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Best New E-Readers From CES 2011

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We all know about the iPad and Kindle. Whether on the TV, the side of a bus, or a billboard, you can hardly turn a corner nowadays without seeing an ad for the game-changing devices. They’re everywhere. And while I’m certainly not anti-iPad/Kindle (I absolutely love them), I think it’s important for any traveler to know about and consider all available options.

That being said, there were a truckload of tablets revealed at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas (more than 80!), so I wanted to share a few that I’m most excited about:

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Lonely Planet Consoles Stranded Travelers with Free Apps

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No matter how miserable your shoveling chores were this morning, I bet you wouldn't trade places with a stranded traveler in a snowstorm. Flight delays typically mean another day or five stuck in a strange city without an itinerary.

—That is, unless John Boris can help it.

Over the past year, when severe weather or natural disaster has trapped tourists at the airports, Lonely Planet Americas’s executive vice president and managing director has been making his popular city-guide apps (iPhone, iPod; iPad) completely FREE for download at iTunes for 72 hours. (Normally, they sell for as much as $5.99!)

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Cool and Clever: Virgin Mobile's MiFi 2200

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I'm skeptical of mobile internet gadgets that promise anything more than a snail's-pace speed. But Virgin Mobile's MiFi 2200 Mobile Hotspot surprised me. In random places around New York City (er, that is, random bars in Brooklyn), the slim, tiny device kept me connected via its zippy 3G network.

It nearly made me regret buying the more expensive 3G-enabled iPad for my wife for Christmas. There's a compelling argument for buying the cheaper iPad and pairing it with a mobile WiFi hotspot (several are on the market). With Virgin's MiFi, up to five devices can connect to the same local WiFi network. Of course, that means five devices then compete for the already-modest signal.

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E-reader Showdown: Kindle vs. Nook vs. iPad

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Smart travel is all about consolidation. One of the best ways book-lugging adventurers can streamline is to invest in an e-reader that can store thousands of books—and other reading material—in a single lightweight device. But with so many e-readers on the market, choosing the right one can be maddening. Here's your rope out of the consumer quicksand.

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Travelocity's Thanksgiving Task Force Keeps Flyers Up-to-Date with Twitter

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Today and tomorrow are among the busiest travel days for the entire year, as folks make their ways to visit loved ones for Thanksgiving. If you’re one of the many who will brave the crowded airports (something I have done once, and will never do again), you may not be able to avoid delays, but you can at least get a heads-up.

For the tenth year, Travelocity has set up its Thanksgiving Task Force, which places spotters in 12 airports across the country to monitor and post updates on security wait times, delays and cancellations, and crowd conditions.

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Google to Sponsor Free Inflight Wi-Fi this Holiday Season

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Traveling around the holidays—particularly Thanksgiving—can be challenging, to say the least. The snowy weather, massive crowds of people flocking home to see their families, and surge of flight delays and cancellations can chip away at one's holiday spirit.

Google wants to make travelers' ordeals a little more tolerable (once they make it onto their flights). The company is bringing back its free Wi-Fi for the holidays offer from 2009, but with a twist: instead of offering the service at airports around the country, they’ll be sponsoring free inflight Wi-Fi.

The service—which usually costs passengers $9.99 per flight, through Gogo—will be available on all AirTran, Delta, and Virgin America domestic flights between November 20, 2010 and January 2, 2011.

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Joshua Pramis is an online associate editor and resident tech guru at Travel + Leisure.

Photo courtesy of iStock.

Review: Philips Fidelio DS7550 Portable iPhone/iPod Speaker

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I’m one of those people who can’t go too long without plugging into my iPod, especially when I'm on the road. Luckily, more and more hotels are now furnishing rooms with iPod docks—but plenty others still don’t. And never mind vacation rental homes, which can be all over the place when it comes to amenities.

In situations like that, you either go without or bring something along. (Preferably something that won’t take up too much space in your suitcase.) One option is the Philips Fidelio DS7550 portable iPod speaker dock, which I had the opportunity to borrow this week.

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Review: Attachable Lens for Your Cell Phone

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Like most people, my phone is always with me, and serves as my primary camera for spur-of-the-moment pics. But as a Blackberry user, while the image quality is amazing (for a phone), there aren’t any fun bonus features that come with it.

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Mophie Case Extends Your iPod Touch Battery Life

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There are two electronic devices that I never leave home without: my cell phone and my iPod. I hate being without either; worse than that, I hate when one dies on me when I forget to charge it. So I was pretty excited when I got the chance to try out mophie’s juice pack air, a new add-on device for my iPod Touch that claimed it would just about double the battery life.

I’m not normally one for protective cases—whether it’s my phone, iPod, or other gadget—because they can detract from the device's style. But I actually like the mophie case. It kind of makes me feel like I’m using some sort of Super iPod. (In reality, it doesn’t actually add that much bulk/weight to the device. And if it gave me a few extra days’ worth of juice, it’d be completely worth it for me.)

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Review: T-Mobile's Travel-centric Garminfone

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Sometimes it's really hard to believe that just a few years ago, in order to get where you had to go—especially on road trips, you needed to bring along one or more large, folding paper maps. Then there came websites like MapQuest, which alleviated people the hassle of having to actually figure out how to get from point A to point B. And now with GPS devices built into cell phones, navigating strange places is a breeze, and there's no need to bring anything you wouldn't have with you anyway.

T-Mobile recently released a new smartphone, the Garminfone (Garmin is one of the leading GPS makers in the world), which was specifically designed for travelers constantly on the go. It looks like any other touch screen smartphone (wait until you see just how smart it is), but as soon as you turn the phone on, you know it's made for travelers: there are three large icons on the homepage; one is labeled "Where To?" and the other, "View Map." (The third is for making phone calls.)

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