12 of the best... travel gadgets
Don't leave town without them
Round-up As another British summer disappears down the meteorological toilet amidst howling gales and driving rain Reg Hardware's mind turns to getting away from it all for a few weeks to a place where carrying a solar charger is not an act of near criminal optimism. To help ease the miles we decided to take a look at a dozen gadgets for the tech savvy traveller that might be worth packing, along with the sun block and bug repellent.
Garmin Oregon 300 GPS
The Oregon 300 is a map, a compass, an altimeter and GPS navigation system all rolled up into one chunky unit. The standard device comes loaded with Garmin's GB Discoverer maps. These include Ordnance Survey coverage of all Britain's National Parks at 1:50,000 scale with 1:25,000 maps also available to download on MicroSD card. Garmin knows a thing about toys for boys. Hence, the 300 is encased in some serious shockproof rubber with a hefty mini-USB port cover and fully enclosed on/off button.
The handset actually meets IPX7 waterproofing standards, which means it should be good for up to thirty minutes at depths of up to one metre. Power comes from a couple of AA batteries, a decent set of which should keep you on the straight and narrow for around 16 hours. You even get a carabiner to hook it to your belt. The downsides are it’s a bit on the heavy side, the 3in 240x400 screen and could perform better in direct sunlight. Also, the 1:25,000 British National Park and National Trail maps cost £129.99 a go, which – the quality of the OS's data notwithstanding – is having a laugh when you consider when the paper version of each map will set you back less then a tenner.
Joby Gorillapod Go-Go! Tripod
The humble and, let’s face it, dull as dishwater camera tripod was an unlikely device to be transformed into a must-have urban chic travel accessory. And yet, that's just the trick that Joby pulled off with its Gorillapod range – a rather funky selection of camera and gadget stands for all seasons and locations.
In its Go-Go iteration Joby supplies the universally articulated 10in high Gorillapod stand with a camera screw mount and with two sticky pad mounts and a suction cup. The latter is holding a not exactly featherweight Cowon A3 PMP at the perfect viewing angle as this is being written. With those attachments to hand, the Gorrilapod will let you mount just anything at just about any angle on just about any surface. When not standing things up you can use it to attach stuff to tree branches, poles and the like. If you travel with a camera, a PMP or a phone, you couldn’t spend £25 more usefully.
Next page: Aquapac Waterpoof Camera Case
"You call that a knife......"
"THIS is a knife...." "...it's a USB stick"
Franklyn, my dear...
Thomas Shinnick is right. Should be yu kuai, not yu kai. Piss poor. Also, why no tone signs?
The WiFi detector - if you've already got an iPhone or iPod Touch, you can get software WiFi detectors off the app store. I use WiFiTrak, but there are loads of them. It will show you networks that are technically too weak to use so don't show up in the standard network list, so you know to do a bit of wandering watching the meter to get closer.
Wind-up radio - the Tesco own-brand equivalent is £8, has a good LED torch on it, and I'm sure is lighter than 700g - could be a lot smaller, of course. Wouldn't say I use mine extensively, but it's still going and the charge lasts amazingly well with no use for a NiMH. Tuning is a bit fiddly as it's not geared.
One point - the solar phone charger, are you sure the battery's only 150mAh? That's tiny, should be 1500mAh surely.
The best thing about the Oregon (well, one of the best things because it's really a great device) is that you don't have to pay for maps anymore in many cases. It works fine with openstreetmap.org maps, including car and bicycle routing.
Better Travel Radio, the Eton FR150
Eton FR150 Travel Radio:
Bonus: a flashlight, and a cell-phone charger... And it's cheaper than the FreePlay and much much lighter FreePlay: 112 x 60 x 186mm and 700g: Eton: 126 x 60 x 46 mm and 200 g.
While the specs on the webpage lists an extra weather radio band, mine has two shortwave bands. (Because I purchased it outside of the USA?)