Last week, more than 140,00 attendees and 2,700 exhibitors from around the world descended on the Las Vegas Convention Center to fill up every last inch of floor space—some 3.2 million square feet—for the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES), arguably the place to see what’s coming out, gizmo-wise, in 2011. With mobile phones and tablets increasingly becoming the essential go-to gadgets for any traveler, CES is also where to find out what to pack on trips this year.
Based on five days of scouring CES 2011, Travel + Leisure editors have come up with 15 favorite new travel gadgets—selected for their innovation, utility, power, and portability. The good news is that all of them are either out now or slated for release in the next 12 months.
The iPad may have come out less than a year ago but the tablet has already become a must for any trip—it’ll hold maps, guidebooks, navigation services, translators, novels, music, and movies in one carry-on friendly device. Not surprisingly, more than 80 tablets were launched at CES, all of them promising full connectivity and convenience while at home or on the road. Manufacturers are obviously trying to capitalize on the Apple tablet’s success; after all, 1 in 5 Americans will own a tablet by 2014, according to Harris Interactive. Among the iPad’s competition is the Motorola Xoom, designed to run on Google’s Android platform.
Cameras also made a strong showing. Shutterbugs will revel in the better and more portable 3-D that’s showing up in camcorders, such as the new Sony Bloggie. Travelers can now literally add an extra dimension to their vacation movies.
Another trend was gadgets with dual or multi purposes. Take the rugged waterproof Eton Raptor, which delivers many devices in one neat package: an AM/FM/wideband radio, an LED flashlight, an altimeter, a barometer, an alarm clock, a bottle opener, and more.
Perhaps the ultimate travel technology debut came in the form of transportation itself. The zero-emissions Ford Focus Electric car—with its MyFord Mobile, a smartphone app that can find your car via GPS and tell you where the nearest charging stations are located—made waves at the show.
Read on for the top gadgets you’ll want to pack in your bags this year.
Tom Samiljan is Travel + Leisure’s Digital Traveler.