Still can’t figure out what to buy your loved ones this holiday season?
First, our gadget expert Phil Baker filled us in on some of the top gadgets he reviewed in 2010. Now he follows it up more top picks designed especially for travelers.
Whether you want to spend $16 or $1,600, he’s got the inside scoop on the hottest new products.
$50 and Under
Contigo Coffee mug www.gocontigo.com – This 16 oz. double-wall stainless steel coffee mug provides one-hand use with a cleverly designed no-spill seal. It keeps drinks hot for several hours and fits most car cupholders. It’s one of the highest rated products of its kind. $15.
Vinturi Wine Aerator www.Vinturi.com – Vinturi created the category of wine aeration and continues to lead with ingenious products. This year, it introduced a new smaller version specifically for travelers. The Vinturi Travel is 5.5 inches tall, weighs 4 ounces and comes with a hard case for travel. These are beautifully designed and constructed, and aerate the wine as it’s poured through the device, one glass at a time. As the wine flows through a small channel, it creates a pressure differential that sucks in and mixes air into the stream. In my tests I found that it reduced the harshness of younger and less expensive wines and opened up the bouquet, creating the same results in a few seconds that normally would take an hour or more of the wine sitting in a glass. If you’re still skeptical, the Vinturi products have been broadly accepted and recommended by wineries, wine retailers and experts. $50.
$51 to $150
Tekkeon myPower for iPhone 4 www.tekkeon.com – The latest and most refined of the add-on battery cases for the iPhone 4, this model is slimmer than any of its competition, yet has a large enough battery to double the run time between charges. Its design takes pains to protect the back glass surface, a known iPhone 4 vulnerability with slide-on cases. $80
IDAPT I4 www.idaptweb.com – This innovative charging solution can charge up to four mobile devices simultaneously including the iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, Bluetooth products and most anything with a micro or mini USB connector. It provides a way to charge all of your devices while eliminating the tangle of wires. It’s a flat platform with three snap-in modules that provide a direct connection to your device. Simply plug your device directly onto the connector extending up from the modules. An additional USB connector on the side allows you to charge one large item such as an iPad. $60.
Looking for travel gadgets for travelers of all ages? Don’t miss A Traveler’s Holiday Gift Guide For Families
$151 to $300
Checkpoint Flyer Briefcase from Tom Bihn www.tombihn.com – Though there has been an influx of checkpoint-friendly cases on the market, this is of the most unusual and flexible computer case designs I’ve seen. It’s as if it’s two cases in one, with a protective neoprene computer case that fits on the underside of a two-panel briefcase. It can pass through security by unfolding the neoprene case without removing the computer. The main case is soft and flexible rather than structured, so it stays slim when not fully packed and expands as it’s filled up. The pocket layout is intelligently designed to accommodate everything from magazines to tickets to chargers and pens. This product is made by hand in Seattle and is offered in a variety of colors and sizes to fit most computers. $220.
Windows 7 Mobile Smartphones www.microsoft.com – I’ve been trying the HTC Surround from AT&T, one of the many new Windows phones, and I like it a lot. The unique interface makes it easy to access what’s most important to you from the front screen and eliminates the clutter of icons found on other smartphones. Small windows appear alerting you to new mail, Facebook messages and other timely information. The browser works well and the integration with you’re your social sites is excellent. I particularly appreciate the large fonts and animated screens. While Microsoft has a ways to go to catch up with apps available for Android and the iPhone, it’s very impressive and a worthy contender that should only get better.
Livescribe Echo Pen www.livescribe.com – New this year is the Echo pen that lets you digitize your notes as well as record and play back important meetings and lectures. This new version is lighter, easier to hold and simpler to connect to your computer to save your information. $170.
Check out: Gadget Guy Reviews: The Best Gadgets of 2010
$300 to $600
Compact Enthusiast Cameras – Among the latest cameras, the Canon PowerShot S95 www.usa.canon.com and Panasonic’s new Lumix L5www2.panasonic.com that I’ve been trying both take exceptional images for such small cameras. The S95 is the smaller and less expensive at $399, while the Lumix is $499 and provides more customization of the settings.
Apple iPad www.apple.com - As I noted in my previous column, the most desirable gift for families this year is the Apple iPad. My grandsons love the games, including Simon and 300 Bowl, and are glued watching episodes of Sesame Street and Little Einsteins their parents buy from iTunes. The only difficulty they have using it is tearing it away from their dad playing Angry Birds. You can download movies from Netflix, use it for reading and writing email or surf the Web. And surprisingly, it’s endured the rough abuse of a 2-year-old. Prices range from $499 to more than $600. The $499 model is fine for most, if you can access Wi-Fi and don’t use the iPad to store huge video, photo and music collections.
Pentax K-5 DSLR http://pentaximaging.com - I’m in the midst of testing the just-released K-5 DSLR from Pentax and from my results, I can recommend this as one of the best mid-price cameras. (Mid-price being between the entry-level models at $600 and the huge pro models at close to $3,000.) It has a phenomenal new sensor made by Sony that lets you shoot great quality images at ISO settings of 3200 and even higher. That expands the opportunities for ambient light images beyond previous generation models. $1,600 for the body.
By Phil Baker for PeterGreenberg.com. Read Phil’s blog here and check out his book, From Concept to Consumer: How to Turn Ideas into Money, available at bookstores everywhere and as an e-book on the Nook and Kindle.
Related links on PeterGreenberg.com:
- Gadget Guy Reviews: The Best Gadgets of 2010
- A Traveler’s Holiday Gift Guide For Families
- Tech in 2010: Privacy Is Dead, Let Google & Facebook Take Over For TSA
- Wheeled Luggage Reviews: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
- Top Travel Accessories: Don’t Leave Home Without These Gadgets
- Great Gadgets for Road Trips: GPS, Phones & Satellite Radio
- Gadget Reviews: Best New Bluetooth Headsets
- Thin Is In: MacBook Air Vs. PC Thinkpad
- The MacBook Air Review: Travel-Friendly Computing?
- Travel Gadgets & Gear section