Best Dog Tech & Accessories: 14 Essentials for Your Pup

At WIRED, we really love our dogs. We also love each other’s dogs, whether they’re adorable little nuggets in New York City apartments, pit mixes in the country, or loyal heelers that spend all day, every day, within 6 inches of my left foot. For the past few years, my colleagues Scott Gilbertson and Julian Chokkattu and I (Adrienne) have been trading tips, tricks, and gear. These are currently our favorite pieces of tech that we’ve bought or tested for our very, very good boys and girls.

Are you a recent pandemic pet owner? Don’t forget to check out our guide to the best pet supplies for new adopters. Er, and maybe check out our Best Sustainable Cleaning Supplies guide too.

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The 9 Best Travel Bags: Carry-On Luggage, Duffel, Budget (2020)

For a long while, if you wanted an aluminum suitcase, you were going to spend four figures. Away’s suitcase is not exactly affordable, but it is attainable (9/10, WIRED Recommends).

The metal is thick, and the fixtures are solid; Away didn’t cheap out on the materials. Two organizer panels inside keep your stuff from shifting around, and there’s a a stowable interior laundry bag to keep dirty clothes off your clean clothes. There’s also an option of an integrated power bank that’s accessible through a flip-up door near the telescoping handle. I generally recommend a stand-alone power bank, but it’s a free option on the Away, so you may as well get it.

An aluminum bag will dent and scratch over time, and you should accept that before you splash down big money on one. You may be able to baby it a little more if you never check it—don’t count on that, because it’s common these days for airlines to run out of carry-on room—but it’s unlikely that you’ll make it more than a few trips with it looking minty new. I’m hesitant to buy into marketed “authenticity,” but I have to agree with Away. A dinged-up and well-traveled bag ends up looking pretty sweet.

(Note: Away has been embroiled in continued controversy over the behavior of its CEO, her departure from the role in December 2019, her quiet return in January, and her possible removal again at the end of this year.)

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The 6 Best Laptop Stands (2020): Adjustable, Portable, and More

You’re often craning your neck when you work on a laptop, and that’s not good for your back. Laptop stands can help, whether you’re at home or in the office, especially if you want to upgrade from using a stack of old books. The best laptop stands raise your laptop’s screen closer to eye level, bettering your posture, and some can even go from sitting to standing. We’ve tested a handful, and these are our favorites.

Need more recommendations for your home office? Read our Work From Home gear guide.

Peripherals Are Important

Snagging one of the laptop stands below is just one of many ways you can improve your posture when sitting at a desk for long periods of time. Hooking up a computer monitor to your laptop is another. Not only does it let you multitask easier, but it also means you won’t have to crane your neck as much.

Some of these laptop stands are best paired with a separate keyboard and mouse. These peripherals mean you can set your laptop farther away and at various heights, and you won’t need to stretch your arms in weird or awkward ways just to type. The right mouse can even help prevent muscle pain or carpal tunnel syndrome, so check out our recommendations in our Best Keyboards and Best Gaming Mouse guides.

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Nomad Base Station Pro Wireless Charger: An AirPower Alternative

There was a wireless charger that was going to challenge this notion: AirPower by Apple. It was said to be capable of charging multiple devices, without needing to place your iPhone, Apple Watch, or AirPods case in a specific area. Apple canceled the project after hitting a few roadblocks, but rumors suggest the company is still working on it.

Aira figured out what Apple couldn’t. FreePower technology allows for full surface freedom. That means you can place your device anywhere on the wireless charging mat and it will juice up, no careful placement needed. The first company making use of FreePower is Nomad with the Base Station Pro, but Aira says it will have more products soon from other manufacturers and in different form factors. It also wants to put this technology everywhere: airports, coffee shops, and other public spaces.

This “full surface freedom” is accomplished with multiple coils in a wireless charger—18, specifically, on the Base Station Pro. The charger can accurately pinpoint where devices are placed, quickly couple them with coils, and offer just the right amount of power each device needs. For iPhones, the charger will deliver the maximum 7.5 watts Apple allows. For Android phones, you’re limited to 5 watts. For smaller devices like AirPods, it can be around 2 watts, depending on what the device asks for.

FreePower comes with another benefit too. Traditional wireless chargers are inefficient, continuously searching for a device to power. Aira claims these standard chargers can use up to 130 iPhone 11 charging cycles worth of power in a 30-day period. So you might think that a wireless charger with 18 coils might be even worse, right? Wrong. Aira’s says its tech generates 1.7 iPhone 11 charging cycles worth of power in the same period of time per coil, totaling around 30.6. While that’s still a lot of wasted power, it’s vastly lower than the inefficient chargers of today.

Still Imperfect

The Nomad wireless charger that houses all of this tech is one of the most attractive wireless chargers I’ve seen, especially considering it can charge up to three devices simultaneously. It’s extremely thin, has an aluminum chassis, and it’s topped off with an elegant leather layer. There are three LEDs that indicate whether or not a device is getting power, and the charger itself is powered by an included 30-watt power adapter and a USB-C cable.

Fitting three phones side-by-side is a stretch, but I was able to charge two phones and the AirPods Pro without a problem. I moved the phones around, slid the AirPods case to a different area of the mat, and still, all the devices kept charging. Out of habit I still looked hard and made sure my devices were getting power, but I imagine over time I’ll be more carefree.

This system still isn’t perfect. First, charging is very slow. That might be unsurprising since wired charging has always delivered superior speeds, but the Base Station Pro is even slower than most other wireless chargers out there. It might be able to charge your iPhone at the fastest possible speeds, but Android phones will take several hours to go from zero to 100 percent.

Other wireless chargers on the market are able to output 15 watts or more to recharge Android phones, but the Base Station Pro is limited to 5 watts for Android handsets. Eric Goodchild, co-founder of Aira, says most wireless chargers spend very little time at that 15-watt charging rate. Eventually, things get too hot and the phone or device throttles charging speeds to stay below a certain temperature.

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I Bought the Duffel Bag That’s in ‘The Expanse’—and Loved It

My husband and I have shared an ancient Mountain Hardwear expedition duffel for years (similar to this one) to keep our snowboarding, surfing, and camping gear together in the car. With the arrival of our two children, we needed another one to haul their tiny camping chairs, tiny sleeping bags, and three thousand stuffed animals.

Image may contain Clothing and Apparel
Photograph: OnSight

Enter OnSight’s Tarmac duffel. It comes in sizes ranging from a 50-liter to a 140-liter size. The 100-liter version can fit everything that my 4-person family needs for shelter, like a stand-up tent, vestibule, sleeping pads, and sleeping bags.

It’s light—under 3 pounds for the 50-liter version—and has reinforced seams, a yawning D-shaped opening, comfortable padded grab handles, and fitted, padded backpack straps. I’m 5’2” and I can cinch the backpack straps tight enough for me to wear it comfortably while hiking.

Most importantly, the bag is also environmentally-friendly. It’s made from Cotec EPO, which is a tarpaulin material that’s polyvinyl chloride (PVC)-free. When it’s inhaled as a gas—mostly during the manufacturing process—PVC can have dangerous side effects that include liver, lung, and kidney damage.

“PVC is not something we’re not comfortable having in our product or in our supply chain,” said Ourum. “When [Cotec EPO] is combusted, it’s entirely inert and non-toxic. Even if you were to put flame to it, it wouldn’t create any toxic materials.”

Because it’s water-resistant and the zippers are covered, I’ve been using it as a paddle-packing dry bag. I’ve loaded it up in canoes and on paddleboards, and all our gear—including our full-sized pillows—has stayed dry. It can also withstand pretty extreme temperature environments; the tarpaulin is designed to stay flexible even around -40 degrees Celsius, so I’m looking forward to loading it up with snowboarding gear once the weather turns.

It’s pretty durable, too. I’ve only taken ours out on two camping trips so far, but so far it’s withstood pretty harsh treatment. “That’s the most sustainable thing you can do, is to build a bag that will really last,” said Ourom.

People Problems

I Bought the Duffel Bag That's in The Expanseand Loved It
Photograph: OnSight
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The 12 Best Laptop Backpacks for Work and Life (2020)

Earlier this year, Timbuk2 launched their “No Wet Laptops” campaign with several water-resistant options. I tested the Lane Commuter, which is the smaller, stormproof version of their popular Parker backpack. The bag has its own removable rain cover stored in the bottom. As if that wasn’t enough, the front is made from protective coated nylon and the interior is also water-resistant. I filled the front pockets full of packets of tissues while biking through a particularly long, grim, and rainy Northwestern spring, and they all stayed miraculously dry.

I particularly liked the bag’s easy-access magnetic front pocket, which I used for storing keys, all 6,000 of my favorite pens, and lip balm, and a big reflective panel on the bottom. It’s worth noting that at 2.4 pounds, this bag is a little heavier and bulkier than some of our other picks. But it’s worth it if you, too, live in a part of the country where you’re soaked for 9 months out of the year and keep a boot dryer by your front door.

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The 8 Best Messenger Bags: Stylish, Waterproof, Lightweight, and More

Adrienne So is a senior writer for WIRED and reviews consumer technology. She graduated from the University of Virginia with bachelor’s degrees in English and Spanish, and she worked as a freelance writer for Cool Hunting, Paste, Slate, and other publications. She is currently based in Portland, Oregon.
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8 Best Camera Accessories for Android and iPhone (2020)

Your smartphone’s camera is already great, but its key shortcoming is the built-in—and very small—lens. A bigger lens means more detailed and more dramatic images. That’s where Moment comes in. Using professional-grade optics, Moment lenses greatly expand your phone camera’s capabilities. The company makes different lenses for different applications. Pictured here is the Moment Anamorphic lens, which is perfect for video or ultrawide landscape photography. If you’re looking to shoot better portraits with your phone or wade into street photography, I’d also recommend Moment’s 58-mm lens. It’s right in that telephoto sweet spot, delivering 2X magnification and some luscious bokeh. Don’t take my word for it, check out Moment’s photo gallery to see what these lenses are capable of.

To use any of Moment’s lenses, you will have to invest in a Moment Photo Case, but the designs are stylish, and they offer excellent all-around protection. The cases are only available for select phones from Samsung, Google, OnePlus, and Apple. For a more universal and affordable option, we like clip-on lenses from Aukey, like this one.

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5 Mobile Keyboards Reviewed: Arteck, Plugable, Sounwill, Moko, Jelly Comb

This keyboard from Jelly Comb (Rating: 6/10) is the only keyboard I looked at that includes a touchpad. It’s a neat little folding keyboard that folds down to about the same size as the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ I used in my tests. It supports Bluetooth 3 and is compatible with Android, iOS, Windows, and Mac devices.

While the design is neat, it has some serious downsides. The wide hinges mean that some of the keys are much smaller than others: The t and v, for instance, are half the size of other keys; and it is easy to hit the bulge of the hinge rather than the keys next to it. The other keys are decently sized and have a pleasant feel with a good amount of vertical travel. The touchpad is also smaller than most laptop touchpads, which makes precise maneuvering more difficult. Plus, while the presence of the touchpad is a plus for Windows devices, it’s superfluous for Android users. For Apple users, the appalling mouse support in iOS 13 means the touchpad doesn’t really add much to the iPhone or iPad.

So, the Jelly Comb keyboard might appeal to those using Windows devices, or those spending a lot of time remotely controlling a desktop computer from a phone. But if you’re looking to type comfortably, this one serves up too much wasted space.

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Why You Should Buy a Cheap Gaming Mouse

Does your wrist or hand often hurt after work? The problem might be your mouse or trackpad. Wrist pain sucks when all you want to do after work is cook dinner or wind down with a guitar. Years back, I’d come home every day feeling like Dr. Claw from Inspector Gadget. My hand hurt like hell from using a dinky computer mouse hours at a time.

For a while, I dreaded Mondays, when I had to go back to work and the mouse. But one day I stopped buying ice packs, and on a whim, I tried a $40 gaming mouse from Corsair instead. I’m not a really a gamer, but this mouse was nothing like the dirt-cheap mouse I’d been using. I haven’t had a twinge of wrist ache in the better part of a decade. As much as we criticize PC gaming gear for looking more over the top than a Lisa Frank binder from the 1990s, these peripherals get one thing right: comfort.

Carpal Whattal?

Your body wasn’t designed by nature to shake a lump of plastic side to side all week. It was designed to pick berries and turn leaves into loincloths (or something like that). Using a mouse or a trackpad for a long period of time is going to give you carpal tunnel syndrome or mouse shoulder (or both), and we’re all using them too often.

Carpal tunnel is a condition caused by the swelling of the wrist’s median nerve and is often the result of making the same wrist movements over and over, day in and day out. It’s characterized by tingling, pain, and weakness in the wrist. And then there’s mouse shoulder, the inflammation of shoulder tendons that come from the bad posture of using a computer, often caused or made worse by trying to compensate for wrist pain.

Most of us long ago got used to the idea of using laptop trackpads and junky keyboards and mice that came with our computers. But gamers, willing to spend money on peripherals they feel will improve their performance, were buying things like mechanical keyboards and gaming mice. These peripherals are often built with ergonomics, comfort, and precision in mind, but those are all things everyone should experience, not just gamers.

What to Avoid

Our guide to the Best Gaming Mice has some great tips for what gamers might want in a mouse, but if you’re not gaming, the most important thing to look out for is the shape. The cheap gaming mice tend to share the same basic design you’ll find on the expensive ones. There are a few other specs to be wary about too.

  • Ignore DPI. DPI, or dots per inch, is an overrated measurement of movement sensitivity that’s more useful to marketing executives than the people who actually use them.

  • Get one with very few buttons. You don’t need 10 buttons on a mouse. They might be helpful if you’re cycling through weapons to shoot bad guys, but they cost more and are unnecessary if you’re not gaming. Thumb buttons on the grip of the mouse, in particular, always get in my way.

  • Latency. You’ll see companies touting a near-zero delay for the time it takes the mouse to register your movements on the screen, and they may use this to push wired mice over wireless ones. In reality, mice are so good these days whether they’re wired or wireless. I prefer a cord as it means I don’t need batteries on hand to keep it powered, but whichever you go for, it doesn’t make much of a difference as far as comfort.

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