Chargers and portable power solutions are perennial favourites on lists like this, and they will only become more common in the future. They are the gadgets that support all the other gadgets, but funnily enough many of them seem designed to do nothing but sit at the bottom of a cavernous suitcase, unwieldy when you do finally dig them out for use. The PowerCup brings user-friendly design into the mix, shaping the charger like an average coffee cup. This means that your power solution can fit into any standard cup holder, so it can stay in easy reach both before and during use.
Driving in a foreign city is always a chore, and probably the worst places to drive are major freeways. Missing an exit can set you back an astonishing amount of time, and poor signage combines with extreme speeds to make it virtually impossible to find what you’re looking for. The iExit smartphone app, for iOS and Android, keeps a detailed list of all off-ramp attractions, from food to shopping to bathroom facilities. Keep it running as you speed down the highway, and you’ll never pass your exit again.
Take your whole library with you. The major technological breakthrough in e-Ink, as far as travel is concerned, is battery life; when an e-Ink screen displays a static image it uses no power at all. As a result, many people get through whole reading-centric vacations without ever having the charge the battery. For the voracious readers whose packs have traditionally been stuffed with novel upon airport novel, there are few things that will improve efficiency in packing more than an e-reader.
Olloclip iPhone camera lens
By far the biggest reason that smartphones don’t have the best cameras on the market is lens technology. The internal computers are much, much more powerful than those in even high-end digital cameras, and the software is often far more advanced as well. The problem is simply that lenses, even telescopic lenses, are big, and certainly far too big to be built into increasingly slim and light-weight smartphones. And yet, if all we’re missing is a lens, why not just snap one on? The Olloclip provides just that, a large physical lens for bending the light from your pictures into the photocell. The newest version allows Fisheye, Wide Angle, and Macro lens functionality in just the humble little iPhone camera.
No matter how married to technology you have become, there are always times when you need a pen. Carrying one is easy enough, but the problem comes when you need to actually use it. Given that most of the people who will require you to use a pen are officials, you’ll almost never have the luxury of smacking your pen against your palm – “Sorry, I didn’t want to pay more than 50 cents…” Avoid this scenario by purchasing a so-called Space Pen, an ink pen with a pressurized ink cartridge that keeps the ink ready at the tip, regardless of angle. Store the pen or even write with it while upside down, or in zero gravity.
Noise Cancelling Headphones
These aren’t earplugs. These are sophisticated headphones or earbuds that pick up incoming sounds and fill your ear with the frequencies needed to cancel them out. It’s not flawless, but the technology is an absolute godsend when a baby sets out to keep you from sleeping on a plane. They do best with repetitive or continuous noises, the whine of a plane’s engines for instance, but the chatter of a crowded coffee house can be dulled almost as effectively. Pop these babies on and zone out for good. There are a wealth of options available, but price tends to have more to do with the audio quality than the noise cancelling ability. If all you’re looking for is some help zoning out, there’s no need to break the bank.
Kodak PlaySport, GoPro HD Hero 2
So you bought a brand new digital camera – good for you! The problem is that you took it to the beach, then on a hike, and then slopped ketchup on it. Now the lens is gummed with sand, the display buzzes because of a couple of unfortunate drops, and the shutter is clogged with tomato. If only you’d bought a camera appropriate to your uses for it. The Kodak PlaySport camera is one example of such a rugged capture device, along with the GoPro HD Hero 3. The PlaySport is a waterproof number that bills itself as virtually indestructible, while the GoPro features a hardy stand attachment that lets you mount it virtually anywhere. For capturing difficult or just plain camera-threatening footage, make sure you use the right equipment.
Water-poof, drop-proof, dust-proof, crush-proof; that’s Otterbox’s motto. So much of modern life revolves around a little pocket computer called a smartphone, and the Otterbox makes sure that tool is always in working condition. Pop your communicator into an OtterBox protective case and rest easy that the most indispensable of your electronics could be dropkicked into a whirlpool, and come out just fine.
Y-cam home monitor
Nothing can ruin a vacation like anxiety about home, but the traditional solutions can get a bit pricy – housesitters aren’t cheap! The webcam revolution made it somewhat easier to check in, but the live feed was only useful if you happened to tap in precisely when something nefarious was going on. Now, the Y-cam Home Monitor can automatically record movement for you to watch later, while you travel. Set one up near the front door and you’ll be the first to know if anyone approaches your home while you’re away. Just hook it up to your wifi network before you leave, and it’s viewable 24/7 from any computer or smartphone, anywhere in the world.
In the age where storage has dipped well below a dollar per gigabyte, nobody should ever be running out of storage. However, it’s easy enough to fill a small camera memory card with large, high-resolution photography files, and the process of emptying one onto your computer hard drive can be time consuming. Now, Eye-Fi has designed a memory card with built in wifi capability, so it can automatically upload your photos to a remote server, or even to a web service like Facebook! Never run out of a space again – but if you do, this memory will make it that much harder to care.