Seeing as we're on the run up to Christmas, this week I'm going to cover a few geeky products for travelers, road warriors (gad, but I hate that term), and gadget freaks that I've wanted to cover for a while and that you might wish to give or receive ... and they all get a Gearhead rating of 5 out of 5!
My first must-have pick is something that has many uses when traveling, the least of which would be to make it easier to identify your luggage in low light conditions (OK, that's a stretch but work with me here, people, work with me).
Yes, ShurTech Brands, the purveyors of Duck Brand Duck Tape now offer a Glow in the Dark version! How have we lived without this? $9.49 for 1.88 inches by 10 feet. Everyone in my family should expect a roll of this in their Christmas stockings this year.
I've tried the Mophie Juice Pack Plus for the iPhone 4 and 4S and it's terrific! It's one of the easiest designs to slide your iPhone into and out of and, providing 2,000 mAh, it more than doubles the run time of the iPhone 4 (which has a 1,420mAh battery) and the iPhone 4S (1,432mAh).
At $99.95 the Mophie Juice Pack will power you through the holidays and quite possibly beyond.
Verbatim Dual USB Power Pack
If you're a serious traveller and the idea of your iPad (or whatever device you're using to stave off terminal boredom) running out of juice when you're halfway across the Atlantic fills you with dread, then the Verbatim Dual USB Power Pack might be the perfect solution.
This 10,000 mAh battery weighs a reasonable 0.717 pounds and provides two USB ports to simultaneously charge or power two devices. Verbatim claims a full charge can add "up to 42 hours of additional talk time, 120 hours of music time or 30 hours of additional video play" to an iPhone 4S.
I've carried it on several trips and, while it's a little larger than other solutions, the extra power means you can turn up the volume on your sounds and know you can drown out the endlessly crying baby in the seat behind you all the way to Hong Kong. I've found this product for as little as $44.06 online!
Sound Clarity S1450A In Ear Triple with Ear Hook
My beloved can't wear the earbud-style headphones that come with Apple products because, for reasons that I have yet to determine, they simply will not stay in her ears.
Then Ableplanet sent me their Sound Clarity S1450A In Ear Triple with Ear Hook (Black with Gun Metal Chrome) earphones to test. They were immediately loved by my beloved because they actually fit her ears comfortably, they didn't fall out, and the sound quality is outstanding!
The Sound Clarity S1450As provide a good amount of exterior sound isolation, includes something the company calls LINX AUDIO that enhances reproduced sound, and the cord includes a multi-function controller with microphone so you can play, pause and advance music as well as answer and hang up calls.
At $99.99 this is an excellent choice for travelers and those with what marketing types refer to as an "active lifestyle." They also won't fall out of your ears when you fall asleep on the way to Hong Kong.
Credit: IDG News Service
If your lifestyle is rather more rugged than mine, you may need this iPad case. It's called the LifeProof Nüüd and, yes, the company has cornered the umlaut market (digression: why isn't umlaut spelled "ümlaüt"?).
The Nüüd is the most determined attempt I have yet seen to allow you to take your iPad 2, 3, or 4 where no iPad was meant to go, which includes water (to 6.6 feet), dirt (including dust), snow (though I'm not sure how avalanche proof it might be), and shock (to military drop survivability specifications, no less).
The high impact plastic housing is engineered to a tolerance that requires that you do not use a screen protector and the instructions walk you through detailed testing before you commit your precious electronics to their protective embrace. What's really intriguing is that once your iPad is locked into the housing the screen, without any other protection, is sealed by a gasket all the way around! There's no add-on screen protector!
All of the ports and buttons are also sealed and the company's "patent pending Sound Enhancement System" means you can still hear the iPad's speaker! Even underwater!
I have examined this product very carefully and tried it with my iPad and I believe it will do the job but, as yet, I have not had the nerve to throw my Nüüd iPad into the water, bury it in snow, or drag it through the mud (or shoüld that be müd?). Call me chicken. At $99.99 his may be the best iPad ruggedization product I've seen so far.
Nomad 7 Solar Panel
If your perambulations should take you far afield whence there is no power available and all of your battery boosters have run out of juice, the Goal Zero Nomad 7 Solar Panel is what you're going to want.
This $99.99 kit can recharge a cellphone in 2 hours or less (depending on which brand) and its USB port can, in full sunlight, provide 5V at 0.5A ... not enough to charge an iPad but certainly enough for recharging your booster batteries. It also has a 12V, 0.2A port and comes with a cigarette adapter.
Goal Zero also offers the 0.4 pound Guide 10 Plus Battery Pack for $59.95 which provides a 2,000 mAh power source that can be recharged by the Nomad 7 in 2 to 4 hours.
I recently got the Nomad 7 out to test and, with uncanny timing, the rain clouds moved into Southern California, but with what little sunlight we've had, it works great and is nicely engineered. If you're a serious traveler and likely to go "off the grid", the Nomad 7 Solar Panel might be just what you need.