Posts Tagged electronics
If you’re thinking about upgrading from your standard dime a dozen earbuds, but don’t want a pair of headphones you have to treat with kid gloves while traveling, you’re going to want to get your hands (and ears) on a pair of SOL REPUBLICs. At a starting price of just south of $100 for the Sol Republic Tracks and $129 for their HD counterpart, SOLs are not cheap, but they are indestructible.
Not sure you believe that? I wasn’t sure I did either, so I gave a pair each to my tween and teen sons. Yeah, ’nuff said. They stuffed their Sol Republic Tracks in their gym bags, packed them into duffels (then jumped on them to zip them closed), let their friends borrow them, and kept them in their school backpacks. They could do all this because Tracks use advanced polymer compound in their FlexTech headband. This means you can twist it or bend it, and it won’t break. Dropping it is ok, too, and even stepping on it. It’s not that I recommend doing any of these things, but you know, they happen.
The other great feature of Tracks is their interchangeability. Because each speaker slides onto the headband (and off), you can easily adjust the sizing and even exchange speakers with another Sol Republic owner. The cables are interchangeable too, and each come with a mic control and volume control button.
The SonicSoft speaker pads are soft on the ear, extra-wide, and form a secure enough seal that they do a good job blocking out outside noise. I also like that the interior side of the headband is padded where it touches your head. With each Tracks headphones, you also get a nice carrying case.
Tracks vs. HD Tracks:
So what’s the difference between the Sol Republic Tracks and the HD Tracks (besides $30)? Sound quality, though you certainly won’t be complaining with the cheaper Tracks model. The HD version boasts V10 DH sound engines for deeper bass and higher vocal clarity. The Tracks model sports V8. Both comes with a 1,000 day guarantee.
I won’t profess to know my way around stereo sound like I know my way around a backpack or bike, but I will say this: the first time I heard my favorite playlist courtesy of the Tracks speakers, my jaw dropped. I didn’t think it could sound better than that…until I changed out for the HD for a quick comparison. Yes, even better.
Which to buy:
Both models are virtually identical with two exceptions, one major and one minor. The major exception is the aforementioned sound quality of V8 vs V10. We didn’t mind the V8 at all while listening to music, but we watch a lot of DVDs and TV shows while traveling, using our iPad or iPods, and we did appreciate the HD sound for quieter dialogue. The minor: the HD version’s headphones are glossy, whereas the regular Tracks are matte. The HD’s speakers are metallic and the Tracks are black. In my opinion, for $30, the HD version is worth the splurge.
If you want to get an even higher-end version, check out SOL REPUBLIC’s full offerings.
Pick up Tracks or Tracks HD at SOL REPUBLIC for $99 and $129 respectively. Tracks HD come in black, blue, red, purple, white, and grey, and Tracks come in red, white, and black. Find them for a few bucks less at Amazon.
Minimizing weight and heft in my carryon-only travel bags is a priority for me especially since many overseas airlines have a nasty habit of weighing even hand bags that can easily be more than 12 pounds if you are carrying a laptop and books or magazines. This new travel razor reduces the charging cord of my traditional razor and is also slimmer and more lightweight itself as well. It is the size and shape of an iPhone and can even fit handily in your back pocket.
The pocket-size nature is great to slide in a side pocket of a briefcase or in your jacket or pants pocket for a quick shave to catch a five o’clock shadow before an important meeting. Long-haul travelers are all too familiar with minor stubble after a long-haul flight that does not warrant a full shave. A once-over with this razor can do the trick in an airplane lavatory or airport bathroom in seconds. No cords to haul around, and no one would even know what it is unless they look closely.
It charges via USB meaning that you can charge it from your laptop while working on the plane or in your hotel room freeing up one electrical outlet. Those can sometimes be hard to come by in older hotels or while waiting in an airport terminal (much less on an airplane). It can also be plugged into an adaptor and charged in a normal wall plug.
While the razor foil itself may not be as wide or large as bulkier razors, it does the trick after a few extra strokes. The space it saves is more than worth it for a few extra seconds of shaving. The smooth blade cover leaves your face free from abrasions and can be cleaned with the small brush. It comes with its own soft pouch for storage so that pesky small hairs do not end up on your paperwork or other baggage contents.
A four-hour charge yields a half hour of use or the equivalent of four or five shaves. This excellent travel accessory is available at the ShaveTech website or Amazon for less than $40 and makes a great gift for business travelers.
What was the best travel gear of the year? Which were the most interesting travel clothing items, shoes, gadgets, and bags?
We review a useful piece of travel gear or outdoor clothing each weekday. Taking out a few holidays here and there, that’s close to 250 items in the course of a year. We keep on using a lot of them after we’ve posted the review, seeing how well they hold up and how useful they are in our frequent jaunts around the country and the globe. Here’s what stood out for us in 2012, in the writers’ own words.
Ramsey Qubein’s Business Travel Gear Favorites
I love my Able Planet Clear Harmony noise-reducing headphones. They are affordable, lightweight, and come in a great, sturdy carrying case with an airplane adapter. When used to plug into audio channels or for watching videos on an airplane or with my laptop, the sound quality is impeccable proving they were worth taking up the valuable space in my carry-on.
Dressing up and dressing down is often a challenge too, but my Bostonian travel shoes from Clarks make that task easy. The loafers are easy to slip on and off at security and on the plane, and pounding the big-city pavement in these shoes is very comfortable.
My Briggs & Riley carry-on bag expands when I overstuff it, but still fits easily into overhead bins of most planes (I still dread those regional jets as much as you). This Baseline suitcase is great for business travelers because it supports folded suits well while also providing easy-to-access pockets on the outside.
When I do get time off, the Sierra Designs Frequency jacket has surprisingly proven a sharp favorite because I can scrunch it up into a tight corner of my bag, wrap it around my waist, or wear it anytime I am in cool weather without it being too bulky. Plus, the stylish accent colors on the black, zip-up jacket are attractive in almost any setting.
Amy Whitley’s Best Outdoor and Family Gear Bests
The Osprey Aura-50 literally saved my neck on a four-day backpacking trek last July, earning it a place on my list of top travel gear for 2012. What sets the Aura-50 apart from other backpacks is its customization: with plenty of ways to adjust the pack and harness, it will fit you correctly, reducing neck and back pain as you hike with heavy loads.
I reach for the Aventura 2-in-1 dress more often than any other item of travel clothing. It’s a halter dress and a skirt, and can be dressed up or down. Put it over a swimsuit or take it out on the town.
I use my Haiki Hobo 2 bag every single day, and it shows literally no wear. Plus, it’s made of recycled materials, so I can feel good as well as look good.
Our whole family now wears Polarmax technical base layers. What I love: they’re high quality without the high price. These base layers are no-frills goodness.
Tim Leffel’s Globetrotting Traveler Gear Picks
It’s getting harder each year to find something truly unique and groundbreaking, so this Camelback All Clear stood out for solving a huge plastic bottle garbage problem in a unique way. Using a similar technology to the SteriPen (a perennial favorite), this water bottle purifies any tap water you put inside it. I’ve used it in five countries where you can’t drink the water normally, and everything was “all clear” in the health of me and my family.
The item I probably used the most this year was a simple one: the Eagle Creek packable daypack. The company gave these away at the Adventure Travel Summit last year and every well-traveled delegate I’ve met since is still using it and raving about it. It packs down tiny in any bag, but is strong enough to be a functional daypack for sightseeing.
I was thrilled to see more companies putting out lightweight, easy-to-pack travel shoes this year. I liked all of them and have used the Teva Mush Frio ones the most, but these Timberland Camp Shoes that zip in half win the innovation prize. The only ones all year that made my 12-year-old say “That’s so cool!” Honorable mention to Wolverine for their adjustable disk to customize rugged hiking shoes for different feet and situations.
It’s been hard to avoid hearing about P^Cubed Pants if you’re someone who reads travel blogs or magazines, or checks out the SkyMall catalog even. The Pick Pocket Proof Pants scream “backpacker” in the original style (fine for real adventures), but the business pants are nice enough to wear to meetings, while still making sure you won’t get pickpocketed walking from one place to the next in Rome.
The gadget I loved at first use has been with me on every long trip since: the Innergie 3-in-1 PocketCell Travel Charger pictured at the top of this post. I know I can get on a flight across an ocean and still have power when I arrive for my Android cell phone or fast-draining iPod Touch. And the same cord works for both.
Last, a shout-out to Microsoft for finally creating a mobile interface that doesn’t make people want to throw their devices across the room. Their tile system on Windows phones and the new Windows 8/RT operating system for tablets is terrific, making the home screen interactive and informative at a glance. And hey, you can surf Flash sites and use Windows Office programs to get real work done, meaning you don’t have to carry a tablet and a laptop on business.
Jill Robinson’s Outdoor and Active Gear Favorites
A lot of my travel this year has focused on outdoor adventures, and it’s not always easy for me to find clothing that I’d be happy to use on nearly every trip. But once I do, I’m a loyal girl. The ExOfficio Nomad Skirt is not only comfortable and stylish, it dries super quick—which is optimal when you pack so light that you rely on evening hotel room sink laundry sessions. Also, for those of us who abhor having to use an iron on a regular basis, it’s wrinkle resistant.
Similarly, the Isis Rim Rock Short is something that gets tossed in my bag almost every time. The shorts are lightweight, durable, wrinkle resistant, and rugged yet cute enough to wear on city streets without getting weird looks.
The Eddie Bauer BC-200 Hard Shell Jacket is my go-to storm jacket for my travels. It protects me from the wind and rain, but it doesn’t take up much of my valuable suitcase space.
I test wheeled, carry-on suitcases out all the time, and while I like many of them, I’ve used the Gregory Cache 22 Suitcase for most of my trips this year. The wide handle allows me to pack my clothing flat, and the oversize wheels help me manage a variety of terrain without the bag spinning out.
The item that’s made the cut into my everyday life is the LifeProof iPhone Case. Not just for travel, it keeps my phone dry and protected from falls without adding bulk. It’s great when I’m on the water, in the snow, in dusty places, and even when I’m around kids or other folks who spill a lot.
How about you? What did you pick up in the past year that you couldn’t bear to part with now?
In my carry-on bag, there is often little remaining space for bulky noise reduction headphones meaning I am left to rely on the cheap pairs provided by airlines or nothing at all. While many people eschew the idea of splurging on headphones that only soften the inevitable noise that not even Bose can quiet, Able Planet comes to the rescue yet again with more headphones like the SI350 and SI210 pairs that are both affordable and functional in squashing surrounding sound. Able Planet has crated an interesting video that shows how Able Planet can even soften sound in the same or better way than a pair of Bose headphones!
Able Planet features its own LINX Audio sound quality system that preserves the original harmonics of sound and music while blocking out excess exterior noise. The soft ear cover makes it comfortable to wear even when trying to rest on one’s side or use while jogging. Able Planet has its own ComfortFit sound isolation tips that keep out exterior noise, and there are three differing sizes meant to meet differing individual ear’s shapes.
They weigh very little, which is of extreme importance to frequent international travelers who have been forced to weigh even their carry-on bags at check-in and boarding gates. This is the primary reason why I avoid carrying larger pairs of headphones on international trips because they both take up space and weight allotment.
A multi-function controller with microphone and play and pause features allows travelers to use these as a telephone device as well as noise-reducing headphones with play and pause technology. They also work for runners who want to work up a sweat since the wraparound earpiece keeps the moisture from sticking to the hardware. The earphones are compatible with iPhones, iPods, and other similar devices.
The Gosmart Clip for smart phones is a truly nifty little gadget small enough to accompany you on any trip. Because it’s so versatile (and almost everyone has a smart phone these days) the Gosmart also makes for a great stocking stuffer. What is it? The Gosmart is a simple plastic clip with adjustable fastener that keeps your hands free while using your smart phone for a variety of purposes. The Gosmart fits phones between 4″ to 5″ tall and less than 0.75″ thick. (It fits my iPhone 4 perfectly, and can also adjust to fit my husband’s Android.)
The Gosmart is both a clip and a mount: you can use it to prop up your phone to watch a video, for instance, but can also attach it to just about anything. I’ve used it most to attach my phone to the outside of my backpack or purse while traveling for easy access when safe to do so, and I’ve attached it to the handlebars of my bike to use the GPS while riding. The manufacturer suggests mounting it on a car steering wheel for easy GPS use, but I found this to be too distracting. (In fact, my husband was terrified at the mere thought of me doing this, given how distracted I already am while driving.) At home, I’ve also loved using the Gosmart clip to mount my phone on shopping cart handles to easily access my shopping list, and if my kids were still stroller-aged, I’d be clipping it on the stroller handle while traveling for sure.
The Gosmart is very small, lightweight, and easy to keep in your purse or bag. It can travel wherever with you, and I’m sure I’ve only scratched the surface of its uses. The strap securing the clip to a surface is adjustable for a snug fit, and it’s easy to slide the clip to different lengths to secure your phone. If you need to answer your phone while it’s attached, it’s simple to unstrap it but answer while it’s still wearing the clip. Of course, if you’re using it on your car steering wheel, you could simply answer hands-free.
Pick up a Gosmart at Amazon for under $24. I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t be happy to see it in their stocking.