Dave’s Travel Tech


This edition of Travel Tech is probably most notable for what I didn’t manage to acquire prior to my Thanksgiving journey.

I was slow to act on picking up a refurbished Kindle for a low $150 to make my upcoming transatlantic flights a bit more palatable. By the time I got around to pulling the trigger, the deal was gone. At which point I thought a HP Mini could function as a Kindle and also come in handy for cranking out a few short blog posts while on vacation. But the model I wanted, containing Broadcom’s Crystal HD video card, wasn’t available through the partner HP EPP store. I was somewhat on the fence anyway, assuming more powerful netbooks will be available early next year and didn’t look too hard for a replacement model. And I’m bummed we’ve yet to see an iPhone Bluetooth (or tethered, even) keyboard accessory… which would probably allow me to skip the whole netbook meme entirely. Lastly, on a recent trip, I made the command decision to unload my old, grimy and frayed Shure EC2s. Which I’ve yet to replace. (Any suggestions in the $75 – $125 range?) So I’ll be making do with a decent pair of Griffin Tunebuds which also house an iPhone mic.

Speaking of that iPhone 3GS, it will play a prominent tech role on our travels. I picked up a Mophie Juicepack Air ($80) yesterday, which doubles battery capacity… and phone size… and weight. But I’m hoping it’ll enable me to watch video, listen to music, and read Kindle “books” throughout the flights. (Expect a full report when I return.) I also intend to use my iPhone, via sporadic WiFi connectivity, to spam my Twitter followers with random vacation snapshots, probably food-related. Of course, I’ll be able to keep up with email and perhaps Google Reader news items. But what I’m most looking forward to, unlike my overseas travels last year, is the ability to conveniently and economically make Skype phone calls back to the US.


Lastly, my ancient pocketable Panasonic Lumix digital still camera is at least temporarily being replaced by the Sony Cybershot DSC-WX1 ($350). Which Sony provided to me for use in an upcoming blogger ‘sweep panorama’ photo contest. (More on that after the trip.) In addition to shooting panoramas (sample above), I’ll be taking traditional 10mpx pics under a variety of lighting conditions and may attempt capturing some 720p video. Of course, none of that would be possible without purchasing Sony’s MemoryStick media — I probably overpaid for an 8GB card ($60) at Best Buy, being pressed for time. But the card does offer high(er) read/write speeds and comes bundled with a small USB card reader to offload photos once I’m home.

9 thoughts on “Dave’s Travel Tech”

  1. As you can see from the pic, I’m again traveling with a pair of foam earplugs. Priceless on most flights and in noisy hotels (which I hope we don’t have).

    The blog will be quiet the next few days, but maybe Mari will get a post or two up while I’m away. Happy Thanksgiving, all.

  2. where are you headed dave? i am making a trans-atlantic flight as well, making way to Ireland this evening…

    i dont travel as lightly though.

    -Canon Rebel XSi (two lenses)
    -Flip UltraHD
    -MacBook Pro
    -iPod nano

    Hoping to get away with wifi only, even though i could hook up the sim card for vodafone access

  3. jon, I did Dublin last Thanksgiving. This year, we’re doing Munich. Leaving the laptop at home and I know I sacrifice photo quality using pocket-able cameras but I’m not willing to carry anything larger (plus extra lenses). In Dublin, it looked like one of the phone carriers offered WiFi all over the place and you could buy a day pass or something. Maybe worth checking out? We mostly used our hotel lobby to periodically upload camera pics and check email though. We’ll see what the situation in Munich is. (Melissa’s also bringing her new iPhone, which replaces the WiFi Blackberry she used last year.)

  4. You can add that Broadcom Card to the HP Mini yourself. Just get it for around $25 from eBay. Just make sure you get the Mini with the HD (1366×768) display.

    I really like my HP Mini, but I haven’t gotten used to the trackpad button placement.


  5. Dublin is good times. We are headed to the northern coast, in county donegal. its quite rural up there (sheep, fields, more sheep, did i mention sheep?) but we are spending time with family. should be good times. Very jealous of your trip to Germany, its number one on my list right now.

    i scored a free eee 1000 (linux with SSD) but the original SSD is soooo slow and i haven’t had time to find a suitable replacement that’s actually in stock anywhere…

  6. Hey Dave – Audio Technica’s ATH-ANC3 are my headset of choice. In ear, pretty comfortable, decent sounding and noise canceling which helps tremendously while flying. About $120 in the Apple Store and just about half mail order from respected etailers. The noise cancellation is not as good as over the ear brands, but they are barely bulkier to carry then the Shure’s you’re replacing them with. Comes with a decent semi-hard case, various size tips, a battery, an extension cable, and airline adapter. I’ve had two generations of Sony in-ear noise canceling, these are both comfier (the Sony tips are too soft and the plastic too hard underneath) and more effective (better cancellation of background noise).

    Another option if it’s for your iPhone is the Plantronics Voyager 855, less than $40 at Amazon. It’s a bluetooth headset with an attachable ear piece for full stereo A2DP sound. Quality is pretty good… for Bluetooth stereo. It’s completely in ear as a headset, although the second ear piece attaches via an ear loop for the first ear. I hate ear loops, but this one is low profile, not ear irritating, and does NOT interfere with any glasses I’ve worn.

    Careful with the Mophie… mine got stuck on pretty bad, took a lot of pressure to remove, and ended up scratching the back of my iPhone upon removal. I’ve also tried the inCase Power Slider, which as a non-hard plastic is more scratch resistant itself and also seemed to fit better. Problem is, both interfere horribly with iPhone reception. I’ve gone back to carrying a battery from monoprice.com – “iPhone Backup Battery Pack (2200mAh)” which plugs into the iPhone via dock port providing about 125% of a charge. At $14.50 a piece I picked up three (one for the wife, two for my laptop bag) and can pretty much go 24 hours of video playing without plugging into AC. :) It’s a bit quirky… every now and then (maybe 1 out of every 5 times I use it) it will charge for a few minutes then the iPhone complains about compatibility and stop charging, but unplugging and replugging does the trick.

  7. @Davis
    I feel other option if it’s for your iPhone is the Plantronics Voyager 855, inferior than $40 at River. It’s a bluetooth headset with an bondable ear part for rotund binaural A2DP solid. Property is pretty good… for Bluetooth binaural. It’s completely in ear as a headset, although the 2nd ear helping attaches via an ear loop for the forward ear. I hatred ear loops, but this one is low profile, not ear irritating, and does NOT interpose with any glasses.

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