Spring Break – Take-Along Technology Adds Vroom to Your Vacation

Take-Along Technology Adds Vroom to Your Vacation

By Judy Jefferson

Now that the weather is finally taking a turn for the better and warmer days are just around the corner, it’s time to take a serious look at some serious fun.

For a lot of people, that means digging out your favorite pair of shorts, checking the SPF rating on your suntan lotion and packing your bags for a trip to a vacation hot spot. What better way to kick back and shake off the winter blues than on a warm sandy beach and tropical ocean. Or, if you really don’t mind the cold, perhaps a trip up north to take in some spring skiing.

Whatever your vacation preference, it is important to take along the right technology to keep you connected, in sync and in touch with friends, families and maybe even co-workers if you really have a hard time going cold turkey. You’ll also want to have the latest tech gadget to keep you on the go-go as you listen to GaGa on your iPod, iPad, iTouch or iAnything that helps increase the fun quotient.

The following are some product recommendations from the editors at TechnologyGuide, who are always ready to forego a fashionable tan and a day at the beach to spend some time with the coolest products and high-tech toys. Their picks are sure to turn some heads in Cancun, South Padre Island or wherever your break takes you.

HP and Apple’s Light and Lean Mobile Machines

There are lots of advantages to having your notebook PC along on vacation, aside from checking in with the office working on that long-overdue budget spreadsheet. A lot of people rely on their notebooks to store personal image and music files, edit digital videos on the fly, keep tabs on their social network, and keep up with what is happening locally and internationally while away. The key point is to find a system that is thin and light enough to carry when traveling, especially if you are hoping to get through airports doing the TSA Shuffle through security checkpoints.

The HP Pavilion dm1z (for Windows fans) and Apple MacBook Air (for Mac zealots) are perfect travelling companions since these systems are extremely portable and provide impressive performance in terms of multi-tasking, video streaming, and even gaming. More important, both of these notebooks deliver fantastic battery life (more than 6 hours). Of course, the biggest reason to choose either of these laptops (since you are on vacation, after all) is the fact that they’re small enough to fit on an airline tray table and still leave room for a drink and a bag of peanuts.

 

Read NotebookReview’s reviews of the HP Pavilion dm1z and Apple MacBook Air.

iPad 2:Sun and Surf with Apple’s Sequel

When it comes to a compact, all-in-one package for you to take along on your spring break, the Apple iPad 2 has it covered. Weighing in at 1.33 pounds, the iPad 2 is lightweight and luggable. Features include a front-facing camera and Apple’s Facetime app that provides video chatting to keep in touch with your friends and family while you’re away on your trip. The iPad 2 and its predecessor also provide access to Hulu and Netflix, letting you stream your favorite movies and television shows to keep you entertained during those slow times or unfortunate rainy days.

The iPad 2 is also a fully capable eReader with Apple’s iBooks app, and supports both Kindle and Nook apps that allow you to enjoy hundreds of thousands of different books on the go, during your flight, or when you’re just relaxing on the beach or by the pool.

If that’s not enough, the iPad 2 is a doorway to the Apple App store, which has an app for virtually any need you can imagine. Also, between Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity options on Verizon or AT&T, the Apple tablet ensures that you’re almost always connected, no matter where you go

Read TabletPCReview’s evaluation of the Apple iPad 2 and review of the original Apple iPad

Touched by an iPod

Few items are more fun to pack along on vacation than an Apple iPod Touch. Of course, this handy little device can store and play a huge array of music, but that’s just the beginning. There are tens of thousands of games for it available on the iTunes Store Website, most available for just 99 cents. And, when you need a break from the vacation mayhem, you can catch up on your favorite TV shows and movies as well.

It’s not a phone, but as long as you have a Wi-Fi connection you can keep in touch with friends and family back home via email or the social networking service of your choice. You can even do video chatting, thanks to its front-facing camera. Last, but hardly least, the iPod Touch also has a very capable Web browser, which will help you keep up with the rest of the world and make sure your FaceBook page is up to date.

Check out Brighthand’s review of theiPod Touch.

Canon Selphy CP800: Road ready and vacation bound

Canon

Most people wouldn’t think of packing a printer along with their suntan lotion and flip-flops as they head out for spring break or summer vacation. Why would they, considering the added burden of power cords, ink/toner and the sheer size of most printers, which might raise a few eyebrows from traveling companions and airport security types.

But, having quick access to a printer to churn out a quick map or itinerary, or print some photos on the spot, isn’t a bad idea provided the unit is small and flexible enough to fit neatly into your vacation plans. That’s where the new Canon Selphy CP800 comes in. It’s a dye sub printer, meaning it uses a ribbon cartridge to lay four layers of color down on photo paper, nixing the messy ink or toner found in traditional printers.

The Selphy CP800 also sports an ultra compact footprint for easy storage in a car or suitcase, and it comes with an optional battery pack making it truly portable on any vacation be it a beach, national park or even a cattle ranch.

Read PrinterComparison’s review of the Canon Selphy CP800

Rough Rider:Olympus Stylus Tough 3000

OlympusIt’s hard to predict what kind of situation you’ll find yourself in on a spring vacation. Sudden downpours? Rocky terrain? Spilled margaritas? All bad news for a typical compact digital camera. The Olympus Stylus Tough 3000 can withstand those conditions and much worse. It’s waterproof to 10 feet, freeze-proof to 14 degrees Fahrenheit and shock-proof up to a five foot drop. In short, it can sustain more potential injuries than your average Spring Break college student.

The really good news? At $200, the Stylus 3000 is one of the most affordable rugged cameras on the market. It’s also equipped with a 2.7-inch LCD and a 720p HD video recording capability – providing more than enough resources to document your vacation fun and follies. We liked the Tough 3000’s good image quality and performance under harsh conditions, though the battery life falls a bit short of the competition. So, make sure to snag an extra lithium-ion battery and you’ll be more than ready for takeoff.

Read DigitalCameraReview’s evaluation of theOlympus Stylus Tough 3000.

LogMeIn’s Long Arm of Remote Access and Control

No matter how much you love your desktop PC, there is just no way you can take it with you on vacation without buying a second airline seat. Packing your PC along would be a chore even if you are talking about one of the new small form factor systems, like the Dell Zino HD or the Mac Mini, both of which pack a lot of power into a very small footprint.

Rather than suffer PC withdrawal, you can continue to bond with your home-bound system using a remote access and desktop control application that lets you control your distant PC and view its screen just like you were sitting right there in front of it. One solution that works very well is LogMeIn, available both in a free limited-capability edition for accessing a single PC, or for about $70/year for a full version Pro Edition that can be used across multiple computers.

LogMeIn works with both Windows and OS X, and you can access your computer from most web browsers without any router configuration necessary. The Pro Edition also allows remote audio streaming and file sharing/synchronization, so you can tap into your music files for some late night dancing and transfer your vacation photos for sharing with at-home friends or safe-keeping.

A great follow-up is the Remote Desktop Connection built into Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7. It can actually have superior performance to some commercial clients, but requires users to be savvy enough to change router configurations and firewall setups to allow remote connections from extra-network computers.

Read DesktopReview’s LogMeIn review and evaluation.

Footloose and Carefree with Your Kindle

The Amazon Kindle is quite possibly the best travel buddy a techie—or anybody, for that matter—could have. It’s sleek and ultra-portable, weighing only 8.7 ounces, but still has the capacity to pack in up to 3,500 books. With an exceptional battery life that can last for as long as a month, a single charge is probably all you’ll need to ensure that your Kindle lasts for the entire duration of your trip. The Kindle also has plenty of other appealing features to earn a spot in your suitcase for this year’s spring break.

Thanks to eInk technology that provides an ink-on-paper-like display, the Kindle is ideally suited for reading in direct sunlight. So if you’re looking to enjoy a book while also enjoying the nice weather down by the pool, the Kindle has a glare-free experience waiting for you.

If you’re looking to catch up on your backlog of titles, access to hundreds of classics for free ensures that you always have something to read. You can also satisfy college professors who couldn’t care less about spring break and make vacation assignments, since the Kindle eBook store stocks tons of textbooks and other non-vacation-related reading material.

It’s not just an eReader, though: the Kindle makes sure you stay connected with a basic web browser and a Wi-Fi + 3G model…and the 3G service is free!

Read TabletPCReview’s Amazon Kindle review.