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CES Download: Best New Travel Gadgets for 2013

Best New Travel Gadgets for 2013: Sony Xperia Z

Over 3,000 exhibitors and 1.85 million square feet of eye-popping innovations later, annual gadget industry gala the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has finally wrapped in Las Vegas, leaving frequent travelers surprised in more ways than one.

An evolutionary, not revolutionary, year for technology, key revelations nonetheless spanned the entire spectrum, including the weird (hooray, Internet-enabled forks), wild (see: self-driving cars), and wacky (enter the robotic spider walkers). Happily, a few—i.e. smartphones and tablets with PC-grade power, Android-powered cameras, and remote home security system—may even make sense to the lay viewer. Big trends in 2013: Smart—a.k.a. online-enabled—everything, mass interconnectivity between gizmos, and growing set-top performance from pocket-sized devices, courtesy of performance-obsessed chipmakers like AMD and Qualcomm.

Related: Best Travel Gadgets

Too busy sprinting between connections to enjoy scene-stealers including 110-inch 4K or OLED (read: ultra-crisp, high-def) televisions and table-sized touchscreens, however? No sweat. Try one of these pocket rockets—among the year's top travel gadgets, and each destined to find a welcome home inside any purse or carry-on—instead. So what if they lack the sheer stopping power of living picture windows the size of billboards? All are infinitely easier to cram in an overhead bin, and infinitely more practical in-flight companion.

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Robert Doisneau, Paris les Halles Free iPad App

Doisneau, Paris les Halles

More than 110,000 visitors attended the Spring 2012 exhibition "Doisneau, Paris les Halles," a collection of photographs that portray the city’s demolished wholesale food market at the Hotel de Ville. The exhibition was timely: the old structures are being torn down. But if you missed the show—or were discouraged by the lines and the weather—it’s not too late to capture an enhanced digital experience. Now, you can download the free iPad application, which includes photographs, interviews, and special reports.

Paris-based Tina Isaac is a contributor to TravelandLeisure.com.

Photo courtesy of Doisneau Paris les Halles

New Year's Eve in Times Square: The App

Times Square New Year's app

In this digital age, it seems that we’re constantly hearing someone say “there’s an app for that.” Well, if you’ve always wanted to be in New York’s Times Square for New Year’s Eve, but never wanted to deal with the crowds, T+L can help…There’s an app for that!

The 2013 Times Square Ball App offers the chance to have your face flash on the big screens of Times Square during its iconic December 31st celebrations. Submit your New Year’s Eve photos to the app, and whichever images receive the most “likes” will appear on the Toshiba Vision sign - located at the center of attention underneath the famous crystal ball.

On top of the photo contest, the app also lets you stream a commercial-free webcast of the Times Square festivities on your phone or tablet. Hosted by TV and radio personality Allison Hagendorf (host of "The Next" on the CW), the show will cover all of the musical acts, celebrity appearances, and of course, the midnight countdown and Ball Drop.

To download the free app, available on Android and Apple mobile devices, visit timessquareball.net.

Peter Schlesinger is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

Photo courtesy of Toshiba

This Week in Social Travel News: 12/21/12

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In celebration of the world not ending today*, I decided to start a new blog series highlighting the top social media travel news of the week, for anyone that may have missed the headlines. In the news big this week? Privacy policies.

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Trip Doctor: Hotel Tonight Launches in Mexico and Europe

Hotel Tonight app

Listen up, last-minute travelers: our favorite last-minute booking tool has gone international. As of last week, you can use Hotel Tonight (free on iPhone and Android) to make same-day room reservations in cities like Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels, and Acapulco, in addition to the app's growing list of domestic destinations. Better yet, Hotel Tonight has simultaneously added a Gift Credits program—a digital gift card of sorts that you can share with friends—perfect for those perpetually delayed travelers who constantly find themselves on cancelled flights (we know a few of these folks, ourselves).

Among today's deals, we're excited about Edinburgh's sleek Dakota Hotel ($108 tonight) and the posh Boscolo Exedra in Nice ($155 tonight), both bargains that are tough to pass up. Of course, last-minute international airfares can put a wrench in your spontaneous plans, so don't jump the gun before getting a full picture.

For more of our favorite apps and websites, check out T+L's recent roundup of the web's best.

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 Hotel Tonight

Trip Doctor: Google Maps App Released on iOS

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Were you one of the countless iPhone users that felt like hitting your head against a wall after updating your phone to iOS6 and subsequently coming face-to-face with the horror that was/is Apple Maps? While the upgrade was welcome in other aspects of the phone, the map feature was universally declared a mapocalypse by the entire tech community. A handful of major landmarks went missing; public transportation stops were nowhere to be found; and if you wanted navigation help on a city’s subway or bus system, forget about it. Even Apple CEO Tim Cook acknowledged the major blunder, so you know it was bad.

But now iOS users can rejoice. As of Wednesday evening, Google Maps made its way back onto iPhones via a new, free app. The minute I saw the story posted on my Facebook newsfeed, I reached for my phone and pulled up the App Store. It was as though the clouds parted and angels sang to me. (Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but I was pretty darn excited.) What are the new features you can expect to see (and love)? Hint: these maps far supersede their former iOS iteration.

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Latest Travel Tech Innovations

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We love Day 1 of the annual PhoCusWright conference—the Travel Innovation Summit. A full 30 companies present; some are startups, some are existing companies introducing new products; four judges then give feedback (which ranges from encouraging to blistering). The day offers a snapshot of where we are in the evolution of travel technology.

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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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Finding Lost or Stolen Gadgets

lost gadgets

If you’ve ever reached into your carry-on only to find an empty space where your phone, computer, or camera used to be, you know how thoroughly a lost or stolen gadget can ruin your trip. Fortunately, there are services to help track down your missing gear and protect you against identity theft. GadgetTrak Mobile Security ($19.95 per year) brings the features built in to Windows Phone and iOS to Android and BlackBerry users: it will locate your phone using GPS and Wi-Fi and can also lock the device or wipe your data—even if someone inserts another SIM card. CameraTrace ($10 per camera) tracks a registered camera using metadata embedded in digital photos, so it can find any pictures taken with your camera that have been uploaded to one of many popular image-sharing sites.

Knowing the location of your device is useful if you’ve simply misplaced it, but in the case of theft, it won’t do you much good without the help of the law. Unfortunately, limited resources mean few police departments will bother pursuing stolen tech gear. But when a laptop enabled with LoJack for Laptops (from $19.99 per year) is reported stolen, the program’s forensic tools automatically contact LoJack for Laptops’s central command every 15 minutes, making it easy to collect evidence that police can use for, say, a search warrant. “We have about 60 ex-police officers working for us,” says Mark Grace of Absolute Software, the company behind this product, “and they know how to work with law enforcement authorities across the globe to get these cases solved.”

Photo by David Alexander Arnold

American Airlines to Allow iPads in the Cockpit

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In an effort to save money on fuel costs, American Airlines requested, and subsequently received, permission from the FAA, to allow its pilots to replace their often bulky kitbag (a 35-pound paper-based reference manual pilots tote around with them at all times) with iPads. The iPads would be loaded with all the documentation the kitbags contain, but take up far less space and, at about 1.5 pounds, make their loads much lighter. AA said that this reduction in weight will save the airline as much as $1.2 million, based on current fuel prices.

Let’s just hope that the pilot doesn’t forget to charge it before takeoff…or get too distracted by a game of Angry Birds.

2010-hs-josh-pramisjpgJoshua Pramis is the social media editor and resident tech aficionado at Travel + Leisure. Follow him on Twitter: @joshuapramis

Photo: Pixellover RM 8 / Alamy

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