What Travel Websites Do People Actually Use?

expedia expedia.com online travel website
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You probably have your own online travel planning regimen, but are you using the same websites as everyone else?

Tnooz reports on the most popular travel websites last month, listing what online travel agency, lodging and destination, airline and general travel search terms were most popular. Here are some of the winners:
Top 3 online travel agency websites:

  1. Expedia
  2. Priceline.com
  3. CheapOair

Top 3 accommodations websites:

  1. TripAdvisor
  2. Booking.com
  3. Hotels.com

Top 3 airline websites:

  1. Southwest Airlines
  2. Delta Airlines
  3. United Airlines

Top 3 travel search terms:

  1. mapquest
  2. google maps
  3. southwest airlines

You can see the top 10 in each category at Tnooz.

Do these results surprise you?

Gadling Gear Review: HP EliteBook 2570p Laptop

HP EliteBook 2570p laptopOver the past few years the trend in laptops has been to get thinner and lighter, often at the expense of power and features. The result has been a host of ultra-portable notebook computers that are sleek and stylish but don’t necessarily meet the needs of travelers who require a full-featured option when hitting the road. Fortunately, HP hasn’t abandoned those road warriors who require more from their laptops than just a pretty exterior. Their new EliteBook 2570p provides a great combination of performance and functionality in a package that still manages to remain relatively thin and lightweight.

While the EliteBook 2570p doesn’t fall into the category of an ultrabook, I was still very impressed with how thin and lightweight it is for such a full-featured laptop. Most ultrabooks achieve their diminutive stature by making compromises to the internal chipset and by omitting an optical drive altogether. HP hasn’t made those same compromises with this computer, however, delivering a system that includes a DVD drive, 12.5″ widescreen display, 500 GB of internal storage, 4 GB of RAM and an Intel Core i5 processor (i7 available as an upgrade) while still managing to keep the weight and bulk to a minimum. The EliteBook tips the scale at just 3.6 pounds and is a little more than an inch thick, which are pretty impressive dimensions for a computer that includes this much hardware.

Of course, all of that internal technology doesn’t mean much if you don’t have the battery power to keep it up and running for very long. But HP has managed to deliver in that department as well, giving the laptop plenty of juice. Out of the box, the EliteBook 2570p comes with a standard 6-cell battery that delivers more than nine hours of life. The unit I tested came with an extended 9-cell battery, which brought that time up to an astounding 15 hours. That’s enough to keep travelers productive and entertained for an entire trans-Pacific flight without needing a recharge, something that isn’t possible on most ultrabooks.
HP EliteBook 2570p laptopBuilt from the ground up to withstand the rigors of the road, the EliteBook 2570p is rugged and durable. It isn’t in the same class as something like the Panasonic Toughbook series of laptops, but then again HP’s offering isn’t nearly as big or as bulky as those machines either. This is a computer that will hold up well to the challenges of travel and you’ll never have to worry that it is too fragile to accompany you on a trip to just about anywhere.

This laptop implements a nice mix of legacy technology and new features. In addition to the aforementioned DVD drive and a fingerprint scanner, it also includes gigabit Ethernet, USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports, an SD card reader and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity. It even has an option for a 56k modem, something that is seldom found on any computer these days. Business users will appreciate the ability to dock the computer while seated at their desks and everyone will enjoy the SRS premium sound package, which provides clear audio for watching videos, listening to music or chatting via Skype.

Since this laptop is aimed primarily at business-oriented travelers, HP has added some impressive levels of security to protect the contents on the hard drive. In addition to the usual password protection that comes standard on any Windows PC, the EliteBook 2570p’s included fingerprint scanner provides a slick way to authenticate as well. But this system also has a third option that combines Bluetooth technology and facial recognition to provide unprecedented protection for those that need it. When the laptop is paired with a mobile phone via Bluetooth it then takes a snapshot of the users face through the built-in webcam. When the computer’s owner attempts to log in using this system, the EliteBook first checks to see if the user’s phone is within range and then activates the camera to compare his or her face with the image on file. If they match, the system grants entry. This security option sounds complicated, but once it is configured, it works flawlessly and provides a measure of protection that goes well beyond what is found on most notebooks.

While overall I found the EliteBook 2570p to be an excellent full-featured laptop for travelers, there were a few areas that I wouldn’t mind seeing improved. For instance, I wasn’t overly impressed with the touch pad, which was smaller, and sometimes less responsive, then I would have liked. The laptop does come with a track stick, however, which helps to mitigate this issue for those that prefer that option. The integrated Intel graphics chip will be a bit disappointing for some as well, although if you don’t play 3D games or edit video, you’ll probably find it adequate for your day to day needs.

HP offers the EliteBook with your choice of either Windows 7 or Windows 8, and my test model came preloaded with the latest version of Microsoft’s iconic operating system. After putting it through its paces for several weeks, I’d have to say that if I were ordering one of these laptops for myself, I would probably prefer Windows 7. That isn’t to say that Windows 8 doesn’t bring some new and interesting things to the table, but its interface seems to work better on a touchscreen device, something that this laptop most assuredly is not. Windows 8 runs flawlessly on the 2570p, but I found it a bit awkward to use at times, especially with the smaller touch pad.

If you’re the kind of traveler that needs to carry a laptop that doesn’t compromise features and performance in favor of a slim design, then the EliteBook 2570p is a great option for you. The computer provides everything that business travelers need to stay connected and productive while on the road, while still managing to remain relatively lightweight and thin. Yes, HP could have pulled out the DVD drive and a few other features to cut weight and bulk, but that would be completely missing the point. Some of us still need those options while on the road, and those are the types of travelers who are going to appreciate what this laptop brings to the table. Those same users are also likely to appreciate the EliteBook’s price tag, which starts at just $949. That’s an excellent price for a computer that delivers this much versatility and performance in such a small package.

[Photo Credit: HP]

Gadling Gift Guide: Tech For Travel

Samsung's Galaxy Camera makes the Gadling Tech gift guideFrom keeping us entertained on a long flight to helping us stay connected with friends and family while on the road, technology has had an undeniable impact on the way we travel. Whether we’re going across the state for an important business meeting or around the globe to experience a foreign culture, our favorite gadgets have become indispensable gear for modern adventures. If you have a traveler on your holiday shopping list, here are a few suggestions for tech toys that may make their next road trip a more enjoyable one.

Samsung Galaxy Camera ($499)
If you’re looking for the latest and greatest development in in the world of point-and-shoot photography, then you’ll certainly want to check out the brand new Samsung Galaxy Camera. It features a 16-megapixel sensor, 21x optical zoom, 8 GB of built-in storage and a bright 4.8-inch super clear LCD display. But what really sets it apart from the pack is that it runs an advanced version of the Android operating system (4.1 Jelly Bean), giving the camera access to thousands of apps that will help extend its functionality beyond just snapping pictures. Add in GPS functionality, the ability to give voice commands and on-board photo editing and you have yourself a powerful device. It even comes with the option for full 3G and LTE wireless connectivity, allowing photographers to share their images on social media or save their photos to cloud storage immediately after taking them.

Mojo Battstation Tough Dual Pro ($29.90-$39.90)
The new Battstation Tough Dual Pro sets a new standard for portable battery chargers for power hungry devices. Not only is it tough and durable, it also features two USB ports for charging more than one device at a time. Available in two configurations, one with a 7200 mAh and the other with an 8400 mAh battery, this little box is capable of providing plenty of juice for your smartphone, camera, GPS device or just about anything else you can plug into it. It’ll even charge the new iPad, which is no small feat considering the amount of power it takes to fill its massive batteries. Best of all, the entire package weighs less than 7.5 ounces, which makes it the perfect travel companion for those trips when power outlets will be few and far between.Incase iPhone cases for the holidayIncase iPhone Cases ($29.95-$59.95)
If the gadget lover on your holiday list also happens to be an iPhone owner, then a stylish new case from Incase may be just what they’re hoping for this holiday season. The company’s offerings come in a variety of colors and styles that will give any phone a unique look all of its own. Better yet, these cases provide a fantastic level of protection without detracting in any way from Apple’s iconic design. That means the phone will remain light and thin but will still be well protected from accidental drops and other hazards. Considering how fragile – not to mention expensive – modern smartphones can be, one of these cases may be the best investment for the accident prone traveler too.

Google Nexus 7 Android Tablet ($249)
Android has dominated the smartphone market over the past couple of years and now it has a viable option in the tablet space as well. The Nexus 7 makes a great alternative to the iPad and comes packed with plenty of features that are sure to appeal to any gadget fan. The device includes 32GB of storage, a beautiful 7-inch display and a battery with enough power to keep it running for up to ten hours between charges. Thin and lightweight, the Nexus 7 also has access to a growing library of apps, movies, books, games and more via the Google Play Store. If you’re looking to save a few bucks, you can even get a model with 16GB of storage for just $199, although I recommend springing for the extra space. You’ll need it when you start filling up the device with travel photos.

Timbuk2 Power Commute messenger bagTimbuk2 Power Commute Messenger Bag ($199)
While on the road, there are two things that every techie traveler needs. The first is a great bag to securely carry their laptop, tablet, and other items and the second is a source of power to keep all of their devices fully juiced up. Fortunately Timbuk2’s Power Commute messenger bag has us covered in both areas, giving us a great over the shoulder sling pack for hauling our gear while also cleverly integrating an energy pack for recharging batteries. The Power Commute’s battery pack is capable of charging most smartphones and tablets through its USB port, providing quick and convenient energy when needed. Other nice touches include a TSA compliant laptop sleeve, plenty of organizational pockets and water resistant fabrics to help keep important gear safe from the elements.

Jawbone Jambox Portable Speaker ($199)
Over the past year I’ve been lucky enough to test a number of good Bluetooth portable speaker systems and out of all of them, the one that I continue to enjoy the most is the Jawbone Jambox. Compact and lightweight, the Jambox is small enough to slip into your bag on any trip and yet its speakers have the power to fill a room with booming audio. Sound quality is exceptional and the ten hour battery life keeps the music flowing far longer than expected. The Jambox’s built-in microphone even allows it to serve as a speakerphone, which can come in handy for those impromptu business meetings that sometimes arise while we’re on the road. Music lovers and podcast junkies will absolutely adore the Jambox whether they are traveling or at home. The device is available in a variety of colors, but the most fun comes from completely customizing the look yourself.

Belkin Wireless Travel Router ($80)
Sharing an Internet connection in a hotel room can be a major challenge, particularly when Wi-Fi access is limited or even non-existent. Belkin’s wireless Travel Router can save the day however, turning a single Ethernet jack into a wireless network for multiple devices. The router supports both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies, can be password protected and even has VPN functionality. Built with travelers in mind, the router is compact and even comes with a travel case to safely store the device, its power supply and an included network cable while in transit. This is the kind of gadget that many travelers don’t even know they need until they actually have one.

Lenovo Thinkpad Twist UltrabookLenovo Twist Ultrabook Laptop ($745)
Ultrabooks have been a godsend for frequent travelers over the past few years. These lightweight and super-thin laptops have shaved a considerable amount of weight from our packs, which is always a good thing as far as I’m concerned. Now Lenovo has taken the design one step further, creating an Ultrabook that converts into a fully-functional Windows 8 tablet. The Twist derives its name from the fact that the screen is capable of rotating a full 180 degrees, easily converting it from laptop to tablet mode. This gives it a level of versatility that few other notebooks have, making it incredibly useful in a variety of situations. The base model comes with 4GB of RAM and a 1.8 GHz i-3 processor. Performance in that configuration is snappy and fun, but there are options to expand the hardware for those that truly need it.

Be sure to check out Gadling’s other Gift Guides for more holiday shopping ideas.

[Photo Credits: Samsung, Incase, Timbuk2 and Lenovo]

The Jetovator: The Flying Water Bike That Propels Riders 30 Feet In The Air




From kitesurfing and surfing to cave diving, there are a lot of fun opportunities for those who want to have an adventurous water experience. The new Jetovator, however, may win the prizes for most original and most daring.

The Jetovator looks like a mix between a jet ski and a motorbike, and attaches to a giant water spray nozzle to propel riders 30 feet into the air. If you’d rather explore what’s underneath the water, the watercraft can also push you 10 feet below the surface.

According to Digital Trends, the Jetovator is simple to control, using handlebars for direction and speed. Furthermore, riders will be able to do tricks in the air, like quick turns and flips. When it’s running low on batteries, simply hook it up to a water power source to charge.

The one downside of this daring toy? Its price tag. At $9,000 for the standard model with no upgrades, experiencing this unique adventure may be difficult for some. However, if you’re looking to do something out of the ordinary, the Jetovator could be a worthwhile investment.

Would you pay $9,000 to purchase your own Jetovator?

Gadling Gear Review: iZon Remote Room Monitor

The iZon Remote Room MonitorHave you ever been away from home and wished that you had the ability to look in just to see what was happening back at the domicile? If so, then Stem Innovation has a product that may be of interest to you. Whether you’re in the room next door or halfway around the world, Stem’s Izon Remote Room Monitor is a simple, inexpensive way to monitor what is happening around your house.

At its core the iZon is essentially an always-on wireless webcam that is configured and controlled by an iPhone and iPad app. The unit is small and inconspicuous and once configured it only needs power to stay active. The camera’s built-in base allows it to be swiveled to just the right angle, while a single green LED light indicates that it is in operation.

The initial set-up of the iZon is fairly straightforward provided you follow the included instructions. That process begins by downloading the Stem:Connect app and installing it on your iOS device. From there, users create a Stem account, which is used to log in to the app and register your devices. Stem:Connect actually allows you to control multiple cameras and the personal account helps to keep track of each of them individually. Those different cameras can also be assigned unique names, such as “Bedroom” or “Office,” which makes it easier to differentiate them from within the app itself.

After installing Stem:Connect and creating a personal account, you’ll next need to connect the camera to your wireless network. That is also accomplished through the app, which gives you the ability to select your Wi-Fi network and type in the password needed to join. Once that process is complete, the iZon will restart itself and begin broadcasting video and sound.Once the configuration process is complete the app serves as the monitor as well, allowing users to see whatever the iZon sees. Logging into Stem:Connect gives you the option to select the camera you want to view and then begins streaming video directly from that device. The quality of the video is average at best and isn’t likely to wow you, although it does serve its purpose just fine. The images are definitely improved in well-lit environments and on faster network connections, just don’t expect high definition quality.

Besides simply broadcasting live video, the iZon has a few other tricks up its sleeve as well. For example, you can configure it to send you an alert when unexpected motion or sounds occur on camera. This is handy when you are using the device to monitor a baby’s room, for instance, and you want to know when the child has stirred. Stem has also given the iZon the ability to upload video directly to a YouTube account making it a breeze to capture and share some of the best moments you see on the cam. These options add versatility to a device that already provides quite a bit of functionality for its $129.95 suggested retail price.

The iZone certainly is an affordable option for those looking for a video monitoring system for their home or office but it doesn’t come without compromise. As mentioned, the video quality isn’t particularly outstanding and there is a pronounced lag between what happens in front of the camera and what is displayed on the screen. Even using it on my fast home network, I often experienced a delay of 30 seconds or more between when something actually occurred and when it appeared on my iPad. That delay is worse when you shift to a remote Wi-Fi network or are using a 3G or 4G connection.

Connecting from those remote networks can be a challenge too. The iZon is designed to be plug-and-play, and while it was easy to configure the device and get it working on my personal Wi-Fi network, I had issues being able to connect to the camera while I was away from home. What good is a remote monitoring system if you can only use it while you’re actually at home? Fortunately, I was able to resolve the issue by opening the proper ports on my wireless router, so a rudimentary knowledge of networking can help make the process easier. To their credit, Stem Innovation has released regular updates to both the device’s firmware and the Stem:Connect app, which have helped alleviate some of the challenges of getting the camera working. Just be prepared to dig in a bit deeper if the iZon doesn’t function as expected out of the box.

In terms of an inexpensive and easy to configure remote room monitoring system, it is hard to beat the iZon. It is small, works well with an iPhone or iPad and has a low cost of entry. If you can live with the compromises in video quality and broadcast lag, this is probably the best way to monitor what is taking place around the home without breaking the bank.