Travel Tech Tools

When you are on the go, naturally you want to travel light. The less, the better. The smaller, the better—especially with tech items. And the trend is only continuing to accelerate. Where you once may have considered taking a laptop on the plane to watch a movie, today it even seems a bit much to lug around, considering how many tablet computers have entered the marketplace in recent years. Come to think of it, consider how many different items that once took up space in your carry-on bag are now included with your smartphone alone: camera, video camera, portable movie player, CD player, books, board games, and the list goes on. (I about said magazines, but you can still enjoy your latest issue of Minnesota Monthly while everyone else is jamming their iPads into the seat pockets in front of them. No Alec Baldwin-moment worries here). So in the interest of talking about travel-sized tech, I’ve put together a short list of items ready-made for the road.

The Cotton Candy Cstick

Google’s Android platform has become a ubiquitous presence on cell phones and tablets of all sizes. And now the Android operating system is available on your computer through a unique little device from FXI Technologies called the Cotton Candy Cstick. Consider it a computer in your pocket. While it resembles a USB hard drive, the Cstick does much more. Plug the device into any computer’s USB port (including a Mac) and you are up and running with a virtualized Android window on your desktop. Use the computer’s screen and keyboard to access your files on the Cotton Candy—basically a computer within a computer. The Cotton Candy device itself features a USB 2.0 male port, a Micro USB port, as well as a Micro SD slot that allows up to 64 GB of storage. Engineers are still working on the final design, but already preorders for the device have sold out.

The Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit

So many smartphones include cameras that almost rival the quality of the digital point-and-shoot. However, I still love my Lumix for taking photos over my iPhone (although if I had the new iPhone 4S, I would think twice about leaving the camera at home). But when you are on the road, especially in those scenic locales, your digital camera may quickly fill up. Plus, you might want to view your photos on your iPad’s large display. The Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit allows you to quickly and easily import photos and video using the camera’s USB cable or directly from an SD card. Bonus Apple tip: If you use an Airport Express Base Station to create a wireless network at home, consider taking it with you on the road. It seems that every hotel offers wireless internet access these days, but if you ever find yourself in a room with just an Ethernet cable for internet access, simply plug it into the Express and you’ve created your own instant wireless network. If you haven’t seen one, it looks like an oversized laptop plug, so it packs light.

Bose AE2 Headphones

OK, these aren’t exactly small or new but I can’t travel without my Bose AE2 Headphones. Nobody likes airplane noise, especially if your seat seems to be located directly above the jet engines. A few years ago, I finally bought a nice pair of over-the-ear Bose earphones. I didn’t get the actual noise cancelling model (my next pair will), but just having the over-the-ear headphones makes such a difference. I know these are more bulky that some of the in-ear models, but I’ve never had luck with them. They still seemed to let in too much jet hum.

Are there other tech items that you would recommend? We’d love to hear about your travel-tested tech tips that help you when you are on the road. This New York Times article lists some more road gear for the tech savvy. Happy travels.