Interactive Traveler: New Headphones, Hailing Taxis
Bose Quietcomfort Headset
WHAT THEY ARE: Headphones that filter out ambient noise.
PACKABILITY: The six-by-eight-inch zippered case is a bit bulky—but will also hold your CD player and discs.
PLUSES: Airplane bliss. Until now, I had no idea how loud jet engines are, or how pathetic airline headsets sound (the Bose headset comes with attachments that let you listen to the plane's movies and music, or your own CD player).
MINUSES: See "Cost." Also, forget about wearing big earrings.
COMFORT LEVEL: Though my ears are sensitive to headphones,I even slept in them.
VERDICT: Never another long flight without them.
COST: $299 (ouch). To order, call 800/650-2673.
Your Car, Madam
Don't bother standing curbside to hail a taxi—try your palmYou know the feeling: you're in an unfamiliar city and you need a cab, but you don't have a number to call. Thanks to a new, free, 24-hour service called iQtaxi, you can arrange transportation easily wherever you are—using your wireless personal digital assistant or Internet-enabled cell phone. iQtaxi processes your pickup time and place, drop-off location, and choice of car (taxi, sedan, or limousine), then contacts a pre-screened provider from a network of 1,100 car companies nationwide. A confirmation is sent to you within minutes, and agents are available to call a backup if your ride is slow to show. 888/408-2492; www.iqtaxi.com.
Surfing For All
Air Canada, Cathay Pacific,and Singapore Airlines have already begun testing selective airborne Internet access in their first and business classes. Now Virgin Atlantic has joined in, promising to be the first to install it at seats throughout its aircraft. Virgin expects the rollout to be complete by year's end, but the other airlines are vowing to beat them to it.
Hotels Get Up To Speed
Proof that hotels are waking up to the importance of staying connected on the road: Starwood Hotels (Westin, Sheraton, Luxury Collection, St. Regis, W, and Four Points) recently announced that it will be installing high-speed, in-room Internet access at most of its 725 properties worldwide. Starwood's new technology—developed by Cisco Systems—will allow guests with Ethernet-equipped laptops to surf at a blazing 15 megabits per second. Connections are also entirely secure, so business travelers can log on to their internal company networks without fear. The rollout is scheduled to be complete by 2003; the cost of using the service hasn't been set.