With August around the corner millions of guys around the world will prepare for their big summer vacation. Whether it be Europe, Asia, the Caribbean, or just down the street many of us will look to technology to enhance our time away. From capturing memories on your camera, and checking emails from your phone, to GPS devices to find the local pub, technology can play a big part in enjoying your stay. To save you all the hassle of Googling, researching, and browsing I have compiled my 2011 gadget travel guide to make sure your vacation or holiday (which ever you call it) all goes according to plan. So slip on those sandals and get your passport ready, as this gadget guide is about to depart. Enjoy!
Let’s face it nobody can go without their phone for a week or 2, hec I can’t last 2 minutes without mine glued to my hand. When looking for the ultimate travel phone you are going to have to look at GSM models. Sorry Verizon and Sprint but your dual mode phones just complicate things. For those on T-Mobile & AT&T you are all set, just check your roaming rates to see how much your calls/data will cost you before dialing the family back home. The option I prefer is to buy an unlocked phone and use a local SIM card from that country. This along with a calling card will give you the best bang for you buck. If data and apps are not important while away you can opt for a cheap unlocked device that cost under $100. My top choices are…
AT&T: iPhone 4 ($199) – not only is it a great device but it can multitask between all your apps while sailing down the French Riviera. From a great 5MP camera, Video, Apps, and GPS, the iPhone 4 becomes the true Swiss Army knife of gadgets.
T-Mobile: HTC Sensation 4G ($199) – for those on T-Mobile the HTC Sensation is the top dog at the moment. Your apps, email, and video will never lag with its dual-core processor and Android Gingerbread OS. Plus the 8MP snapper beats out the iPhone in still shots. You will also find GPS, apps, and full HD video. While in the hotel feel free to hook it up to your HD TV to watch movies in HD quality via the HDMI MHL adapter cable.
Unlocked: The Cheap option – you can’t go wrong with a simple Nokia GSM handset. You get reliable build quality and great battery life with out all the bells and whistles of a smartphone. My personal pick is the C2-01, which is quad-band, sports a 3.2MP camera, and only cost $80. If you want a high-end unlocked device with full smartphone features you can check out the HTC Desire S, Samsung Galaxy S II, and the Nokia N8.
Hopefully your vacation will be a truly memorable one, but why not secure those memories with breathtaking pictures and stunning video. When it comes to imaging you will run into 2 options, those who wish to produce high quality content who have experience with photograph; or the average Joe who just wants to snap some pics of his family on the Eiffel tower. I present my top choices for both the Pro and the Joe below.
Imaging: Most pros are going to look for a full DSLR camera with lenses for any memory capturing moment. So I will leave the point and shoots to the average Joe. My favorite DSLR at the moment has to be the Nikon D7000 kit. At $1200 it’s not cheap but the images will rival higher-end DSLR cameras as well. It features an HR 16.2 MP DX-format CMOS sensor, twin SD card slots, and it will capture 1080p video. Feel free to purchase different lenses depending on your shooting situation, but be warned this photo habit can get pricey.
Video: If you are looking for camcorder look no further than the Canon Vixia HF S21 ($900). This little monster shoots full HD 1080p video with 64Gb of on-board storage included. With features such as 24mbps recording, built-in 1.7x Digital Tele-converter, Dynamic SuperRange Optical Image Stabilization, and Instant AF, the Vixia can handle any job no matter what the situation.
Imaging: We all know a point and shoot will not give you the same quality as a high-end DSLR, but many new models have tons of features to make taking quality pictures a simple task. My top choices for point and shoots are the Sony DSC-TX10 and the Canon S95. The TX10 from Sony ($330) takes amazing stills with its 16.2 megapixel “Exmor R” CMOS image sensor. It also happens to shoot 3D still images and 3D panorama shots. Plus the big features found on the TX10 is the touchscreen and its waterproof. If beaches and pools are in your itinerary the TX10 is the way to go. The Canon S95 ($379) feels great in the hands and has a solid build quality. The image quality is top notch and offers a ton of manual control features. It will also shoot 720p video and can shoot in RAW mode, which lets you shoot images without JPEG compression. The S95 is for those with a bit more photography and editing experience who don’t want to lug around a full DSLR.
For all those who just need their laptops with them for business or pleasure I have a few options to make your vacation trip an easier one. The worst part of a lugging around a laptop everywhere is…lugging around a laptop everywhere. On my trips I look for smaller more compact models, thin and light is the way to go. The new MacBook Air from Apple is my top pick for a travel computer. With an 11.6” screen and only .68” thin the MBA is the ultimate travel mate. Starting at $999 it will give you a dual-core i5 chip, 64GB SSD, and 2GB of RAM. Not a bad deal if you ask me. If you are a PC fan I would look towards the Samsung Series 9, this is the true competitor of the MBA. Starting at $999 you get a dual-core i3, 64Gb SSD, and 2GB of RAM. The Series 9 will be slightly thinner than the MBA at .65”, and honestly is one of the best looking machines on the market. If you are looking for something more on a budget you can find a Netbook (yes they still exist) for around $400. I like the ASUS 1215n, Samsung NB30, and the HP Mini 210. Honestly if you are looking at a Netbook I would move that $400 over to a tablet which brings us to our next chapter.
Funny how a little over a year ago people looked at tablets with the idea of “what do I do with this tablet thing?” One year later it seems that everybody has one in their bag. The king of all tablets to me is still the Apple iPad but other manufactures are slowing stealing some market share. No surprise that I have to give the iPad 2 my top choice in the tablet category. From it’s sleek design, powerful A5 chip, and dual cameras, the 2nd gen tablet can replace most laptops, media players, and portable gaming consoles. The iPad 2 can supply your trip with directions, where to eat, games, movies, books, and of course email and communications. I honestly feel naked when I travel without mine. It is all in the Apps when it comes to the iPad, and traveling apps they are a plenty. Overall I would rate the iPad as my top travel gadget companion. For all the Android fans looking towards a Tablet I would go with the Asus EEE Pad Transformer ($399). This sleek 10.1″ Android tablet also features a snap in keyboard for typing ($149 additional charge). Unlike the iPad the EEE Pad will give you HDMI out to share videos on your HDTV plus an Invidia Tegra 2 Chip for excellent gaming and video playback. It also features a higher end 5MP camera on the back and an SD slot for additional storage. Although the Gingerbread OS is a nice upgrade from Froyo the market place does not support that many apps as iOS. The iPad and the App store dominate the Tablet market due to the sheer number of quality Apps available. iPad all the way for me.
MP3 Player/ Headphones
For those who are bringing a tablet on board a media player may not be needed. Also most smartphones these days feature great media players, streaming radio, and massive storage for music. However if an mp3 player is what you want I have my top choices below. The iPod Touch 4th gen ($229) from Apple is an amazing little device; you pretty much get and iPhone minus the calling capabilities. From movies to games this personal media player has it all. For those who have the iPhone/iPad and just want a simple player the iPod Nano 6th gen is your answer. This little player is ideal for travel as it can fit and go anywhere. Starting at $149 for the 8GB model I ideally use mine at the Hotel gym when traveling, just clip it on and go. For those who just need a simple player the Sansa Clip+ from Sandisk for $40 can’t be beat. It gives you 4GB of storage and 15hrs of battery life. It also includes an FM radio for catching local tunes.
Now that you got the mp3 player you still need to get the tunes to your head. With headphones you can look for a variety of features such as noise cancelling, microphone integration, and even Bluetooth. Headphones are not only about sound but also comfort and style. I always like to try them on for comfort before purchasing, kind of like sunglasses. I will break down my top 3 choices from each category type below.
Over the Ear: If you are going for that DJ look you might as well do it right. My all time favorite DJ phones are the Pioneer HDJ-1000 ($169). These babies feature a wicked 50mm driver with a frequency range from 5-30,000hz. Expect massive bass and clear highs from the HDJ-1000.
In ear: The Klipsch X5 Noise Isolating ($130) in ear buds are truly amazing. They are extremely comfortable, small, and lightweight. The X5′s are ideal for long flight and trips, and the noise isolation is a plus for that screaming baby next to you.
Noise Cancelling: When it comes to complete noise cancellation Bose still remains supreme. The Bose QuietComfort 15 ($300) can put you a state of trance as all outside noise just shuts off. A true must for those who need rest and relaxation on their next long journey.
Remember what Rocky said to Adrian in Rocky 2 “Do you like having a good time? Then you need a good watch!”…I couldn’t agree more. Over the past decade technology has become more evident in watches. From heart monitors and gps, to weather and compasses. A nice watch should be an essential piece of your travel gear. I have broken it down from high-tech, high-fashion, and high-end below.
High-Tech: The Tissot T-Touch Expert ($675) blends technology, fashion, and functionality into one unique timepiece. It features a Touch sensitive face that can display Hours, Minutes, Seconds, Perpetual Calendar, CD backlight, 2nd time zone, Barometer, Altimeter, Compass, Chronograph, Thermometer.
High-Fashion: This summer is all about the pilot watch. From its classic design to over sized face, a pilot’s watch is a travel essential in my book. IWC is the king of the pilot watch but if you don’t have $10k to dish out I would opt for the Hamilton Khaki Pilot ($800). This high quality Swiss Automatic watch features a 46mm face and comes in a variety of dial colors and strap options. Rule the sky this summer with a pilot watch strapped on your wrist.
High-End: If you’re an international traveler who jumps from country to county, why not do it in true Bond style with his watch. The Omega Ultimate Planet Ocean ($3600) is a king among dive watches. Available in both 42mm and 45.5mm face options this Swiss made beauty is 2000 feet water resistant with a Sapphire Crystal display. Although you will look the part of the secret agent try not to lose all your cash at the baccarat table while in Montenegro!
If you are planning on lugging all this gear around with you make sure you have the proper bag to store it in. The Arrive Collection from Tumi is one of my favorite sets. These high quality pieces of luggage not only look good, but also help keep your precious electronics safe and sound. All these pieces below are part of the new Arrive collection.
The McCarren Zip Top Crossbody ($245) is perfect for your gadgets and your iPad. If you need something for a laptop try the Galeao Messenger ($495). For all your clothes and shoes the De Gaulle International Carry-On ($1095) should have you covered. Last but not least is your toiletry kit. Without a proper shave or wash your trip is going to stink. Try the Barajas kit ($145), which comes in 2 colors and features antibacterial lining. The entire Arrive collection can be viewed at Tumi.com
So there you have it, the GazelleLab Best Travel Gadget Guide for Men is complete. I hope you enjoyed my gadget choices for this summer, and please feel free to comment or email me on your favorites as well. No matter what your summer plans are or where your destination may be, make sure to have fun, be safe, and enjoy your time away.