Best New Travel Gadgets for 2014
From wearable computers and cloud-connected cars to design-forward chargers—not to mention enough noise-canceling headphones and Bluetooth wireless speakers that’d make even the most ardent audiophile hit the mute button—the gadgets making their debuts at the 2014 International CES in Las Vegas last week promise to add extra levels of convenience and enjoyment to travelers in the coming months.
Like the ability for consumers to remotely view digital content as they travel—or at least easily bring it with them. Be it beamed from a Dish Network DVR or LaCie’s slick wireless Fuel drive, Samsung’s oversize new tablet offers a gorgeous way to watch. And thanks to a double-whammy product from Mophie, iPhone owners also have one less scourge of the information age to contend with: storage space. Curating playlists before a plane ride is 2013’s problem.
Travelers will also have even more vivid ways to document their next adventures, thanks to Sony, whether that’s with a near-21-megapixel smartphone that goes underwater or a handheld camcorder that shoots in extreme high-def (Ultra HD being another top trend this year). To show it all off, Korea’s Sekonix has a projector that fits on a key chain.
This year’s CES featured a record 3,500 exhibitors and 2 million square feet of convention space. After a week of scouring, we found the most promising new devices and technologies to take on your next trip.
Read on for some of the best new travel tech of 2014.
Basis Carbon Steel Edition
Admit it: that big bowl of carbonara tastes a lot better when you know you’ve walked 17,000 steps at the Roman Forum. Our preferred fitness band, the Basis Carbon Steel Edition, shown here with the colorful Electric Spring strap ($35), can track your steps and more. See how much you’ve run, cycled, or slept on vacation—then get detailed feedback about your habits (results include everything from calories burned to minutes of deep slumber). $199, mybasis.com.
Sony FDR-AX100 4K Handycam Camcorder
What’s better than a smartphone that shoots in full 1080p HD video? The world’s first handheld consumer camcorder that shoots in 4K, the current top-of-the-line standard in televisions. That means even more realistic detail in those lavish panorama shots—four times the resolution of HD—whether viewed on Vimeo or a 50-inch-plus TV. Available March. $2,000; store.sony.com
Mophie Space Pack
Mophie’s latest essential addition to your travel arsenal not only doubles the battery life of your iPhone, it doubles the data storage—up to 32 gigabytes worth—creating enough space for all your media, be it movies and tunes for a 19-hour flight to Sydney or tons of vacation snaps. A companion app integrates seamlessly with iTunes and photo gallery, allowing you to access and manage any file you may have downloaded from an email, from text documents to movies. Available March. $150; mophie.com
Samsung Galaxy NotePro 12.2-inch Tablet
With a massive 12.2-inch screen—bigger than even the iPad Air’s 9.7-inch screen—the Galaxy NotePro is the ideal tablet for avid in-flight movie watchers and road warriors who can’t unplug while on vacation. (Indeed, it’s getting into laptop-size territory.) The bigger screen offers other benefits: more space for doodling, note-taking, and comment making on the included S Pen; and Multi Window, which lets you work in four different apps at the same time. Available late January. Price to be announced; samsung.com
Syncing enough—or the right—movies to your iPad, laptop, or iPhone before you head out on vacation is always a challenge, since even the 120 GB of space on the biggest iPad Air is still measly when you have a whole season of The Good Wife to burn through (not to mention all those Arthur episodes, in HD no less, that you want to bring along for the kids). With its 1TB of storage, the sandwich-size LaCie Fuel takes the planning guesswork out, streaming more than 500 movies (or 160,000 images or 190,000 photos) to up to five devices simultaneously. $200; lacie.com
Canon PowerShot N100
Feeling left out of photos? The Canon PowerShot N100’s nifty Dual Camera mode cribs from the smartphone playbook (see: Samsung Galaxy S4, iOS Frontback app) to shoot images using the front and rear cameras simultaneously, then sticks your selfie into the main portrait. A Story Highlights Mode also automatically compiles a chronological collection of your images and video, so you don’t have to. Better than a smartphone, a bigger sensor means higher-quality images, and a pivoting screen allows overhead and underhand shooting with precision and ease. Available May. $350; shop.usa.canon.com
Able Planet Linx Fusion Noise-Canceling Headphones
By using the same kind of haptic technology found in cell phone touchscreens—the kind that makes it feel as though you’re actually pressing buttons—Able Planet’s next-gen noise-canceling headphones transmit audio via your ear, skin, and bone, resulting in clear sound regardless of outside noise, and at a volume that’s 70 decibels lower than standard headphones, minimizing the risk of ear damage. They’re also good for anyone hard of hearing, since they don’t transmit entirely via traditional sound waves. Available February. $350; ableplanet.com
Sekonix DLP Pico Keychain Projector
The world’s smallest projector is no bigger than a tea sandwich and can fit unobtrusively into almost any pocket or handbag, yet it’s still able to project movies or vacation videos onto any flat surface in DVD-quality resolution (no HD at this size—yet). Just plug the projector into your smartphone, tablet, or PC via USB, and, presto, it’s movie time. Available first half of 2014. $199; dlp.com
Soundmatters FoxL DASH7 Portable Sound Bar
Of the hundreds of wireless Bluetooth speakers aiming at your travel dollar, the FoxL DASH7 offers the perfect mix of features: portable size not much bigger than a pencil box, hi-fi clarity and quality in its audio delivery (thanks to two “twoofers” that combine the functions of a tweeter and subwoofer), and about 12 hours of battery life. Though it came out in December in red, white, and black, the DASH7’s latest finish—platinum silver—debuted at CES, along with the slightly smaller DASH a, designed specifically for the Kindle Fire. $220 (DASH7), $149 (DASH a); soundmatters.com
Monoprice Enhanced Noise-Canceling Earphones
The Bose QuietComfort 20i may be the best in-ear, active noise-canceling earbuds around, but at $300 they’re a luxury. For less than a third of the cost, Monoprice’s bang-for-your-buck alternative solidly blocks out sound while still delivering good bass and discernible dialogue, albeit at a less pristine quality in tune with its price point. A single AAA powers 50 hours of use. $79; monoprice.com
Lenovo X1 Carbon
At 2.8 pounds, the Lenovo X1 Carbon is the lightest 14-inch laptop in the world—weighing even less than the 13-inch MacBook Air. Its battery lasts up to nine hours on a single charge (and charges up to 80 percent in an hour, in case you need significant juice during a short layover). Bonus: the full-size, no-compromise keyboard offers a space-saving adaptive bar at the top that swaps a row of function keys depending on what you’re doing, whether surfing the Web or chatting on Skype. From $1,300; lenovo.com
Dish Anywhere Hopper Transfers
Want to access HBO GO abroad or on the plane? Tough luck. Current TV seasons won't stream nice over international borders or on in-air Wi-Fi. Subscribers to Dish, however, now have the ability to use their sling-enabled HD DVR and the Dish Anywhere app to transfer recorded shows from any channel onto their iPhones, iPads, Android devices, and soon, Kindle Fires, and watch them offline, whether they’re en route to Denver or chilling out in Denmark. Plans from $30 per month; dish.com
There’s about to be an app for that—in your car’s dash. Debuting in select 2015 models, the Chevrolet AppShop improves on smartphone integration of third-party apps by offering seamless, native-to-the-car performance, bigger buttons, and the ability to either use the built-in OnStar 4G LTE broadband by AT&T or your own cell phone for accessing the cloud. Inaugural travel apps include Priceline, which lets you search for good hotel rates near you (ideal for road trips), the Weather Channel, CitySeeker (nearby tourist attractions, restaurants, and shops), TuneIn Radio (streaming more than 100,000 stations across the globe), and Glympse (share your location with other Glympse users or on social media). Available in 2015 Chevrolet models by end of 2014. chevrolet.com
Sony Xperia Z1S
Sony’s 2014 update of its flagship Xperia is arguably the best Android camera phone for adventurers on the market: a 20.7-megapixel camera and BIONZ image processor (the same one used in Sony’s stand-alone cameras) produce clear and colorful, low-light shots. Plus, it’s waterproof (a dedicated shutter button even allows shooting underwater). Available now on T-Mobile with unlimited international roaming on a Simple Choice Plan. $528; sonymobile.com
Tylt Energi 2K
Besides looking slick in vibrant yellow, red, or blue, the Energi 2K acts it, serving two functions that haven’t been widely available in portable power devices so far: it’s an AC adapter for your iPhone, iPad, and other USB-powered devices, plus it’s an external battery that can power your phone on one charge (no full iPad yet). Best of all, you can charge your device and the Energi 2K’s battery simultaneously. Available midyear. $40; tylt.com
Nobody would have ever accused a smart watch of being stylish, until now: slimmer and smaller with a Gorilla Glass screen and a more traditional horological design—brushed stainless and black matte steel with optional leather strap—the Pebble Steel offers the same weeklong battery life and waterproof capability as its pioneering, Kickstarter-funded predecessor, as well as access to the Pebble App Store. Launching late January, the store lets you directly download wrist-ready apps such as Google Maps, Yelp, and Foursquare. $249; getpebble.com