Tech for your travels
Published: Wednesday, June 5, 2013 at 12:22 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 5, 2013 at 12:22 p.m.
Technology has been the best thing to happen to summer vacations since sunscreen. Remember travel agents? Mine is named William Shatner. Asking for directions or tips for restaurants? Now we have Siri. Even my 9-year-old loads the backseat with an iPad, Nintendo DS, and other mobile gadgets. Keeps him so occupied I never hear the dreaded “Are we there yet?”
Surely, mobile devices like tablets and smartphones have changed the way we travel. But this convenience comes with a price. The world you’re vacationing away from is still with you everywhere you go. The emails, tweets and constant nag of updates keep us busier than a rocket full of monkeys during the year — so why would we want our vacation to be full of beeps, buzzes and notifications?
This summer, leave the iWhatever at home and try these star-studded devices on for size.
Go Pro Hero3: If you’re any sort of adventurer, your triumphs are nothing but fish tales until you capture them in high-definition video in a way only the Go Pro can. What makes this device unique is the simplicity in attaching it to helmets, handlebars, surfboards and countless other modern-day vessels. Because of its immense popularity, Go Pro quickly evolved from a relatively basic first edition to the feature-packed Hero3. Features include built-in WiFi so it can be controlled by an iOS device, smaller and lighter construction and improved optics for sharper results. One of my favorite aspects is the ability to shoot 12-megapixel stills at an astonishing 30 frames per second. This is truly a revolutionary imaging device because it can go where your video camera cannot and do what your still camera will not. ($399)
Dynotag Smart Luggage Tags: Ever leave your precious luggage with the skycap and have the sneaking feeling that you’ll not be reunited at your destination? Dynotags might leave you with a little peace of mind. These QR-coded tags have an associated website that allows you to leave all sorts of secure information for the person who eventually finds your lost bag. All they have to do is scan it with a smartphone or tablet to reveal contact information or even a recent message from the owner. You also can put one on your keychain if you are prone to lose your keys. ($14.95)
Magellan SmartGPS: If you can’t beat them, join them. Sure, smartphone apps took a big bite out of the stand-alone GPS business, but they are not necessarily better. Magellan came out with the SmartGPS as a way to bridge the gap. It’s a dedicated 5-inch GPS that lives on your dashboard and features touchscreen goodness and text-to-speech and turn-by-turn voice prompts. Furthermore, they have integrated a host of squares that feature real-time traffic updates, location and even prices for fuel stops, weather and plenty of alternative options. It can update from your home WiFi when you pull in the garage or pair with your smartphone’s network signal while you are driving to update settings, pull up a browser or make hands-free calls. ($249.95)
Jawbone Jambox Wireless Speaker: Let’s face it, audiophiles need their fix, as well, and leaving the sound system at home is just not acceptable. Enter Jambox. This handheld and cleverly designed speaker system will bridge the gap for quality sound on the go. Connect Jambox via Bluetooth or cable to your laptop, tablet or smartphone to bring room-filling audio to your digital music library, video games or movies on the go. Syncing the device online allows for updates, new features and even apps that will personalize the output to your tastes. Jambox even doubles as a conference call device or can be used in conjunction with Skype, iChat or Google Talk. ($179.95)