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Just because someone has cool tech doesn’t mean that’s the end of the story. The next step is to accessorize that cool tech with useful add-ons that can bring new functionality and protection. There’s nothing wrong with sometimes adding silly bling, either.

Protection may be the first and most useful tech add-on in town. Whether it’s a laptop or smartphone, most of our favorite tech devices are not built to ruggedized military standards; in fact, they’re pretty fragile. If you’ve ever made a multi-hundred dollar mistake by crushing your laptop or phone, you know what I mean. Good tech devices need good cases.

Laptop cases need not be the giant, clunky suitcases that were popular 10 years ago. Take a look at popular tech website Newegg.com and you’ll see what I mean. Search for “laptop cases” and you’ll find everything from ultra-rugged hard shell cases by Pelican, to lightweight laptop “sleeves.” Padded laptop backpacks are also popular, especially with students.

Cases for tablet computers and cell phones are made by so many manufacturers that it’s hard to know ahead of time which products are good and which are junk. A rep from Trident Cases (tridentcase.com) dropped off some samples at the Transcript offices, and I can testify to the quality of their construction, especially the iPhone cases.

Trident Cases also has the distinction of actually manufacturing some of their products in the United States, a rarity in our “everything-is-made-in-China” age. I would have also been able to assess one of their iPad cases, had some unscrupulous ne’er-do-well Transcript employee not pilfered it from the box of samples before I arrived (oh, OK, I guess you can leave out that sentence, but, really!!!).

The most useful accessory for tablet computers may be an external keyboard. Folks love toting around their tablets wherever they go, but sometimes, real typing needs to take place that simply cannot be accomplished with a tablets’ clunky on-screen keyboard.

The external keyboard I have direct experience with is the Ultrathin Keyboard Cover Model 920-004013 for the iPad, by Logitech. I searched long and hard before settling on this keyboard as the best choice for the iPad. Ease of use, comfortable and effective typing and rugged construction make this device a winner. It also doubles as a nice screen cover.

When looking for tech-related gifts and accessories, no search is complete without a visit to ThinkGeek.com. ThinkGeek is without a doubt the best site on the Internet for unusual, outside-the-box nerdy gifts. Want a t-shirt with a playable electric guitar built in to the front? They’ve got one. How about a little robot alarm that will guard your computer and sound crazy alerts if someone gets too close? ThinkGeek has them. Maybe your tastes lean more towards the Phantom Keystroker, a tiny gag device you plug into the back of someone’s computer that makes the mouse pointer bounce around randomly a few times per hour, and occasionally type random text; If so, ThinkGeek is the place for you. They’ve even got chocolate-scented iPhone cases. What more could you want?