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Gadgets and Gear for Holiday Travel

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With the holiday season quickly approaching, now’s the time to start making your travel plans. Don’t let the stress of the road or the chaos at the airport get the best of you. Every year, portable technology gets smarter, smaller, and more popular. There are now hundreds of portable-entertainment devices, gadgets, and accessories to choose from. Finding the right product will allow you to get work done on the road and stay entertained while you travel. You’ll be able to watch what you want to watch, listen to what you want to listen to and work when you want to work. Plus, you’ll be able to return home after the holidays with plenty of family photos and home videos.

Apple Mobile Devices

The fifth-generation Apple 32GB iPod touch and seventh-generation 16GB iPod nano are both feature-rich multimedia players that are more than capable of keeping you entertained and connected during your stressful holiday sojourns. The iPod touch features a 4-inch multi-touch Retina display with 1136 x 640 resolution. It has an A5 processor, a rear 5-megapixel iSight camera with Full HD 1080p video capture, and a front FaceTime HD camera. The iPod touch also features Apple’s iOS operating system with Apple Maps, iTunes, Siri, and more. It’s equipped with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless connectivity as well. For a slightly more streamlined travel accessory, consider the seventh-generation iPod nano. The nano features a 2.5-inch Retina multi-touch display with 240 x 432 resolution. It provides built-in FM radio, Bluetooth wireless connectivity, and integrated Nike+ support.

Anyone who wants to watch movies and get some work done while traveling for the holidays should check out the Apple iPad mini, which is available with Wi-Fi only or with 4G LTE mobile broadband (AT&T and Verizon 4G LTE plans sold separately). You can choose either a 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB model. Apple has also released the improved second generation Apple iPad mini with Retina Display, which will be available from B&H towards the end of November 2013. This new mini has Apple’s 7.9-inch Retina display with 2048 x 1536 resolution. That translates to an impressive four times the image quality of its predecessor. The new mini will also feature Apple’s A7 chip and M7 motion co-processor, which will provide four times better processing performance and eight times better graphics performance.

The mini’s high-definition screen is large enough to not just watch, but enjoy movies and videos, while also being small enough to hold in one hand when reading an eBook or surfing the Web. It’s also lighter than the larger iPad, which makes it easier to travel with and easier to hold for a long period of time. Besides being the perfect travel size, the iPad mini’s built-in battery lasts up to 10 hours, so you’ll be able to stay connected and entertained during even the longest of airport layovers or flight delays this holiday season.

The mini with Retina Display will now come standard with a handful of creative and organizational apps including iPhoto, GarageBand, Pages, Numbers, and Keynote. It will also provide enhanced wireless capabilities with two antennas (instead of one) and MIMO technology. The LTE models with mobile broadband will support more LTE bands as well, which means faster connections in more places around the world. The iPad mini with Retina Display will ship with iOS7. And, Apple has redesigned the Smart Cover and Smart Case for the mini, so they’ll automatically wake when opened and go to sleep when closed. Plus, like the original iPad mini, the mini with Retina Display features a front-facing 720p FaceTime HD camera, a rear-facing 5-megapixel iSight camera and Bluetooth 4.0 wireless connectivity.

Great Headphones for Travel

In order to really get the most out of your portable MP3 player, smartphone, tablet, iPod, iPhone or iPad, a pair of comfortable, quality headphones is a necessity. The headphone industry is one of the fastest growing and most expansive areas of portable entertainment, which means there are literally hundreds of headphones to choose from. In this section, we’ve selected some of our favorite headphones for travel. If you’re going to be on a noisy plane for several hours this holiday season, it’s worth investing in a quality pair of active noise-cancelling headphones.

For the past decade Bose has been consistently improving their noise-cancelling technology and they offer a variety of models that are both quiet and comfortable. The appropriately named Bose QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones feature proprietary active noise-cancelling technology and an in-ear form factor that is both comfortable and portable. The QC20 headphones provide impressive Bose audio performance, advanced noise reduction that rivals any over-the-ear headphones, and three pairs of included proprietary StayHear+ ear tips for a precise fit. The headphones also feature an Aware mode that allows you to listen to your music while still being able to hear what’s going on around you. The Aware mode is a great feature because it can literally save your life. It might prevent you from getting hit by a car while walking around the city or from missing a flight because you can’t hear what’s going on around you. The QC20 headphones are equipped with an in-line microphone and remote that are designed to work with Android, BlackBerry, and Windows smartphones and tablets. However, there’s also a QuietComfort 20i model that’s designed for Apple iOS mobile devices including the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Both models feature the same built-in lithium-ion battery that provides up to 16 hours of active noise cancellation per charge.

Bose also offers the over-the-ear QuietComfort 15 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones, which are also equipped with active noise-cancelling technology. The QC15 headphones are powered by a single AAA battery, which affords up to 35 hours of active noise cancellation. The headphones are available in either standard silver or a fashionable slate/brown color, and they also feature the lifelike audio quality for which Bose is well known. They have soft, padded ear cushions and include two audio cables. One is a standard audio cable and the other is an advanced audio cable with an in-line microphone and remote for controlling your iPhone or iPod. The advanced cable supports hands-free calling from your iPhone as well.

Travel with Power

When you’re out on the road or waiting around the airport this holiday season, why not avail yourself of some extra power for your portable electronic devices? There is a variety of portable power choices and adapters that will keep your devices powered while you deal with layovers, inclement weather, and congested roads.

Mophie is one of the most popular manufacturers of portable power options. They make a variety of battery-equipped iPhone cases including the Juice Pack Air and Juice Pack Helium. The Juice Pack Air is made for the iPhone 4/4S and the iPhone 5. It virtually doubles the battery life of your iPhone, adding an additional eight hours of talk time or ten hours of Wi-Fi Web surfing. The thinner and more lightweight Juice Pack Helium is available for the iPhone 5 only. It provides an additional six hours of talk time or seven hours of Wi-Fi Web surfing. Both models are available in multiple colors, so you’ll be able to match the case with your personal style. The Juice Pack Air for iPhone 5 comes in black, red, or white. The Juice Pack Air for iPhone 4/4S is also available in black, red, or white. The Juice Pack Helium for iPhone 5 comes in dark metallic, red, or silver.

Another popular choice for portable power would be the Sanho HyperJuice External Batteries, which are available in varying capacities.  These HyperJuice External Batteries are compatible with all MacBook, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air laptop models. They even feature a brushed-aluminum finish that will match your MacBook’s aesthetic. Each battery features an additional high-power 10W (5V/2.1A max) USB port as well, which will charge any USB device, including your iPad or iPhone. The most powerful 222Wh HyperJuice External Battery model will allow you to use your MacBook for an additional 45 hours, and it can also extend your iPad battery life by an amazing 89 hours or fully recharge your iPhone up to 52 times. Each model features built-in short circuit, overcharging, and high-temperature protection as well.

Another Sanho portable power solution is the HyperJuice 15,600mAh Dual USB Battery Pack with Stealth Plug. It’s available in a variety of colors including black, gold, blue, green, pink, and silver. This power pack features a 15,600mAh-capacity lithium-ion battery with two high-power USB ports that are capable of charging two USB devices simultaneously. Even if you’re traveling with your significant other and you each have an iPad with you, you’ll both be able to charge them simultaneously from anywhere. The battery pack will extend your original iPad or iPad 2 battery life by an additional 23 hours. It will extend your third-generation iPad by an additional 13 hours, and you can also use it to power your iPhone up to 11 times on one charge. Plus, like the other Sanho HyperJuice batteries, this model features built-in short circuit, overcharging, and high-temperature protection.

You can also find out more about Sanho and portable power options in this article here.

Capture the Holidays with the Right Camera and Camera Bag

Although most of our smartphones today have built-in cameras, they can’t compete, quality-wise, with the sensors in even a basic point-and-shoot digital camera. If you’re going to invest in a mirrorless camera or a compact point-and-shoot digital camera for the holidays this year, consider one of the following choices.

It’s no secret that the classic-looking digital cameras are widely popular both for their vintage aesthetic and enhanced shooting performance. The Fujifilm X-Pro 1 mirrorless interchangeable-lens digital camera combines retro rangefinder styling and professional handling with a modern, 16-megaixel APS-C sensor. The sensor features a new color filter array that eliminates the need for an anti-aliasing filter. This promotes sharper images than most 16-megapxiel digital cameras would be capable of capturing. The camera accepts Fujifilm’s interchangeable X-mount lenses. It also features Full HD 1080p video capture, a hybrid multi-viewfinder, and a TTL flash-compatible hot shoe.

Anyone who wants to capture high-resolution images and also travel light should consider the compact Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-RX100 II Digital Camera. The RX100 II is built around a 20.2-megapixel Exmor R CMOS image sensor with Back Side Illumination and a Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* lens with a 28-100mm equivalent focal length and an f/1.8-4.9 aperture. It provides 3.6x optical zoom and 7.2x Clear Image digital zoom. The camera features Full HD 1080p video capture at either 60 or 24 fps. You can also capture still images using JPEG, RAW, or both file formats. The RX100 II is equipped with an Xtra Fine 3-inch LCD monitor, and it features both optical and electronic image stabilization. Some of the camera’s other features include Face Detection, several user-friendly shooting modes, a lightweight aluminum body, and a convenient pop-up flash.

The RX100 II also supports built-in wireless connectivity and NFC pairing for connecting the camera to your smartphone or tablet. This feature allows you to quickly and easily share all your images and video via social media using your mobile device—whenever you feel like it. The camera’s other features include high-speed autofocus, manual exposure control, a BIONZ image processor, a multi-interface shoe, and a manual control ring. It also supports low-light sensitivity to ISO 12800.

Panasonic’s LUMIX DMC-LF1 Digital Camera is another great option to carry with you this holiday season. It is designed with a powerful 7.1x optical zoom and user-friendly features that make it easy for even a novice photographer to capture beautiful photos and video. It features a 12.1 megapixel high-sensitivity MOS sensor, a Venus Engine image processor and a LEICA DC Vario-Summicron zoom lens with a 28-200mm equivalent focal length and a f/2 - 5.9 aperture. It also provides 14.3x intelligent zoom, 4x digital zoom, and Power Optical Image Stabilization (O.I.S.) with Active Mode. The other standout features on this model are its built-in wireless and NFC connectivity, 3-inch LCD monitor, and 1080i HD video capture at up to 60 fps.

Whether you’re heading across town to visit friends or flying across several time zones to get together with family, the right electronic gadgets in your bag can keep boredom at bay while also helping you document and share all the moments between the traveling that are worth remembering.

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