Image by Joi Ito from Inbamura, Japan (whatsinyourbag) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
It’s summertime, and that means vacations. Whether you’re traveling by plane, train, car, bus, or boat, you’ll want to stock up on gadgets and gear that can make your trip fun, efficient, and memorable. Make room in your carry-on bag for these five items.
Tablet: Apple iPad 2
Sure, it’s a painfully obvious choice, but there’s simply no better way to keep entertained, informed, and productive while you’re on the road. The iPad 2 ($499 and up) is good for everything: games, music, movies, books, navigation, and even snapping photos. In fact, with its front-facing second camera and FaceTime software, you can keep in touch with the folks back home–Jetsons-style.
E-Reader: Barnes & Noble Nook Color
If you can’t swing an iPad but want most of the same amenities, look to the Nook ($249). The color version of Barnes & Noble‘s e-book reader (which is especially good for magazines and children’s books) has evolved into a capable tablet, one that can play Angry Birds, stream music from Pandora, access your Microsoft Office documents, and much more. Think of it as a Kindle on steroids.
Camera: Kodak EasyShare Touch
Every road trip needs a camera, but it’s not easy to pick the right one. I prefer something that can slip into a pocket, but has optics good enough to snap world-class photos–and videos. The Kodak EasyShare Touch ($149.95) not only meets those criteria, but also solves the long-standing problem of how to share your snapshots. Just press the bright red Share button, then choose one or more destinations: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, e-mail, or even your Kodak Pulse frame. The next time you plug the camera into your PC, Kodak’s software automatically routes each photo wherever it’s meant to go.
Camcorder: Kodak PlaySport Zx5
Yes, I’m sweet on Kodak gear these days. And who can blame me? The Playsport Zx5 pocket camcorder ($179.95) captures full 1080p video on dry land or underwater, where it can dive up to 10 feet and live to tell–make that “show”–the tale. I found the device’s controls admirably easy to use, most notably the Share button, which works like on the EasyShare Touch to easily share video via e-mail, Facebook, YouTube, and other services. The Zx5 is available in three snazzy colors: red, aqua, and black.
Mobile Hotspot: Verizon MiFi 4510L
Internet access isn’t quite as ubiquitous as you might think. If you want fast access nearly anywhere you travel, pack Verizon‘s MiFi 4510L (currently on sale for $49 with two-year contract). This mobile hotspot taps Verizon’s speedy LTE network and shares that connectivity with up to five devices. That means you can download new Nook or iPad apps and upload EasyShare photos on the run. Just be prepared for another monthly bill: The MiFi runs $50 or $80 per month depending on which data plan you choose. But, man, it’s worth it!
Self-proclaimed cheapskate Rick Broida has been a technology writer for over 20 years. He has authored over a dozen books, including, most recently, “How to Do Everything: Palm Pre.” Currently he writes the Cheapskate blog.