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Desktop In Your Pocket

Are the laptop's days numbered? On your next trip, you might be leaving your notebook at home and carrying a gadget that stores your entire computing environment—software as well as files. Known as smart drives, these USB 2.0 devices let you bring your digital desktop to any computer, whether it's an alternate office PC, an airport workstation, or a machine in the local coffee shop. And you'll leave behind no browser cache, history, or passwords. U3's smart-drive technology powers drives from SanDisk, PNY Technologies, and Verbatim. Lexar Media has a competing JumpDrive Lightning USB flash drive. Expect to pay between $50 and $80 for 1 gigabyte of storage. Don't junk that laptop just yet—but for many trips, these devices could take a load off your shoulder.

A version of this article appeared in the February 2007 issue of Fast Company magazine.