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Gadgets for the Traveler

recently traveled to the West Coast and to prepare myself for my flights, I decided to pack some portable electronic entertainment.

After placing my cellular phone into my laptop bag, I tried to decide what music player would be best to take with me. Although the iPod is a great product, for this trip I opted to take with me my MSI Multi stick. In one small package, this device works as an MP3 music player, a USB Memory drive, a voice recorder, and an FM Radio. I listened to the music I brought with me while waiting to board the plane but I did discover a limitation in-flight. Once in the air (and the ‘seat belt light has been turned off’) I found the radio portion to be limited. After I finally found a station that I liked, the station was suddenly out of range. I guess that’s bound to happen at 847 kilometers per hour.

How did I know how fast we were going? I brought my portable GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) device with me. The one I use is the Garmin iQue (http://www.garmin.com/products/iQue3600/) and I like it because it doubles as my Palm device as well, keeping track of my telephone numbers and my schedule. I was able to open the antenna and put it up close to the window and actually lock onto the satellites. The device gives you not only your speed but actually shows your movement across a map. This technology is not new—this is what the planes use when they show it on the displays, but the difference is that those are usually only for international flights. These devices are intended to be used with cars and I must admit that I enjoyed watching it try to ‘lock’ my position to a road. The real value of bringing the Garmin with me however came much later when we rented a car and I had it direct us to a restaurant, some shopping destinations, and then ultimately back to the hotel – all by the shortest distance.

Although you can watch the in-flight movie with the inexpensive headphones they provide, I found the quality to be somewhat lacking. Using a noise canceling headphone with an airplane adapter, such as the one found at http://www.proheadphones.com/ could be just the answer you are looking for. The noise canceling part is great to drown out the person snoring to your left or the person behind you that just can’t quite seem to clear their throat.

Great headphones won’t save you from a bad movie or one you’ve already seen however. So now it was time to pull out a portable DVD player. These have come down greatly in price and you can get them in various sizes with various features. This was an opportunity to use those higher quality headphones again and these are much smaller than a laptop (and usually lighter) making it easier in the limited space you might have around your seat. These players are also great for the back of the car on those long road trips and can even act as a small television to hook up your game console to.

After the movie was over I found myself looking for something more interactive, so I pulled out my Nintendo Gameboy DS. This portable gaming system, like Sony’s new PSP, will keep you occupied for hours. With such a huge library of available games there is bound to be something that appeals to you. I recommend getting a travel case for yours to protect it, and be very careful that you don’t leave it in the back of the seat in front of you on your way off the aircraft.

These gadgets will occupy your time on those longer flights and you may even find that you get some strange looks while passing through the security scanner. For my return flight, I prepared everything as best I could; batteries were charged, the DVD player was pre-loaded and my music was ready to go. Since you aren’t allowed to turn on any electronic devices until you are well in the air, I pulled out a book and started reading. I ended up falling asleep for most of the flight. It’s a good reminder that sometimes, low tech works just as well.

Article Copyright ©2005 by Syd Bolton. Original publication date: 6/11/2005.
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