Colin’s Travel Tech

Traveling is music to my ears
There are a few types of headphones great for travel. I generally have three sets with me: wired earbuds, Bluetooth ear pieces, and an over-the-ear set.

The earbuds and ear pieces are great for walking around alone or listening to music on the airplane. Bluetooth ear pieces are permitted on planes as best I can tell, but I did have passengers scrounge through the list trying to argue that they are not. In the unlikely event they call you to the attention of a flight attendant, be prepared for the attendant to tell you they’re not permitted. That’s when you whip out the earbuds for the remainder of the flight—it’s best not to conflict with someone who has all but arresting power on a flight.

Over-the-ear sets are great, too, especially for long flights. They often have noise-canceling systems, but such can easily reach $200 for the highest quality sets from Bose or Sennheiser. These also usually have airline connectors for in-flight movies.

Avoid using headsets with boom microphones while traveling. You’re likely to accidentally bend or break off the mic while putting away the set in a rush. Also, you’ll look silly, and if I see you, I’ll probably point and laugh in a not so subtle manner.

Portable speakers are convenient, too. A growing number of hotels provide radios with auxiliary-in ports, but those silly things aren’t sufficient when you want to rock out while getting dressed. Simple and battery powered is great, wireless is awesome. Use Bluetooth to your advantage!

Portable Power
Recharging all of your devices is key. I keep two small, portable batteries available, both of which I have reviewed: Choiix PowerFort and Kiwi Solar charger. My Nexus One can kill the former in 2 charges, the latter in 1.5. However, it’s hard to hit it exactly, so the chargers really just add a few extra hours of juice.

Keep the devices charged when possible. Both have car chargers, but both use USB for charging. Keep in mind that USB from a computer supplies at most 500 mA, but wall chargers and car sockets can supply 1 A, charging the battery and your devices quicker.

If you need to recharge your laptop on the go, look for larger portable batteries. Hypermac sells great ones for Apple fanboys.

Don’t forget old fashioned AA and AAA batteries. Cameras and such often use these, as do electronic toothbrushes and such. I carry a handful of rechargeable NiMH batteries and a charger just for that purpose.

Reading on the go
The rise of e-book readers has rekindled travelers’ appetite for reading in the airport and on the train. The Amazon Kindle is great and so is the B&N Nook and Apple iPad, but even lesser devices are often sufficient. Some folks are OK reading books on their smartphone, but that would drive me crazy on my Nexus One.

Me? I prefer good, old fashioned paper. Why? I can pull a book out of my backpack the second I’m seated on the plane and not put it away until I get off the plane. For my jumps from Pittsburgh to DC, to Columbus, to Orlando, or Louisville, or anywhere in between which is generally less than two hours, it’s nice to be virtually uninterrupted. You’re not permitted to use devices below 10,000 feet, which is generally the first and last 15-20 minutes of a flight.

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