Best Travel Gadgets of 2009
Kodak Zx1 Pocket Video Camera
Pros: This pocket-size camcorder-camera takes crisp high-def video, and uploading to YouTube is easy thanks to the built-in USB connector.
Cons: An 8GB memory card takes only one hour of HD video, and the camera’s still-picture quality isn’t great.
Bottom Line: It’s ideal for filming quick movies, but keep your point-and-shoot. kodak.com; $149.
Panasonic Lumix G1
Pros: The first digital camera with inter-changeable lenses that has the precision of a professional-grade (12.1-megapixel) SLR model. Plus, it’s super-compact.
Cons: It runs through the battery quickly (we took only 250 shots over the course of three days before the camera died).
Bottom Line Great for both professionals and amateurs. panasonic.com; $800.
Fujifilm Finepix Z33WP
Pros: Waterproof up to 10 feet, this 10-megapixel digicam automatically tags your subjects and has an in-camera tool for uploading images to the Internet.
Cons: The camcorder feature takes footage that’s good enough for the Web, but not much else.
Bottom Line: A waterproof, 10-megapixel, full-featured camera at this price is a steal. fujifilmusa.com; $200.
Sony DSC-G3 Cyber-Shot
Pros: A 10.1-megapixel dual-purpose camera with built-in wireless; it lets you upload images and videos to online sharing services such as Flickr from any Wi-Fi hotspot.
Cons: The touch screen isn’t always responsive, and the Wi-Fi setup can be confusing, even for a techie.
Bottom Line: High-quality images combined with the convenience of uploading without a laptop or external hard drive. sonystyle.com; $500.
HP Mini 1000 MI Edition
Pros: This 10.3-by-6-inch netbook has a fast start-up because of its Linux operating system, and the on-screen tabs for mail, music, and movies make for easy navigation.
Cons: It’s difficult to type quickly on the keyboard, and the custom interface may turn off purists who like their Windows the traditional way.
Bottom Line: Impressive performance at a great price. hp.com; $425.
Adamo by Dell
Pros: Though not technically a netbook, this pint-size 13.4-inch laptop almost competes in the category; it has an aluminum-and-glass casing, a high-resolution screen, and a dual-core processor for speed.
Cons: For the sake of slimness, the Adamo forgoes many features you’d expect from a laptop, such as a built-in memory-card slot and a DVD drive.
Bottom Line: This is the first PC that comes close to the simplicity and stylishness of a Mac. adamobydell.com; $1,999.
Samsung NC10 Mini Notebook
Pros: Despite a compact 10.2-inch screen, the nearly full-size keyboard is a typist’s dream.
Cons: The actual netbook is slightly bigger than other models and lacks a built-in broadband modem.
Bottom Line: Our pick for those who work on the road but don’t want to lug around a full-size office laptop. samsung.com; $439.
Sony Vaio P Series Lifestyle PC
Pros: At 9.65 by 4.72 inches, it’s the smallest of all the netbooks and slim enough to fit in a jacket pocket. Its oblong shape is stylish, too.
Cons: The built-in pointer stick that serves as a mouse is almost impossible to control, so you’ll need to add a real mouse to make this work.
Bottom Line: The VAIO has drawbacks owing to its diminutive size, but its portability and sleek design can’t be beat. sonystyle.com; $900.
Pros: Though smaller than a BlackBerry, the Pre still has a big, iPhone-esque screen, a real keyboard, and excellent high-speed Wi-Fi that can locate a restaurant on Google Maps when you type in just a few letters.
Cons: The keyboard is more cramped than the BlackBerry’s, and for now, the number of cool applications pales in comparison with what’s available for the iPhone.
Bottom Line: An ideal fusion between the business- and e-mail-ready BlackBerry and the fun-loving iPhone (minus the apps). palm.com; price unavailable at press time.
Pros: It’s the first phone to use Google’s new Android operating system, which includes a set of free apps that will soon rival that of the iPhone—Wikitude uses the G1’s GPS to find hotels, eateries, and activities near your current location.
Cons: You’ll need an adapter if you want to listen to music with your own headphones, and the “missed call” indicator is bizarrely complicated.
Bottom Line: The design is bulky, but the Android OS has a big future—if possible, hold out for an updated model, bound to come out later this year. t-mobileg1.com; $180.
BlackBerry Curve 8900 Smartphone
Pros: All the latest BlackBerry features in a slimmer, half-inch-thick package. Bonus: calls are transmitted via the Internet whenever you’re in a Wi-Fi hotspot, saving you minutes (or roaming charges when abroad).
Cons: Surfing the Web is slower than on the iPhone. And it’s currently only available on T-Mobile (Verizon Wireless, Sprint, and AT&T service is expected in a few months).
Bottom Line: If you need your cell to double as a work PDA, the Curve is your best bet. blackberry.com; $200.
Pros: This 8-megapixel camera phone has a 2.64-inch touch screen that makes taking pictures as easy as it is with a regular camera. Photos can be cropped and edited before being uploaded to the Web or to a computer via Bluetooth, USB, or memory-card adapter.
Cons: A sluggish touch screen makes texting and maneuvering around other functions like GPS, instant messaging, and playing music difficult. The camera lacks an optical zoom, so it’s hard to take quality pictures from far away.
Bottom Line: One of the best phones for photos on the market. samsung.com; $250.
Dedicated translators are the easiest and most comprehensive solutions for translating on the go. We like the Lingo Xplorer, equipped with both text and audio versions in 14 languages, including French, Chinese, Spanish, Hebrew, and Arabic. Sure, it’s big, but it’s lighter than most printed phrase books. lingotravel.com; $250.
Best Travel Gadgets of 2009
BOSE Mobile On-Ear Headset
Victorinox Presentation Pro
Amazon Kindle 2
Thinner (0.36 inches) and lighter (10.2 ounces) than its predecessor, Amazon’s latest-generation e-reader—with a crisper image, longer battery life, and a new text-to-speech feature that lets you turn books, newspapers, magazines, or blogs into audiobooks—is the finest of its kind. amazon.com; $359.
Best Travel Gadgets of 2009