end, and the other end is a "B" end. The cable feels almost flat, but that lends itself to be easily retracted back into its reel. I used this extension quite a few times with no problems at all. It is very useful for extending the Verbatim mouse, or even the hub, from a left side port to the right side of the computer.


Verbatim retractable USB extension cable

Combo Ethernet/Phone cable
This cable is 6 feet long, and sits in a nice retractable reel. Both the phone and Ethernet cable are connected as one flat cable, with RJ45 and RJ11 connectors on both ends, it gives the appearance of a two headed snake. The manufacturing on these cables is well done. They are easy to insert and remove from sockets, as many people know can be difficult at times. If your computer doesn't have built-in Wi-Fi, or the area you are trying to connect to doesn't support Wi-Fi, this is a very handle cable to use. Most hotels offer internet connections in the room, and using a retractable ethernet cable makes for a clean workstation created on the fly. My only gripe is that the cable could be just a tad longer.

Summary
Verbatim set out to create a nice set of laptop accessories for the road warrior, and I say MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! This set provides great connectivity cables, as well as other nifty devices, such as the USB mouse and USB hub. All of these widgets enhance the capability of our laptops while we are on the road. With all the cables being retractable, these accessories pack neatly away in its rubber case, providing a little extra room for other extras (such as a USB thumb drive and a SecureID card). I believe that it is priced right, and is designed with the laptop user in mind. As more and more technology is integrated into our lifestyles, accessory packages like this are a welcome addition for staying up-to-date and organized. The USB mouse alone makes this a valuable package for a laptop user, and with all the rest, I highly recommend the Notebook Essentials package for any laptop user.

Pros

  • Convenient and small 2-button scroll wheel USB mouse
  • Packs neatly in a nice case, with room for other items
  • Retractable cables keep things clean and organized
  • USB to Mini USB adapter comes in handy


Cons

  • Cables could be a bit longer
  • USB hub is not powered


Overall Rating

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice