OK, call me a dinosaur. I'm one of those technophobes who buys a new electronic gizmo and immediately needs someone to tutor him on how to use it. Of course, by the time I master the new gadget, I'm confronted with the inevitable news bulletin that my "new" machine is already outdated.
Such is the continuing ritual of the electronics world. However, when it comes to electronics and travel, many of the new gadgets are reflections of the old adage that necessity is the mother of invention, and some are much needed.
Below are a small sample of the new electronic travel products now available. Most of these make sense. Some of them I will actually use, and in at least one case, I'm terrified of even attempting to use it, for an obvious reason.
A charging pad that allows you to wirelessly charge multiple cell phones, even if you're using an MP3 phone, and it charges just as fast as a wall plug. The pad is flat and thin, and once your cell phone is resting on the pad, it instantly starts charging. A WildCharge adapter attaches to your cell phone’s back cover. This adapter has tiny external “bumps” (contact points) that come in physical contact with the pad.
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Driving Alert Master
Company: AJ Prindle & Company
This definitely comes under the category of much needed. This device hooks onto your ear (like a wireless headset) and alerts you when you are nodding away at the wheel. It’s lightweight and ergonomic. When you begin to fall asleep and you head slumps forward, the Drive Alert alarms you with a loud beeping sound, and it includes a LR44 watch battery.
This camping blender mixes up to 30 pitchers of margaritas before it needs recharging from your car’s lighter. The two 6-volt rechargeable batteries will make 20 to 30 batches per full charge of about ten hours. The blender includes a 120-volt and a 12-volt charger that is stored in the base of the blender. It has a large push-button ON/OFF switch and LED battery level indicator.
Philips VoIP Skype Phone
If you're addicted to Skype (which uses voice over the Internet protocols, or VoIP), then this unit is perfect for you.
This phone controls Skype, and you have free phone calls to any Skype user. It works cordlessly with DECT technology. VoIP841 is the first DECT cordless phone with Skype that works without a PC. The Philips VoIP cordless handset is convenient and lets you leave your computer and walk around your home while you’re on the phone. The cordless range is 300m, and you have up to 12 hours of talk time. It has a full color graphic display and sound clarity.
Go Gear Flash audio video player
This 4GB digital audio video player is small (about the size of an iPod Mini) and lets you watch videos for up to 4 hours. It also is equipped with MP3/WMA technology and FM radio. It will hold up to 1,800 songs, 3,800 photos, and/or 12 hours of video.
Not last and not least — for the fashionista who travels:
This fashionable lock can be worn as a pendant and is encrusted with Ceralun crystals and is a 1GB USB memory key. It can store up to 250 songs or 1,000 photos.
And absolutely last, and maybe least — an electronic item I don't know if I’d be caught, uh, dead with it, and I don't want to die trying!
StrikeAlert Personal Lightning Detector
Company: Weather Shop
Apparently, hikers, campers and boaters can use the Personal Lightning Detector, a device that detects lightning in ranges as close as 6 miles or as far away as 40 miles. Its small size (about the size of a pager) lets you know if lightning is coming your way. An audible alarm sounds when there's a strike and a corresponding LED light lights up at lightning distances of 20-40 miles, 12-24 miles, 6-12 miles and within 6 miles.
You can clip it to a belt and it runs on two AAA batteries. If the LED cycles from green to red, the storm is approaching. If the LED cycles from red to green, the storm is leaving. If the LED cycles from the center LED to the outside LEDs, the storm is stationary or there's not enough data to determine the storm’s direction (of course, if the device explodes, you've probably been HIT by lightning).
Peter Greenberg is TODAY’s Travel editor. His column appears weekly on TODAYshow.com. Visit his Web site at PeterGreenberg.com.
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