Five smart tech tools to bring on your next trip
Summertime is nearly upon us, and for most folks that means travel. Whether you're packing up the minivan for a cross-country road trip or hopping a flight to visit far-flung family, you'll want to throw a few key tech tools into your bag.
MyCharge Peak 6000
The last thing you need during a trip is for your phone or tablet to run out of juice. The MyCharge Peak 6000 is a portable power supply with built-in connectors for the most common gear—and a USB port for the less-common stuff.
The half-pound Peak packs enough mobile power to charge not only small devices like phones and Bluetooth headsets, but also larger tablets like the iPad. I've been using one for months, and it has quickly become my most indispensable travel accessory. Read my original review
if you want to learn more.
The Peak 6000 lists for $99.99, but AT&T currently has it on sale for $69 shipped
FreedomPop Overdrive Pro
How's the Wi-Fi in your hotel? If you answered "flaky" or "non-existent," just pull out the Overdrive Pro. This mobile Wi-Fi hotspot connects to Sprint's 3G or 4G network (whatever's available), then shares that signal with up to eight devices (your phone, your tablet, etc.).
Lots of mobile hotspots do likewise; what's so special about FreedomPop's? The unit itself (which is refurbished) costs only $39.99 and requires no contract. In fact, you get 500MB of data absolutely free every month, with the option of earning more by referring friends. And if you do need to purchase extra data, you'll find FreedomPop's prices far below other carriers'.
I think of this as "emergency Wi-Fi," the perfect backup for those times when I need to get online but can't find a working hotspot.
When I travel with my laptop, I always pack a retractable mouse—meaning one with a spring-loaded cord that coils back into the mouse when not in use. Why not go with something wireless? Simple: It's one less thing to keep charged, and one less connectivity hassle. (Bluetooth mice work pretty well most of the time, but when they don't, it can be maddening.)
The Logitech M125 optical wheel-mouse is just about perfect. It's large enough to grip comfortably but small enough to earn a spot in your carry-on bag. It runs on USB, comes in a variety of colors, and costs only $18—though Rakuten.com currently sells it (in silver) for $11.95 shipped
Klipsch Image S4
Whether you're trying to watch a movie on your flight or block out noisy neighbors in your hotel, nothing beats a good pair of noise-isolating earphones. And I've long been partial to the Klipsch Image S4, which combine great sound-blocking with great sound. Plus, they're not crazy-expensive.
Indeed, although they have a list price of $79.99, Amazon currently sells the Klipsch Image S4 earbuds for $49.89 shipped
Logitech UE Mobile Boombox
If you like music, nothing makes a hotel room feel more like home than a playlist of your favorite tunes. And for that you'll need a portable Bluetooth speaker, one that can run on battery power for your excursions to the patio, pool, or beach.
One of my favorites: the Logitech UE Mobile Boombox, a surprisingly compact but surprisingly loud speaker that doubles as a speakerphone. It comes in a handful of festive colors and pairs with any phone or tablet that supports Bluetooth. There's also a line-in jack for those devices that don't.
The UE is already a pretty good deal at $99.99, but you can often find them refurbished for $20-30 less.Veteran technology writer Rick Broida
is the author of numerous books, blogs, and features. He lends his
money-saving expertise to CNET and Savings.com, and also writes for PC
World and Wired.