Here are seven ways to protect your gadgets from damage:
1. A case in point
Remember the last time you were taking a photo with your phone? Was that the time when, just as you were marvelling at its pleasing smoothness you also realised it was darned slippery too, and it slid from your grasp? Well, maybe you caught it that time but, as you thought, "That was close!" you really ought to get a case for it.
There are plenty out there, such as those from companies like Tech21 and Peli which offer solid protection against shocks and drops. Even a simply decorative folio-style case is likely to reduce the chance of a screen-shatter.
It's not just phones that are at risk, of course. Cameras, tablets, laptops and other portable gizmos will all thank you for providing them with a shell to hide behind.
And there's another benefit to protective clothing for gadgets – it helps keep them looking as good as new, which could pay dividends if you want to sell it or trade it in for next year's model. In the meantime, however, you can decorate the case with stickers and so on, so everybody knows that one's YOUR iPhone.
2. Go rugged
Some gadgets come protected. Olympus Tough ruggedised compact cameras are shock, crush-, dust-, freeze- and waterproof so you can feel safer taking pictures however much of a butterfingers you are.
Some of the latest mobile phones are waterproof as well, including flagship models from Sony, Samsung and Apple. Mostly you'll be glad of this when you're gardening, say, and your handset falls into a grassy puddle, but the dreaded toilet-drop is always a possibility. With a waterproof model at least you can wash it afterwards to remove all, er, debris before using it again.
3. Protect the glass
On a phone, a screen protector can really make a difference if you're accident-prone. And while the ultimate fear with a screen is it'll crack in a hundred places, a protective layer will also reduce the possibility of a minor-but-still-bloody-annoying unsightly scratch.
This is also true of cameras, where a tiny scratch can ruin every photo you take. On a high-end snapper, especially, it's worth investing in a polarising filter that you can permanently attach to the lens. They're not particularly cheap… except when you compare it to the cost of replacing the lens.
There are screen protectors for laptops, too. They can help protect against getting bashed but additionally often offer privacy so nobody can read what you're writing over your shoulder (always so irritating).
4. Travel carefully
If you're taking your laptop, camera, tablet and phone away with you don't just chuck them all into the same bag, especially with all those cables with sharp plugs as well. A case for each one (and a bag for cables) will prevent them from scratching each other as they go.
And if you're flying, try to keep your valuable tech in your hand luggage so if your checked bag goes astray, you're not left fretting they'll never make their way back to you.
5. Don't back-pocket it
A phone or iPod can fit in almost any pocket but the one behind you makes it an easier place to get nicked from, not to mention increasing the possibility of it falling out (we're thinking toilets here, again, but any open-backed chair provides a possible hazard when you're sitting down). Not to mention if you sit down hard on it, some back pockets are positioned where the gadget takes maximum impact from your Gluteus Maximus to break or at least bend it…
6. Temperature matters
It sounds obvious, this one, but leaving your smartphone in direct sunlight on that Mediterranean beach holiday isn't a great idea. It ain't gonna tan, you know. Quite apart from being at risk from sea water, sand that can scratch it and get into every crevice, and being a temptation to casual thieves, phones and other gadgets can overheat. Smart watches are also at risk from too much heat, even if they are swimproof.
At first you'll probably get a warning on screen saying it's too hot, then it'll turn off. Excessive heat can damage battery performance, too.
Keep your gadgets out of direct sun, away from sand and water and at a manageable temperature. Besides, who wants to hold hot glass to their ear to make a call?
7. Always back up
Your phone has so much precious data, your camera's memory card has all your most recent photos, your MP3 player has your favourite tracks. Make sure it's all backed up, either to a hard drive at home or to the cloud, so that if the worst happens and your gadget is damaged beyond repair you don't lose your valuable photos, music and other stuff. Of course, this applies in the case of your gadgets being stolen, too – a back-up is essential for peace of mind.
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