I know the summer travel season is still a couple of weeks away. But I’ve been thinking ahead, and have spent the last few months looking at a wide array of interesting new products designed to help you make the most out of your upcoming adventures.
In this installment, I’ll focus on some of my favorite new high-tech toys, all of which probably offer significant advantages over what you’re using now at surprisingly affordable prices:
Olympus 1030SW Digital Camera:
Here’s an immutable law of nature you’ll do well to remember this summer: Water and digital cameras do not mix. Unless of course we’re talking about the Olympus 1030SW. I’ve taken this easily pocketable 10.1-megapixel point-and-shoot on a long list of adventures over the past few months and put its seemingly outrageous claims—that it’s waterproof down to 33 feet and can withstand drops from more than 6 feet—to the test snorkeling with manatees, bouncing along on a Mardi Gras float, and more. Picture and video quality are pretty darn good by point-and-shoot standards, but it’s the freedom it offers to take pix wherever and wherever you choose that has earned it a place in my carry-on this summer.
Apple iPod Touch
I know, I know, the iPhone is the must-have gadget right now. But what if you’re like me and have a cell phone service provider you’re happy with? Enter the iPod Touch, which offers many of the iPhone’s coolest features without requiring you to switch carriers. The 16GB iPod Touch I’ve been testing for the past several months pairs substantial storage capacity with a large, bright screen that’s actually big enough to enjoy movies and TV shows in flight. Back on the ground, the built-in wi-fi access allows me to check my email, surf the web, listen to my favorite internet radio stations, and more. And then there are all the free and bargain-priced add-on applications offered in the iTunes Store—so many that if you can’t find an app there that does what you want to do, well, you probably don’t need to do it. Highly recommended.
Magellan Maestro 4250 Navigation System
Wherever your travels take you this summer, sooner or later you’re going to need directions. While I’m old-school enough that I still occasionally pack the trusty AAA maps and Tourbooks I’ve relied on for years, Magellan’s Maestro line of portable GPS navigation systems has made the printed versions largely obsolete. Units like the Maestro 4250 I’ve been testing cram top-quality maps of the U.S. and Canada and all the lodging and restaurant info contained in those AAA Tourbooks into a package that’s small enough to slip into a shirt pocket. What really sets this unit apart from many other GPS units I’ve tested, however, is the big, easy-to-read 4.3-inch color LCD touch-screen and the intuitive user interface that makes its many features super-easy to, ahem, navigate.
NEXT TIME: Low-tech products you don’t wanna leave home without.