First recommended purchase is a Pogo Sketch Stylus for the iPad. I bought this to use with apps like notes plus which offer a magnified writing pad and a wrist pad. I still find capacitive touch screens are nowhere near as good as a pen based Tablet PC but the pogo is worth it for the iPad if you like to sketch or can tolerate the handwriting limitations.
Second top non-tech technical purchase of 2011 was my backpack. I stumbled across The North Face Surge in an outdoor shop, the point of sale was awful in terms of helping me understand the bags potential. Five minutes and one bored Mrs Downes later I’d bought it, it is the first bag I’ve owned which ticked all the boxes. It will carry a small laptop (15″) which suits me, plenty of room for the iPad, a pocket big enough for me to last a couple of days from one bag (big bonus for flying), a third pocket for pens, papers etc.. A fourth pocket has plenty of small zipped storage for my mouse, cables and small USB peripherals. That last pocket and a fifth pocket are easily accessed when the bag is laid flat on a desk, the fifth pocket being that for a power supply. It’s just a really well designed bag which also has elastic pockets either side for water / umbrella making it excellent for commuter journeys (for me mainly off the train at Euston and onto the tube). Well recommended, but you’d probably not pick any of that up if you went to The North Faces web site or visited an outdoor shop. This you tube gives a good overview: