(Reuters.com) - Deciding what gadgets to pack for a trip is a bit of an art. Every day, fancy new doodads come along that promise to ease the stress of life on the road or in the air.
But as any frequent flier knows, too much stuff often makes for too much hassle. That means choosing your travel tech accessories carefully. Often it comes down to a simple question of necessity. But as the following three devices prove, that doesn't have to mean leaving everything but the clothes on your back behind.
Take the Tumi Portable Projector (<here US$395), for instance. The small, easy-to-tote pocket projector is aimed at the frequent business traveller, loath to carting a bulky laptop along for presentations. You simply connect the projector to your mobile device of choice with the provided cords -- it's compatible with the iPhone, iPods, laptops and most video-enabled MP3 players -- mount it on the mini-tripod that's included, and it's ready to project crisp, high-resolution images and videos up to 60 inches in diameter with little to no technical hassle.
Jonathan Spira, chief analyst at New York-based IT advisory firm Basex, flies two or three times a month for work and considers the Tumi projector one of his go-to travel gadgets. In addition to being simple to use in meetings and lightweight, Spira said he also has a lot of fun with the projector, setting it up on long flights to project movies onto the wall of the plane. "I feel like charging admission to the other passengers who wander by," he joked. Just make sure you're able to dim the lights before you start the movie; according to some reviews, the display can be hard to see unless you're in a darkened space.
For those who do business in far-flung corners of the globe, another gadget worth making room for is a handheld translation device. There's no shortage of models out there to choose from. Franklin's 12-Language Speaking Global Translator (<here>, $229.95) seems like a good bet, given that it, well, speaks to you. To get a translation, you type in the word you need in your first language on the pull-out QWERTY keyboard -- say "taxi" or "hotel", if you speak English -- choose from a list of suggested words and phrases that match your word and the device reads out the translation in the language you seek in a recorded human voice, while displaying it in both tongues on its seven-line LCD screen. You may run into some words the translator doesn't know. Of the 450,000 words packed onto the device, it can only say about 115,000. Also, though the translator can speak 12,000 full phrases that are pre-packaged in its memory bank under categories such as 'dining' and 'emergencies', it isn't able to translate phrases and word combos that you enter yourself.
Smartly though, Franklin has included a voice-recording feature that lets you record and store other words and custom phrases you may learn on your travels and use frequently, so you're not stuck twisting your tongue every time you go to greet a client. Sure, the translator may lack the ‘wow' factor of an iPhone translation app such as Word Lens, which can convert written text to and from Spanish and English simply by pointing the smartphone's camera at it. But it's still a more powerful tool at this point, boasting translations to and from 12 languages instead of just two. The translator knows Mandarin Chinese, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.
Of course, all these gadgets you're carrying around will eventually run out of juice. That's why it's smart to bring along a portable charger. There's been a surge in such devices over the past few years, with power mats leading the charge. The Zip, Touch-n-go (<here>, US$69), which will be released by The Joy Factory in April, is a new take on the multi-device charger. Instead of laying your gadgets on the pad as with many chargers, you connect them to ultra-short, tangle-proof cords equipped with rounded magnetic charging nubs on the end, and these slide snugly into small crevices on the mini-surfboard shaped charger's glossy-black surface. The direct connection means there's zero power loss during the charging process and that your smartphone, Bluetooth speakers and camera can all be charged in a jiff.
(Editing by Peter Myers)
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