It’s that time of the year when we all plan an escape to the mountains, the woods or the seas — or any other destination that helps lighten up and keep work and worries at bay. The modern traveller knows that a vacation is not a vacation without a set of handy gadgets that lets you flaunt your holiday hotspots on social networking sites. Here’s a review of the five must haves that will add zing to your smart travel plans .
The tablet PC or a smartphone
If you own a tablet PC then don’t bother lugging your laptop or netbook on the trip. In fact, owners of Apple iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Olive Pad or any other internationally-available tablet PCs can safely leave their music player, laptops, handheld gaming device and GPS units home.
If you don’t have a tablet PC, you need not worry. A good smartphone will get you through the vacations. For example, Nokia’s latest E7 communicator. The newest smartphone uses the same Symbian 3 OS as the Nokia N8, and offers excellent usability when sending emails. Nokia claims the device is a mobile office since you can edit powerpoint files, word documents or spreadsheets on the move. The E7 comes with some powerful multimedia hardware like an 8- megapixel camera and HDMI-out port in case you feel like streaming your HD movies on to hotel’s HD TV. You will also love the fact that it can lessens the burden of a camcorder since it can record widescreen HD video in 720p at 25fps.
Load up those apps
You cannot possibly leave for vacations without pumping your smartphone (Android, Symbian, BlackBerry or Apple iOS) with apps that will make connectivity simpler.
For Apple iPad users, invest $0.99 on FlightTrack Pro app. This is the best flight tracker in the app world and lets you receive flight data from airlines. You can also receive email confirmations and alerts with your flight itinerary. You also receive maps, which work while you are offline. FlightTrack Pro is a full package that helps plan your holiday.
There are free apps like Kayak for Android, iPhone and iPad. It has unique features, like hotel information and rental car search, airport maps and fee details, flight status search and even Twitter.
Another free download for Android phones and the iPhone, Geodelic mashes up augmented reality with restaurant and business search. You can use the app to find everything from the closest Pizza Hut to the most highly rated restaurants near your hotel, and the app will put them all on a virtual globe that shows you how far you’ll have to travel to get there.
The biggest and possibly the most used app for BlackBerry users is the BlackBerry Messenger. Just share your unique pin and connect with friends. You can take comfort in knowing that your friends and loved ones are only a BBM message away — forget that postcard, go with the BBM instead. You can chat and share experiences — stories, holiday pictures and videos with individual contacts or groups of friends instantly.
Carry a good pair of headsets
There’s no point in carrying your music, games and movies on a tablet PC or smartphone if you are not able to tune in to the data with a pair of good headsets.
We recommend the latest Sennheiser HD 518 headphones that deliver clear, powerful sound from your audio source. It seemed to pick up all the exciting details in your tunes that you may not have noticed before. The HD 518’s open, around-the-ear design sports comfortably padded cups that cover your ears for hours of listening comfort. The Sennheiser’s Eargonomic Acoustic Refinement (E.A.R.) technology uses an advanced earcup shape to guide sound waves more directly into your ears for those extra levels of detail.
Hit on the Pocket: Sennheiser HD 598 will cost about Rs 12,990.
A good camera
Annual summer breaks deserve the best cameras to capture the moments. So, don’t be a penny pincher and invest in a good camera, preferably a DSLR that is easy to get started with.
Our vote goes to Sony’s Alpha SLT-A33, a DSLR-styled camera with 14-megapixel resolution, HD video and a vertically tilting screen. The SLT-A33, along with its stable-mate the SLT-A55 represents a brand new type of camera. They look like conventional DLSRs but are compatible with the complete range of Sony Alpha lenses and comes with fixed semi-reflective mirrors. Sony calls them ‘translucent’ mirrors — hence the acronym SLT for Single Lens Translucent rather than Single Lens Reflex.
Here’s a camera with a large sensor and broad catalogue of lenses that can continuously autofocus during video and deliver an experience close to that of a camcorder. It also presents one of the best Live View experiences with a high resolution viewfinder, detailed articulated screen and quick autofocus, which lets you get on with your snaps. The icing on the cake is that the SLT-A33 comes packed with Sony’s features that combine multiple images for special effects. The Handheld Twilight and new Multi-frame Noise Reduction modes combine six frames grabbed in quick succession to reduce noise.
Hit on the pocket: Alpha 55 (SLT-A55V) and Alpha 33 (SLT-A33) were launched for Rs 47,990 & Rs 37,990 respectively.
The necessary frills
If you are taking a digital camera along with you then you may want to take some extra memory cards, a card reader and maybe an extra battery set (for camera). Also, remember that batteries slowly lose their power even when not in use so constantly recharge your spare battery even if it hasn’t been used.
Bringing one huge memory card (of say 32GB or 64GB) might seem like a good idea, but if anything goes wrong with it while you’re on vacation then you will be left without any backup. Hence, multiple memory cards make for a better vacation plan.
If you are flying overseas, then make sure to check the voltage requirements of your electronic devices. Many small electronics and rechargeable batteries adapt to universal voltage, which means they’ll work anywhere in the world with only a plug adapter — no converter necessary.
Hit on the Pocket: Memory cards – 8GB, 16GB and 32GB – are typically priced starting at Rs 1500. Rechargeable batteries (pair) are available for Rs 1,000 and more.