- October 5th 2011
Here on the blog, we’ve been running an occasional series on best travel gadgets. One of the recent travel accessories featured was my Amazon Kindle. But with the recent launch of 4 new Kindles (including a tablet), does my own Kindle suddenly look less shiny? Let’s have a look at the new options.
First of all, the Kindle 3 is now the Kindle Keyboard, with Wi-Fi and 3G versions – no particular appeal there, except the graphite finish and the slightly smaller size and weight than my Kindle 2. These also hold 3,500 books and are priced at $99 and $139. Not much change either to the Kindle DX, as far as I can see.
Then there’s the Kindle, an entry level Wi-Fi Kindle with a 5-way controller and no keyboard. If you’ve already got a Kindle, I don’t see the point, as it holds fewer books and has a one month battery life, but at less than 6 ounces the weight is appealing and you can’t argue with a $79 price tag.
Then there’s the Kindle Touch, the cheapest new Kindle with its new touchscreen interface. I have to admit this one appeals. Compared to my Kindle 2, these have a longer 2 month battery life, are lighter at 7.5 ounces for Wi-fi and 7.8 ounces for Wi-Fi plus 3G), hold more books (3,000) and will stop me from ever having to click again. I’m wondering if the narrow area for paging back will work well, as this is a function I use a lot. The two versions are priced at $99 and $149 respectively.
The new hotness, as my sister would call it, is the $199 Kindle Fire, which aims to take market share from the iPad. This is the first color Kindle device and it looks good. Touch enabled, this Kindle has a 7 inch color screen, has 8GB of onboard storage, runs on Android, has a new browser (far better than the experimental version on other Kindles) and more. It allows you to run apps and games, play movies and browse the web. What it doesn’t have is a camera or microphone, so you won’t be able to Skype your friends (at least, not using video).
There’s no denying that the idea of seeing magazines in color is appealing and at $199, the price tag isn’t too shabby either. If you want a reading device on which you can also play games, watch movies and browse the web, then why wouldn’t you have the Kindle Fire? If you want a more interactive web experience, then it probably won’t cut it compared with the iPad. However, if you don’t need to Skype and want an all purpose entertainment gadget for your kids, then this will knock the socks off other gaming devices.
As for me, I just like to read on my reading device, so the Kindle Fire isn’t likely to be my favorite travel gadget anytime soon. However, I could be tempted by an upgrade to the Wi-Fi Kindle Touch once the international edition is available. Which one would you choose? Check out all the options on Amazon.
- August 11th 2011
Although my Nokia phone is great for trips where I only need to connect occasionally, sometime I need a bit more. That’s when my Samsung netbook comes into play. I have an N110, which has now been replaced with the NC110.
I’d describe it as ‘small but perfectly formed’. It’s got a 10-inch screen, which isn’t that big, but it’s very clear so there are no problems seeing anything. It finds Wi-Fi signals easily and has no problem getting connected, unlike my old laptop which would occasionally drop the signal. On the NC110, I’m running Windows XP, Chrome and MS Office. Everything works pretty quickly and it’s enabled me to keep up with work on the road.
The one thing I found is that it’s very much an individual computer. It didn’t cope well with multiple user profiles, so I eventually abandoned that in favor of individual folders, each with their own copy of the portable browsers we use. I also need to take a separate mouse and keyboard if I’m going to use it for extended periods.
As well as being a work tool, the Samsung netbook has come in handy on family vacations for late night, last minute trip research, though I could also use the phone for that. Which laptop do you take with you on the road? What do you like best about it?
- August 10th 2011
Before I got a Kindle, I couldn’t imagine needing one. Now that I’ve had one for over a year, I can’t imagine taking a trip without it. It’s definitely one of my favorite travel accessories. There are plenty of ebook readers out there, but I’m not looking to switch from the Kindle to anything flashier any time soon. Here’s why:
I can read the Kindle under any lighting conditions. There’s no need to worry about glare on the screen as with some e-readers. OK, so it means I don’t have a flashy touchscreen device. Since all I want to do is read, that doesn’t matter to me. If the light is good enough to read a book, it’s good enough to read a Kindle.
Portability. Even my Kindle 2 is small and light compared with the number of books I’d normally take on vacation. I’m one of those people who panics if she doesn’t have enough to read. The Kindle has solved that problem permanently. I’ve downloaded hundreds of free ebooks and there are hundreds of thousands of paid options available through Amazon.
Amazon. I’m an Amazon girl. I’ve been buying from them pretty much since they opened and I’m happy with the service I’ve received. I can’t say the same about the few times I’ve tried other publishers. The Kindle integrates nicely with all my other Amazon stuff with no hassle.
Now, I like a flashy gadget as much as the next person, so if Amazon get their act together and release a touchscreen Kindle, I might be interested, provided it still has the benefits I’ve listed above. Do you have a favorite e-reader?
- August 9th 2011
One of my favorite travel accessories is my Nokia 5800 Xpress Music smartphone. Although it’s probably looking a bit dated now with all the sparkly new Android phones that have been released, this two year old gadget is more than worth it on any trip. Here are some of the reasons why:
GPS/Ovi Maps – this phone includes a GPS receiver and the excellent Ovi Maps application. I’ve used it in the past to navigate while walking around New Jersey. With the recent (ish) addition of free voice guidance, this can now replace the GPS receiver I used on my last trip.
Wi-Fi – built in Wi-Fi means I can connect more or less anywhere. Although I won’t be doing a lot of email checking while on vacation, it’s useful to know that I can if I want to. More importantly, if I need to do some quick research about my location, I’ll be able to do that without worrying about data charges.
Information gathering – before my trip, I’ll add a barcode and QR code scanner so I can capture information quickly when I’m on the move. As well as those apps, I’ve also got the option of voice and video recording or taking notes using the built in keyboard.
Entertainment – On this phone I’ve got radio, a built in music player and a couple of games. If I have to do any waiting around, then I won’t be bored (not that I usually am). More importantly, I’ve put on a couple of kids’ games to keep my daughter entertained, which will also keep me sane.
Overall, I’m pretty happy with the phone; the closest Nokia phone to it today looks like the C5-03.
- June 23rd 2011
Here’s the first of my favorite travel accessories. It’s a digital luggage scale. These are small, portable scales which allow you to check that your luggage isn’t over the limit. In the past, there’ve been a couple of times when I’ve been traveling and have had to do the ‘take things out of the case and put them in a plastic bag’ thing. I’ve also seen lots of people making tough decisions at the last minute about what to leave. The digital luggage scale solves that problem because you can know what every case weighs before you leave your hotel room. If I’m on a shopping trip, I’ll usually stuff things into cases midway and make a quick check so I know how much more I can buy – and when it’s time to stick to the essentials.
I first came across these when I wrote about Must Have Travel Gadgets a couple of years ago. I bought one soon after and never travel without it. Here’s how the Balanzza scales work:
There are lots of other options for digital luggage scales. Check out this list on Amazon to find one you like.