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Tech Thursday: Foursquare Launches Best of Lists

romantic cities

According to Foursquare, your feelings about Valentine’s Day may be totally dependent on where you live. As part of a new series of “Best of” lists, the social media company has crunched its data to find America’s most—and least—romantic cities, based on the number of check-ins to date-friendly spots. The results may not surprise you. Topping the list for most romantic is San Francisco, with its postcard-ready bay views and artisan patisseries, followed by New Orleans and New York City. But survey says: if you live in Trenton, NJ, or Akron, OH, don’t count on dazzling your date with a night on the town. For those living in America’s least romantic cities, we recommend homemade sweets and champagne cocktails.

Valentines or Galentines, we’re digging the new Foursquare feature—and with over 30 “Best of” lists for different US cities, it’s our new destination guide on the go. Browse the lists online before you fly, and save any hotspots to your profile: They’ll be waiting for you as soon as your plane touches down.

Nikki Ekstein is an Editorial Assistant at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her at on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.

Tech Thursday: Mophie Juice Pack Helium for the iPhone 5

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We constantly obsess our iPhone accessories here at the T+L offices—deciding between that J.Crew chevron stripped case or the Otterbox may be Trip Doctor's debate of the century—but our eyes are officially turning to a third option. Mophie, the adventure-friendly brand whose juice pack cases add extra battery life (and heft) to your mobile devices, is launching a super-slim model—the first of its kind for the latest generation of iPhones. The Helium is expected to add 80% extra charge to your battery life (that's six hours of talk time, or seven hours of web browsing)—and it also features forward-facing speakers for enhanced sound. Pre-orders opened to the public yesterday, with devices shipping nationwide on February 19. For now, the slim gunmetal finish will do—but we'll take this opportunity to plea for some fresh designs on the Helium 2.0.

Nikki Ekstein is an Editorial Assistant at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her at on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.

Photo courtesy of mophie.

Tech Thursday: 360° Grand Canyon Panoramas Added to Google Maps

This morning on Lat/Long, the Google Maps blog, a proud product manager unveiled new eye-popping, wig-launching Grand Canyon imagery that will be added to the region in Google Maps. (The shots, taken by hikers wearing 40-lb. packs mounted with Google 360-degree cameras, cover 75 miles of trails.)

Take a stroll through some of these spectacular panoramas while solemnly humming This Land Is Your Land. Kind of beats the pants off finding your childhood home on Google Streetview, eh?


View Larger Map

Ann Shields is a senior digital editor at Travel + Leisure.

Tech Thursday: Seatguru's Intelligent Flight Search

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Everyone’s favorite airline seat-map compendium, Seatguru, has just upped the ante with a newly redesigned site that’s more user-friendly and—drumroll—includes flight search functionality for the first time. Though the service is in beta (it still has some kinks to work out), it’s already proving to be a refreshingly smart addition to the world of airfare search.

How it works: In addition to the usual flight-search filters (price, stops, departure time, duration), Seatguru introduces several new sorting mechanisms for travelers: Best Value (factoring in price, departure time, and duration), Best Times (weeding out early morning and overnight flights), and the site’s signature Guru Factor, which mines the site’s trove of cabin data to look at the “comfort” of flights. Taking account of cabin class, seat pitch, width, and recline, as well as inflight entertainment and amenities, the Guru Factor givers travelers an overall assessment of either “Love it,” “Like it,” or “Live with it” for any given flight. In our tests, it also alerted us when, for example, we could spend an additional $40 to trade up for a plane with an extra four inches of legroom.

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Tech Thursday: Digital Tools to Aid Your Travel Experience

GenConnect interviewed Sarah Spagnolo, T+L's digital projects editor, about our latest tech tools that can help you get the most out of your travels.

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Tech Thursday: The Peninsula Hong Kong's High-Tech Renovation

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The 84-year-old grande dame just unveiled the next-generation rooms of its modern tower, part of a $58 million, 15-month renovation. (The original building will reopen in April 2013.) T+L got an advance look at the 21st-century makeover, complete with cutting-edge technology hatched in the hotel’s own R&D lab and a sleek new design that maximizes space and functionality. $$$$

• Guests can make free international calls on the wireless phones with VoIP (voice over Internet protocol).

• Ten multi-language touch-screen panels placed around the room control the lights, curtains, thermostat, television, and Internet radio (all 3,000 stations).

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Tech Thursday: Using Social Media for Storm Updates

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It’s no secret that last week’s hurricane took a major toll on the East Coast and its residents; with so many outages, how was anyone able to stay current with news of the situation?

Both Facebook and Twitter played a big part in helping to keep everyone informed. Whether you follow the actual sources of the information, or your friends do and repost, everything anyone needed to know about the storm was all there—flight cancellations, public transportation announcements, and even voting location changes—at the touch of their fingers. I kept myself up-to-date mostly via information streaming through my Facebook feed, with a few glances at my Twitter feed.

But you can’t always rely on your friends to provide this information, so just in case, here are a few important accounts to keep an eye on to stay in the know when it comes to inclement weather.

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Tech Thursday: The Future of Hotel Technology

hotel technology

When it comes to reliable, easy-to-use tech amenities, hotels have lagged confoundingly behind what most travelers have at home or on their smart phones or tablets. Even at many so-called state-of-the-art properties guests wrestle with inscrutable room controls, ornery A/V setups, and awkward communications systems. Thankfully, some hotels are now stepping up their tech game—for real.

What’s Here Now

These days, any property worth its room rate offers free Wi-Fi. But too often it’s exceedingly sloooow. Solution: many hotels (including the Radisson in San Diego and the Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo) are rolling out 100 Mbps Internet service, which is fast enough to download an album in three seconds.

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Tech Thursday: Four Great Portable Speakers

Music sets the mood to any atmosphere; this rings true whether you’re lounging around in your living room, commuting to work in the morning, or de-stressing while on vacation. It’s certainly true for me. And, while many hotels have been equipped with iPod/iPhone docks—which will all require replacements or the addition of an adaptor with the new line of iGadgets—not all of them do...not to mention, not everyone uses iOS devices. So sometimes the best solution is to bring your own. Here are four of my newest faves.

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The smallest of the BRAVEN SIX series, this sucker still packs a powerful punch. The battery lasts up to 12 hours; it comes with a drawstring pouch, perfect for carrying around; and can even be used to charge your smartphone up to 70%—at the cost of its own battery life, of course. It connects to your music device via Bluetooth, and is perfect for anything from listening to music at home or even to entertaining a small outdoor gathering. And best of all: it easily slips into any carry-on bag.

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Tech Thursday: Chic New Bags for Your Camera

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Finding a good camera bag that is both functional and stylish is a seemingly near-impossible feat, at least in my findings. They’re always bulky, vinyl, sacks, with nothing new or fashionable brought to the table. Yeah, I get it: its primary purpose is to organize and protect your camera and accessories, but why does it have to be so dull? I like a little flare, okay?

So I was pretty excited when I saw the newest line of Acme Made camera bags, which just hit the market this earlier this week. They’re functional, good-looking bags, and come in four different sizes, depending on how much equipment you’ll be carting around with you. You can buy them in olive green and grey, but I’m partial to the grey one, which has a brushed nickel look to it, and a delightfully surprising burst of lime green on the inside. The internal compartments are adjustable and/or collapsible, so you can customize it to suit your needs.

www.acmemade.com; from $29.99.

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Joshua Pramis is the social media editor and resident tech aficionado at Travel + Leisure. Follow him on Twitter: @joshuapramis

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