Luggage? Check. Wallet? Yep. Tech? You bet.
Today’s travellers should consider some high-tech companions to help keep them entertained, organized, and in touch with those who matter.
Whether it’s a summer road trip or jet-setting to Europe or elsewhere, the following are a few great gadget ideas to bring along on your next getaway (and don’t forget travel apps, too, as we covered here in this previous Zoomer piece)!
Phone it In
Simply the best smartphone Samsung has ever created, the water-resistant Galaxy S10+ ($349 on 2-year term; samsung.ca) offers a gorgeous 6.4-inch display, with no bezels or notch to come between you and your content (only a teeny cut-out for the front-facing cameras). Speaking of photography, the Galaxy S10+ boasts a total of 5 cameras: three on the back (which includes a wide, ultra-wide and zoom lens) and two on the front to capture more of your selfies.
Other features include a new in-screen fingerprint reader (one-touch login), all-day battery, and for the first time, “wireless power share” charging to juice up other phones and compatible devices by simply laying them on top of the S10+.
There’s nothing worse than when your tech conks out before you do! For this reason, it’s highly recommended to bring a portable battery booster with you on your trip to plug in your smartphone – or other tech, like wireless headphones, a smartwatch, or tablet – so you don’t have to find a wall plug when you’re out and about.
The mophie powerstation plus Dual USB Power Bank ($99; bestbuy.ca) is a 6000mAh battery that can power up a typical smartphone two or three times. In fact, it has two USB ports, and so you can juice up two products at one time, plus you’ll see small LED lights on the battery to show you when it’s time to charge up the battery again (perhaps while in a hotel room).
Apple’s latest companion device is a super thin, powerful, and gorgeous 7.9-inch touchscreen that’s perfect for travelers. Simply toss this under-a-pound iPad mini (from $529; apple.ca) in your purse, carry-on or slipped into a spring jacket pocket to take anywhere, whether it’s to curl up with a great ebook, watch TV shows from popular streaming services, read emails, shop online or play a crossword puzzle while sipping a coffee or tea.
In fact, this new iPad mini supports Apple Pencil ($129) for those who prefer to write, draw or sketch on a screen for greater precision.
Lap it Up
If you prefer to tote around a laptop, the new Dell XPS 13 (from $1199; dell.ca) may look similar to its award-winning predecessors – a 13-inch device crammed into an 11-inch body, and a nearly bezel-less 4K InfinityEdge screen – but this new model adds Dolby Vision support to its screen (for better contrast, brightness and colour reproduction), the latest Quad Core Intel processor and a new colour option (Frost White). You can choose to have a touch-enabled screen, too.
Dell has also introduced a new and teeny 2.25mm HD webcam, which is now nestled on the top of display for better placement than with previous models. The new XPS 13 recently won awards at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
(Not) Lost in Translation
Staring blankly at a Portuguese menu or Chinese road sign? If you have the Google Translate or Google Photos app installed on your iOS or Android smartphone, you won’t be left in the dark. Using augmented reality technology, simply launch the app, select Translate filter, and point the camera to some foreign words and it’ll instantly appear in English on your phone – as if magically superimposed on the real world around you.
Other features include a new Dining filter to see the most popular dishes at a particular restaurant (once you point it at the menu), while a Shopping filter can identify items like clothes and furniture.
Wham Bam, Thank You Cam
Once reserved for police vehicles and storm chasers, dashboard cameras – or dashcams, for short — are becoming a popular pastime for civilian drivers. Suctioned onto a vehicle’s windshield or mounted to a dashboard, the Garmin Dash Cam 30 ($69; bestbuy.ca) continuously records both HD (720p) video and audio from a first-person perspective, so you not only have a record of your adventures but also photographic evidence in the event of an accident or incident.
In fact, the device’s integrated sensor automatically saves and locks a file you might need to show the authorities at some point, plus since it’s a Garmin the video is GPS-stamped, too, so location information is automatically recorded.
TRAVEL TECH TIPS
To ensure a smooth trip with your tech, consider the following six tips.
1. When going through security, you’ll need to take out your laptop – as it’s likely in a backpack, briefcase, laptop bag, purse, or small carry-on suitcase — and place it in a bin for it to be scanned by TSA. You can leave all other tech in your bag while scanned at the airport, such as a smartphone, tablet, camera, or battery charger.
2. Speaking of air travel, bring your USB charger on the plane, as many airlines let you plug your smartphone into the back of the seat in front of you or in the armrest. Pro tip: If you forget your wall plug but still have your USB cable, plug it into the side of the TV in your hotel room to power it up (it works)!
3. If you’re using your phone outside of Canada, remember you’ll incur roaming fees, so contact your carrier to inquire about the best travel plan they have, or stick to Wi-Fi hotspots to pull down your messages in an airport, hotel, or coffee shop.
4. Never pay a car rental company for a GPS unit when you have your smartphone with you. If you don’t have a good data plan, Google Maps now lets you download directions to use offline.
5. When traveling overseas, it’s usually cheaper (and less aggravating) to bring various power adaptors with you opposed to buying them there. Check the voltage of your devices as you only may need an AC adaptor – to change the shape of the plug — rather than a currency converter, which costs a lot more.
6. While you should be doing it even when you don’t travel, be sure to backup important files – like irreplaceable photos, documents, and such – just in case your phone, tablet or laptop becomes lost, stolen or damaged. Take advantage of free cloud storage, such as OneDrive, Dropbox, iCloud, or Google Drive.