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Nine Cool Devices for the Connected Traveler - Wordulator : Wordulator

Sometimes we get so entrenched in our traveling habits that it takes an event for travel press like the recent  Connected Traveler Technology Showcase to open our eyes to some serious technology as well as gadgets and devices that make traveling more efficient and enjoyable.  Here are some of them.  My next post will look at the apps and other software at the event.

Every so often someone comes up with something so incredibly easy and so useful it just makes me smile. At the recent Connected Traveler Technology Showcase in San Francisco the inventor of the GoSmart Clip was showing a small plastic bracket that attaches to your car steering wheel or your golf bag or shoulder bag and fits just about any smart phone. It uses a ratchet to resize and release your phone. Nice for GPS – keeps it squarely on your steering wheel, which makes it impossible to use for texting, but plenty easy for more passive GPS and phone calls.

Often during international trips I find myself staring at the ceiling of the hotel room in the wee hours of the night, my body was telling me it is four o’clock in the afternoon. So I might as well catch up on email or do some writing but I don’t want to switch on the hotel light. That’s one of the features that I found attractive on the new lightweight netbooks from HP, not to mention the unusual peacock blue trim. I’m still trying to find where tablets fit into my life as a writer, and questioning whether I really need to lug around my full sized laptop. These seem to fit the bill.

From my own personal experience I can tell you that I don’t go on a trip without my Verizon MiFi device. It lets me get online from just about anywhere and also acts as a hub so we can circumvent the problem of the one-device one Internet connection limitation typical of many hotels. At the Connected Traveler Technology Showcase Verizon also showed a number of tablets with 3G and smart phones with 4G connectivity.  The HTC Thunderbolt (left) uses the latest Verizon 4G and turns the phone into a wireless router for up to five devices. You don’t really know how handy that is until you’re in a hotel room that charges exorbitant fees for slow connectivity and you have to fight over who gets the WiFi.  You both do.  Invite some more people to the room.  Hey, this makes it a regular connectivity party.

 

I use three displays in my office and truth be told, could even add another one. I like to spread out my notes, research and browser on one display while writing on the other. I also keep my social media and email on one monitor throughout the day. Mobile Monitor Technologies, showed the Field Monitor Pro, a portable display is light enough to be able to pack in a bag and can be set up vertically, horizontally or even hung on a wall. Its built-in keypad probably comes in handy for traveling accountants. While I probably wouldn’t take it on an overnight trip, I sure would when I plant myself down someplace for a week or so and need to get some serious work done. Wouldn’t be without it.

 

You get used to having connectivity to VPN into your office but you can’t always count on having it when you travel. So portable storage like the drives from Western Digital make a lot of sense, especially when you’re shooting a lot of video or photos or need access to your documents. What’s really nice though, is that these drives sync in the cloud so everything is updated between your portable drive and the drive in your office.  They showed their Scorpio Black hard drives for notebooks with up to 750GB of storage that give you the faster performance of desktop PC drives, yet don’t eat up a lot of battery life.  By the way, it isn’t that hard to open up your notebook and install a new drive.  Here’s how.

 

General Imaging showed a family of affordable digital cameras under the GE moniker, including dust-proof, shockproof, waterproof, even a prosumer camera with a 27 – 405mm lens that felt very nice in the hand. But the one that caught my fancy had a built-in pico projector that would be great on camping trips, shooting daytime activities and projecting them on the wall of the tent after sundown.

 

Also in the photo department is a nifty, inexpensive gadget that eliminates the problems of flash photos that wash out faces, lose background detail or create that oh so evil red-eye effect. The LightScoop was developed by professor Ken Kobre’ and fits on top of DSLR cameras and bounces the flash off the ceiling or the wall for much more attractive diffused light. Your background objects show up in your photos and everyone and everything looks a whole lot better.  At The Connected Traveler Technology Showcase,  Dr. Kobre and his wife Betsy set up a backdrop with a hula dancer in the foreground.  The demo showed how the Lightscoop illuminates the entire space rather than just the foreground object.

Everyone knows a traveler who keeps saying “You shoulda been there!”  Here’s a way they can put your in their shoes.  Or flippers.  Or ski boots: Wearable cameras from Liquid Image. These sports goggles come in a variety of styles, some even for underwater use. A switch on the edge of the goggles lets you shoot video or stills of your diving adventures, skiing, motocross just the way you see them. I was impressed with footage from a downhill skier that they used as part of their demo. It made me think about some of the triple black diamond runs that I haven’t conjured the courage to tackle—the video actually made it look do-able.

 

One of the most fun and interesting tech products on display at The Connected Traveler Technology Showcase was a GPS dongle from Traxxitt. Designed with an Apple-like look, the device comes in a variety of colors and lets you track whatever you attach it to in pretty darn close to real time on maps on your smart phone or PC. They spoke about schools in Brazil that are giving one to each young student on long-distance field trips, giving their parents a much more secure feeling knowing that they can see where their children are at any given time.  This interview explains how it works.

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