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Posts Tagged electronics

Sony Cyber-Shot Digital Camera Tx30

The Sony Cyber-Shot Tx30 is the absolute best point-and-shoot camera I’ve ever owned. Yes, I have a DSLR that I bring on professional trips because, well, it makes me look like I know what I’m doing, but when given the choice, I absolutely always reach for the Cyber-Shot. Of course, any point-and-shoot compact camera is going to be lighter and smaller than a DSLR, ideal for those on-the-go moments when you need a camera that will fit in your pocket, but the Cyber-Shot Tx30 goes far beyond convenience. It offers high quality images, but more importantly to me, it is absolutely, completely indestructible.

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Sony describes the Cyber-Shot Tx30 as ‘certified waterproof, rustproof, shockproof, and freeze proof’ and they are not kidding. I have taken mine everywhere from snorkeling with whale sharks to sandy beaches to ski trips, and it has never failed me. It’s been in the hands of both preschoolers and teenagers, both demographics known for hard use of electronic items. It’s very user-friendly, with an easy-to-navigate touch screen that I can still see in bright sunlight, and turns on and off with a slide of the front panel, rather than at the touch of a button (easier to manage with gloves or while underwater). If your travels will be taking you outdoors in any capacity, this is the point-and-shoot that needs to be in your pocket.

Here’s the nitty-gritty (aka, why your photos will turn out startlingly well): the Cyber-Shot Tx30 has 18.2 megapixels, takes 1080/6oi video, and a 5x optical soon. It also has something called a 10x Clear Image zoom, but I have to admit I don’t know what that means. Sounds fancy.

I took the Cyber-Shot on a five day river rafting expedition, during which I was the only person to take out his or her camera on the water. Yes, all the DSLRs along for that trip took excellent shots of sunsets and cookouts, but they were packed carefully away on the rapids. What’s the point of bringing a camera you can’t use? My Cyber-Shot was on my wrist the entire five days, and I could use it everywhere, from a video selfie jumping off cliff rocks into the river to recording Class IV rapids from the vantage point of a kayak.

Here’s an example of video taken entirely with the Cyber-Shot:

Pick one up at Sony for $259 or get a deal on Amazon for $227. The Cyber-Shot comes in fun colors ranging from bright orange to pink, blue, or black.

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Osprey Cyber Port Daypack for Travel

It’s hard to go wrong with an Osprey pack. If I had to pick–absolutely had to–I think I’d rate Osprey as my overall favorite backcountry adventure and ski pack choice. That said, until introduced the the Portal Series, I’d never considered using an Osprey pack as a carry-on backpack or laptop bag.  The Osprey Cyber Port backpack is tough yet streamlined, and stylish while still classic.

Osprey-Cyber-PortWith its sleek panel-loading design, I understood right away that the Cyber Port’s function is ease-of-access to electronic devices, not maximum load capacity or even multiple attachment options like other Ospreys. There are three compartments: one main compartment, one small top compartment for keys or a phone (like many Osprey bags offer) and one outside ‘port window’ panel. This last compartment is really two, but since the inner and outer both work in tandem to create a space for a tablet, I’m counting it as one.

After wrapping my mind around the fact that this Osprey performs an entirely different function than its outdoorsy cousins, my next question was: as a travel carry-on and laptop pack, does it deliver? Why use it instead of my trusty messenger bag? The answer I came up with: because it’s an Osprey. The bag is exceptionally well-made, and I know it’s not going to fall apart on me. The brushed poly fabric is gorgeous, and like all Ospreys, the design is super smart. While other Osprey bags focus on usability in the backcountry, the Cyber Port focuses on usability while commuting, and does it well. Inside the main compartment, you get a fully lined and padded laptop sleeve, plus a great organizer panel with an interior zippered pocket, mesh pockets, a key fob, and plenty of small envelopes for zip drives, memory cards, and small cameras.

The small top pocket is the perfect size for my small wallet, or could fit a cell phone, keys, or a point-and-shoot camera. The outer panel zips all the way down to reveal a tablet pocket with an transparent sleeve, allowing travelers to use the iPad or other tablet without needing to remove it from the sleeve (by use of a port). This is the only design element that’s kind of a stretch for me: after using the backpack on several plane trips, I never felt the need to use this. It was all too easy to store my iPad in the sleeve, and simply retrieve it when I wanted it. Perhaps travelers would use this feature if they needed to access their tablet in a hurry in train stations or airports while checking directions or websites, and yes, I might play a movie for my kids while leaving the tablet in the sleeve, but for what it’s worth, this feature has not been crucial for me yet.

It helps to see the Cyber Port in action: check out this video by Osprey for a closer look. Perhaps the people in this video are simply more hip than me, and you’ll find more use for the tablet port than I do.

The backpack straps are padded, and while the pack isn’t ventilated with a mesh panel, I haven’t found I miss this feature. There’s a sternum strap, and all the zippers include handy pull tabs. I do wish a water bottle pocket had been designed on one side of the pack. The Cyber Port is 18 x 12 x 8, and the laptop sleeve measures 13.5 x 6 x 1. If you’re looking for a daily commuter bag or a travel carry-on daypack, you’ve found it. Pick one up at Amazon for $99. You can also find it at Backcountry or REI. It comes in black pepper, chestnut brown, pinot red, and grey herringbone.

See reviews of other travel daypacks here. Keep up on the latest practical travel gear by following this blog on Facebook, Twitter, or RSS. 

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Razor Keeper

Traveling these days has never been more demeaning, and the TSA is the worst to blame. Sure, security concerns are always paramount, but there must be a more consumer-friendly way to pass travelers through an airport. Stripping travelers to their socks and parading their toiletries through transparent plastic bags for all to see is not the best option.

For now, we are stuck with it. Personally, I use an electric razor, but carry a disposable razor as a backup. Throwing it into my plastic bag is sometimes hazardous as reaching into the bag on short notice can cut my fingers if the plastic barrier has fallen off. That’s not to mention how the razor can dull with exposure to the elements or how dirty security agent hands are often pilfering through my personal toiletry case at a moment’s notice before I can stop and ask them to don a plastic glove before fondling my toothbrush with the same hand that just grabbed someone’s dirty sandals.

This clever Razor Keeper provides that one extra layer of protection that your skin needs, especially for travelers who endure long-haul flights leaving their skin dry and vulnerable.

The small plastic case is affordable and designed to hold a standard disposable razor. It features a small air pocket at the base to provide ventilation that will allow your razor to last longer for effective use and prevent mold from forming if it were damp from use.

It has a snap-latch closure that allows it to seal easily, but without issue for reopening later. This innovative product is not a necessity, but certainly an affordable luxury for those that value their skin and prefer not to waste money on endless disposable razors. It is available on Razor Keeper’s website and on Amazon for around $15. I found this distinctive product to be quite refreshing to a problem that I often was concerned about, but had little alternative to fixing.

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Motorola Whisper Bluetooth Wireless Headset

Motorola headsetWhile I am often the first to laugh at people who walk around public areas “talking to themselves,” there is great freedom that comes with these Bluetooth wireless headsets that allow you to keep both hands free while talking on the phone. It is especially important for those who make phone calls in the car. Personally, I think it is impolite to wander around a public place shouting into a phone or headset, but that is another issue.

The Motorola Whisper Bluetooth Wireless headset offers a crisp sound that requires little need to shout or ask for things to be repeated. My standard iPhone has poor sound quality, and this wireless headset is a great alternative to access a clearer sound while also gaining an extra hand. For people who use this device outside, it has a unique ability to cut out excess background wind noise and reduce echoes. I also found this especially helpful when using this while driving as sound can sometimes be an issue using Bluetooth in my car.

An adjustable microphone also helps to direct the sound clearly. When traveling, I appreciated that there is a six-hour battery life, which is typically more than enough time needed between charging opportunities.

Many of my colleagues use other devices instead of iPhones, and the Whisper connects to any Bluetooth-capable device including Androids, laptops, or tablets. The headset fits snugly in your ear without being bothersome or too tight. It is small, sleek, and hardly noticeable since it is not as bulky as some other in-ear headsets.

Accepting a call was easy as the button was well-positioned for quick access even when distracted walking or doing something else. For the first time ever in using a Bluetooth device, I had zero problem setting it up and maintaining a signal. In the past, I have lost the signal occasionally with my Bluetooth connections when using iPad keyboards, for example. This was surprisingly easy to set up from the moment I removed it from the box.

It takes up little room in my briefcase, and it even has the surprise benefit of allowing me to ward off would-be seatmate conversation starters since people think I may be on a call!

The headset retails for $149.99 on Motorola’s website or a little less at Amazon and makes a great holiday gift.

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Crumpler Karachi Outpost Camera Pack

karachi outpost

In the world of camera bags, Crumpler’s Karachi Outpost  is like every other bag’s better looking, cooler cousin. The retro rucksack style of the small and large sized Outpost sports a soft, brushed twill fabric, warm colors, and fun accents (oddly, the medium has a more urban, sleeker look). But while it looks as though its all about appearances, the Karachi is very practical as well…a welcome surprise. That brushed fabric I mentioned? It’s all-weather and water resistant. The cargo flap pockets? Each has a purpose. Hidden from view? A padded 11-inch Macbook Air or tablet pocket and detachable tripod holder.

The Karachi is extremely comfortable to wear, even when loaded with camera gear and accessories. You get nine storage ‘zones’, with a total of 31 L of space in the main compartment, plus an extendable drawstring-closure hood. The main compartment is divided into 12 separate spaces defined by adjustable velcro ‘walls’ and four elastic straps. This is ‘build your own camera compartments’ at its best: it’s possible to customize your space to suit.

The hood pocket (that’s the drawstring closure one) is fully lined, which makes it the convenient location for your sunglasses. Also handy: a stow-able, elastic rain cover that’s easy to access. You get two side stuff pockets for that grab-and-go stuff you need at the ready, and a front cargo pocket with an internal mesh pocket (maybe for memory cards or extra batteries).

When I loaded up the Karachi, I easily fit a DSLR, modest telephoto lens, and numerous additional lenses, flash, and filters. The superior construction and double-stitching was evident right away as I hefted the pack up and onto my back. I loved the equipment walls: they are definitely of superior construction to what I’ve experienced in the past. They do a great job of holding the camera and lenses in place while the pack is in motion (on your back).

Karachi OutpostI already noted how comfortable the Karachi is to wear. This is because of the extra features you don’t usually see on a camera bag (but do see on quality backpacking gear): a length-adjusting harness, vented back padding, and Air Mesh shoulder padding. The chest belt/sternum strap is adjustable and removable.

My only caveat: The Karachi’s main compartment is rear-entry. Some might consider this a plus, but I don’t like the necessity of taking the pack all the way off every time I want access to my camera. Call me lazy.

If you want to pick up a Karachi, you have three size options, as noted above. The large has a width of 38 cm/15 inches and height of 52 cm/20.5 inches. It comes in three color options: a beautiful deep blue, a bright orange, and an olive green. You really can’t go wrong. The small is a few inches shorter and leaner. Grab the large for $265 or the small for $215. Available also on Amazon for the same price.

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