The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas took its share of the headlines last week as more than 150,000 buyers and attendees browsed some 2,700 booths sporting the latest, most advanced user-friendly technology on the planet. And while plenty of 3-D screens and where-have-you-been-hiding sound systems took their places in the parade, there were plenty of gizmos, gadgets and just plain great new widgets for travelers and those who work with them to ratchet up the excitement barometer as well.
Make no mistake – breakthrough announcements were not to be found at this show. And for our agent audience, many of them who have already voiced a somewhat disinterested stance when it comes to adopting new digital tools, according to ASTA’s 2011 Technology and Web Usage Report, breakthrough may not be the interest at hand. Rather, we report to you a gentle overview looking at what trends in consumer electronics are afoot that may become players in how travel is distributed and become trusted tools taken on the road by travelers.
The buzzword this year, for travelers was chargers – lightweight, portable, easy to use, ready to serve.
The Powerbag. This item comes in backpack, strap bag and roller bag form and contains a battery charger within with charger cables to keep the juice flowing through iPads, iPods and iPhones while you walk or wherever you roll. $139-$249. www.bluewolfden.com
Hyperjuice. If you carry a Macbook of any kind, chances are you don’t have that emergency power source on hand just when the lights go our – be it during a plane flight or during a meeting when you realize you have left your power cord back at your desk. Hyperjuice is the only charger that keeps Mac maniacs in action long after their computer has gone to sleep. Weighs half a pound for an extra 20 hours of power. Costs $169.95. WWW.hyperjuice.com
Boostcase. Need a boost of vibrancy and vim for your iPhone 4? Boostcase can help with its snap-on hard cases in seven neon hues and slip on/slip off battery extender that adds an ounce or two to your phone but juices it right up just in the nick of time. The battery usually lasts two years but a lifetime warranty that comes with the case ensures your phone will never go dark. $79. www.boostcase.com.
Samsonite has come out with the stylish Fashion Laptop Tote — a lightweight, zipper secure, grab ‘n go purse, paneled with handy pockets and deep with room to stuff magazines and books. A featherweight quilted 15.5-inch computer sleeve fits right in. Charcoal outside, pink inside. Water-resistant nylon fabric. $79. www.samsonite.com.
Zagg, the company responsible for cool tablet and iPad charger cases has rolled out a flexible wysiwyg keyboard that brings a Bluetooth sync to tablets and smartphones for easy texting, typing and note-taking on the go when taking a computer proves too inconvenient. $79. www.Zagg.com.
Step on the plane with your fashionista headphones designed by Philippe Starck. The ZIK Parrot Bluetooth headphones keep the ambient noise down while comfortably amping up the smartphone music library in surround sound stereo. Calls stop the music but headphones have a built-in mic for pitch perfect conversations between tunes. A touch pad built into the right ear cup allows sound management with the swipe of a finger. www.parrot.com.
Skunk Juice ear bud connection system lets you hook up to your music and then lets up to four friends hook up to it with you. Share a game, a movie, an audio book or dance to some great tunes in an all-for-one environment hooked up to a single device. $35 includes adapter and ear buds. www.skunkjuiceearbuds.com
Nikon not only makes better cameras, it makes better photos – made all the better even for point-and-shoot challenged travelers with the new Smart Photo Selector camera. Shoot one photo and the camera shoots twenty before you can take your finger off the shooter. It picks the best five of the lot based on focus, light, angles and movement and lets you choose a technically perfect shot – at least for that blast. $649 (watch for regular $50 rebate offers). www.nikonusa.com.