The $13 accessory every Chromebook owner should carry

Chromebook Accessory

It's been years since I've traveled with any computer other than a Chromebook. For the kind of work I do on the go (and at home, for that matter), Chrome OS is perfect for my needs: It's fast, light, and hassle-free -- and it makes it easy for me to do exactly what I need to do.

There's just one problem with relying on a Chromebook while on the road: Most Chromebooks lack a good old-fashioned Ethernet port. And whether you're in a hotel or at a conference (hello, I/O), there are plenty of times when reliable Wi-Fi access isn't available but you still need to be online.

I learned early on -- back when I was traveling with my clunky old first-gen Samsung Chromebook -- that not having the option to plug in when needed can be a real problem. The situation may not come up terribly often, but trust me: You don't want to be unprepared if and when it does.

Chromebook Ethernet

Luckily, the solution's pretty simple: All you need is a cheap little adapter that lets you connect your Chromebook to Ethernet via USB. I picked one up for about 15 bucks a couple years ago and haven't traveled without it since. I don't need it too frequently, but when I do, it's there -- and all I do is plug it into a USB port, connect an Ethernet cable, and I'm good to go; Chrome OS automatically detects the connection and I'm online in seconds.

The adapter I got is made by a company called (much to my amusement) BobjGear. It's now selling for $18 on Amazon.

There are plenty of others that work just as well: NewEgg has one made by EdiMax that's currently $13, for instance. I haven't used it myself, but I know of at least one Googler from the Chrome OS team who's given it a thumbs-up.

Chromebook USB Ethernet Adapter

Speaking of Google, I've been told the company stocks Cisco-made adapters for Chromebook use on its own campus; you can find those for $25 at Amazon at the moment.

I've heard good things about a $14 adapter by TrendNet, too.

Ultimately, they all do the same thing and it doesn't much matter which one you choose. If I were to get one now, I'd probably go with the EdiMax since it's the cheapest, but any of them will get the job done.

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If you use your Chromebook out and about in the world, though, I'd strongly suggest picking one and throwing it in your computer bag. You never know when it might save the day.

[Say what?! 3 major misconceptions about Google's Chrome OS]

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