Best destinations for gadget geeks

Chances are, the laptop you’re reading this article on was not made here in the U.S. It’s a well-known fact that most of the world’s consumer gadgetry, from mobile phones to laptops to gaming consoles, is created abroad, in places ranging from Japan to Europe and beyond. A visit to one of these tech-centric destinations is a great chance to pick up a one-of-a-kind tech product or grab a great bargain. But gadget travel is also about more than just buying cool stuff – it’s also chance to experience the future of technology. Wondering where you can get in touch with your inner geek on your next trip? Check out our ten picks below.

Batam, Indonesia
If you have the hankering for inexpensive Asian-made electronics, the island city of Batam in Indonesia is hard to beat. A twenty-minute ferry ride from Singapore, this city offers duty-free shopping for a variety of imported electronics. Be sure to check out Mega Mall Batam Centre located in the Batam Central Business District, as well as Nagoya Hill, the biggest shopping center in Batam. Beware of knock-offs and be willing to bargain to get the best prices here.

Stockholm, Sweden
Early adopters will drool with envy over Stockholm’s city-wide WiMax network. With WiMax’s increased connection range and high-speed bandwidth, Stockholm is surely the world’s most wired city.

Yongsan Electric Market – Seoul, North South Korea
With over twenty buildings and a bustling outside flea market full of electronic bargains, Yongsan Electric Market located at Yongsan Station is a haggler’s paradise. Shop the nearly 5,000 stores for steep discounts and a wide selection of Korean and imported gadgets.Science Museum – London, England
For the young geek or the geek young at heart, the Science Museum in London offers a dizzying array of gadgets and gizmos, along with a good dose of science. Admission is free, which is good, because the fun gadgets in the gift shop are not.

– Jakarta, Indonesia
Offering a gigantic variety of electronics, Glodok’s 500,000 square meters will require several days to shop. Well known to Indonesians, this area sells dirt-cheap Asian-made electronics and offers some of the cheapest, although not always legal, DVDs and video games. The best way to get to Glodok is by TransJakarta, a bus that stops in front of the district. Watch your bags if you go, as the area is known for pickpockets.

Tribeca Grand Hotel – New York City, USA
If you are a true Apple fanboy, the Tribeca Grand Hotel in NYC has you covered. Reserve an iStudio room and you can use your room’s G5 Mac, fully loaded with film, music and photo editing software. Don’t forget to bring your iPod for the in-room Sony Dream Machine Speaker Dock. Reserve your iStudio by calling 877 519 6600.

Consumer Electric Show – Las Vegas, USA
Gadgets so hot you can’t even buy them yet! This annual Consumer Electronics Show showcases the up and coming gadgets from around the world. While you can’t purchase these toys yet, you can certainly find one to start drooling over.

Inamo Restaurant – London, England
Even geeks have to eat, but that doesn’t mean that they have to go cold turkey on technology. Inamo, an Oriental fusion restaurant in London’s Soho district, offers a high-tech dining experience. Diners can order dinner, drinks and even set the evening’s mood lighting by interacting with their dining table. Quite an innovative experience and the food is good too.

Cafe Grumpy – New York City, USA
With over 25 coffees on the menu, Cafe Grumpy will jump start anyone’s day, but its not just the coffee that has gadget geeks drooling. Cafe Grumpy’s unique $11,000 Clover coffee machines that the gadget aficionado will fall for.

Akihabara – Tokyo, Japan
Also known as Akihabara Electric Town, Akihabara is giant shopping area a few minutes from Tokyo Station. The newest international electronics are available next to discounted used gadgets. Visit Akky International Main Store at 1-12-1 Soto-Kanda for duty-free shopping. Don’t forget to shop the smaller stores to find the best bargains.

— Written by Jared S. Bernstein, Seed contributor.

The best of the worst at CES 2010 – TV in a bag and keyboard cleaning slime

Even though I don’t have the firm numbers, I’m going to make something up – for every great product at CES, there are at least 100 crap ones. It is pretty sad when you listen to someone pitch you their product, but you can’t help think what a truly horrible idea it is. I came across 100’s of such products, but I’ve picked two that really stood out.


BagTV is a “designer handbag” with a TV. Well, it isn’t even a real TV, it’s just a portable DVD player that slides into a bag with a small window. This is of course fantastic for the huge market of women that want to walk down the street showing movies to random people.

But don’t take my word for it, read the product description from the manufacturer:

“Bavtv Designer bags where fashion blends with Technology. You might have a number of designer bags in your collection that look amazing when used as accessories for specific outfits. Maybe you like to use certain bags for particular occasions and seem to have a bag for all eventualities. Have you got a bag that you can watch your favourite film on though, or a bag that can promote new fashion lines just as they are being released? Have any of your other designer bags got a TV screen built into them that combines a dvd and Mpeg player? Probably not, but you could add to your collection of trendy bags and purchase a brand new tv bag.

The price? $400. If I am mistaken, and there really is a market for this product, you can order one from

Cyber Clean

Several days before CES, I received a surprise in the mail – a pouch of bright yellow slime called “Cyber Clean”. This product has been a bit of joke around the CES floor, and even caught the attention of Enagdget – who took it for a test drive on a very filthy laptop. The product is exactly the same as the kids slime you’ll find at your local toy store, but with the addition of a hard to open bag and a little fragrance.

Its purpose? It is designed to clean and sanitize your electronics. The idea behind Cyber Clean is that you push it into the crevices of your products, and when you pull it off, it’ll lift up all the crud you dropped into your keyboard, phone or other device.

Not only could I not get it to clean anything, I found the idea of letting slime ooze into my $200 keyboard to be just a but too much. The product is developed by a company called Joker – who specialize in making kids slime. It suddenly all makes sense. Priced at $5.99 per pouch, you can pick up some of your own Cyber Clean goo here.

Gadling @CES 2010 – the best of the best in travel friendly gadgets

Now the 2010 CES is coming to an end, (and my feet are finally recovered from three days of Las Vegas), I’ve got some time to work on taking a closer look at some of the goodies introduced at the show.

Below, you’ll find the top products that caught my attention. Later this week, I’ll be posting (real) reviews of several of these great products, and explaining how they can help you when you travel.


Gadling visits the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show – so you don’t have to

If you ever need proof of how much we love our readers, you’d only need to take a look at my feet. For the past couple of days, I made up the entire Gadling 2010 CES team, on a mission to find the neatest travel friendly gadgets, gizmos and services.

With over 2700 exhibitors, the CES is one of the largest shows in the world. The show is split between three halls, and several hotels. Of course, we leave the hardcore coverage of CES to our friends over at Engadget, who are the official blog of the event, and need their own double wide trailer to house their team.

Because I am writing for travelers, I’ll spare you the stories of how 3D TV “will change the way we watch TV”, or how the new Android operating system will power your washing machine, and will focus on the kind of technology that can make travel more entertaining or productive.

The trends that matter to travelers

  • Green technology
  • Ebook readers
  • More powerful netbook computers
  • Cool new cases

That’s it – unlike previous years, there was no really impressive new technology heading our way, and the general direction most companies took was to improve on their existing line of products. Still, during my three day tour of duty, I did come across some impressive new items, so stay tuned later this week to read all about them.

CES itself is something everyone should experience at least once. I’ve been doing trade shows for many years, including larger shows like CeBit in Germany. There is one thing they all have in common – trade shows are hell. CES is special, because they don’t allow the general public to visit. Everyone must wear a badge, and visitors are either exhibitors, manufacturers, engineers, CES guests, industry affiliates, press or bloggers.

Green Technology

In case you didn’t know – “green is in”. In fact, anything eco-friendly is really hot right now. Green technology has been added to chargers, battery packs, and even online travel guides. Later this week, I’ll show off some of the best new green gear.

Ebook readers

Every company has at least one ebook reader in their assortment. In fact, entire sections of the CES floor are devoted entirely to ebook readers and companies that develop ebook technology. Apparently, there are plenty of others who want a piece of the Sony and Amazon ebook market. This is obviously great for us, as it’ll bring prices down.

More powerful netbook computers

Several years ago, the first netbook computers appeared. In those few short years, the netbook has greatly evolved into a true replacement for the “normal” laptop. Of course, when people get rid of their bulky machine and switch to the netbook, they discover the shortcomings. First generation machines were slow, had poor screen resolutions, bad battery life and useless keyboards.

Companies apparently learned from their mistakes, because the newest generation shown off at CES is very impressive. More machines with 3G, 12 hour battery life and processor power for watching HD movies on the road. Prices are also coming down. More on the newest developments later this week.

Impressive new machines were announced by most major manufacturers, with some of the coolest coming from HP, who added faster processors, touch screen options and a neat airport friendly carrying handle to their latest.

Cool new cases

Every year, hundreds of companies announce new cases and bags at CES. Sadly, only a handful of them are actually innovative. Thankfully I’ve seen enough cases in my life to know who has something cool to announce, and who is just making more of the same. The best of the best will soon pass through Gadling.

Other interesting sights from the show

It won’t come as much of a surprise, but people love free crap. I sat on a sofa in the “press lounge” watching blogger after blogger try and grab as much free crap as possible. I witnessed people grab every single catalog, pen, sticker and bag they could, obviously not caring one bit about having to drag all that junk around all day. I left Vegas with less than I arrived with. I like my press materials in email, and I don’t care for freebies (unless they are worth more than $1000).

The only thing cooler than seeing new gadgets, is meeting the PR people behind them. In my “line of work”, I do a lot of communication with PR people in email, and finally being able to meet them in person is just fantastic. PR people don’t get the respect they deserve, and I for one admire their ability to stand on the show floor for four days trying to explain how awesome the product is that they represent (even if it isn’t).

Distances between halls and events are a problem at CES – and if you can’t schedule (like me), you’ll end up with an appointment in one hall, followed by an appointment 2 halls down, followed by one back at the first one. At the end of three days, I was ready for a replacement set of feet.

CES is held at the same time as the Adult Entertainment Expo (which is at the Sands halls), and several CES events are also at the Venetian (the unofficial hotel of the adult show). The difference in crowds is fantastic. Sitting down at the Venetian, watching people walk around heading to the two different shows is a show on its own. Suit – suit – porn star – suit – suit – porn star. You get the picture. Our very own Tom Johansmeyer used to cover the adult industry, and has a very insightful article on the current state of affairs over at Daily Finance.

And finally – if you are ever in Las Vegas, you’ll want to avoid the Las Vegas Hilton. It isn’t necessarily a bad hotel, it just isn’t up to the same standards as the newer Vegas properties. Note to hotel owners: a 40 year old hotel is not considered “renovated” when all you do is clean up the lobby and put a flat panel TV in the room. Oh, and the $13.99 Internet charge is just plain insulting, especially when so many cheaper hotels in Vegas offer it for free.

Still, the location of the Hilton can’t be beat and the staff were all mighty friendly, despite the insane crowds. Of course, come Monday, Vegas will return to its normal self, and will once again be a bit of a ghost town.

Consumer Electronics Show 2009 – the news that matters to you

The 2009 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas has come and gone. The show took place during one of the toughest economic climates in years, but that did not stop major companies from making new product announcements for items that could help you on the road.

Our friends at Engadget were the “official blog” of the CES this year, which is both an honor and probably a major hassle, as it means keeping up with the 1000’s of announcements and hand picking the stuff that is worth reporting.

I’ve gone through all of the products they talked about in the past week, and have picked a couple that I feel could benefit travelers (or are simply so cool I had to mention them).
Palm Pre

The Palm Pre (pronounced pree) was without a doubt one of the biggest hits of the show. Palm has been in a bit of a rut for several years, and I’d almost given up hope of them ever recovering.

With just one product announcement, they went from zero to hero. The Palm Pre is an absolutely gorgeous phone, with all the features you’d expect from a high end smartphone. Powering the machine is a brand new operating system, so their dated PalmOS is finally making room for something fresh.

I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for Palm, I was carrying the original Palm Pilot when it came out, and it saddened me when they started to go downhill in recent years. With the Palm Pre, they seem to be back with a vengeance, and that really does put a smile on my face.

The Palm Pre will be out later this year, pricing is currently unknown, and it will launch on Sprint (CDMA). A GSM version is currently being developed and should be out several months after the Sprint release.

Sony Vaio P

Rumors of a new and amazing Sony ultra portable computer had been floating around the web for about 2 weeks before the CES. So, when the machine was officially announced it was not much of a surprise. That does not make the new Vaio P that less impressive. Sony have taken a Netbook style machine, and turned it into the kind of ultra portable only they can make. In fact, the Engadget editor was so impressed with the Vaio P, that he featured it in his own uncut video clip with Jimmy Fallon.

Inside the P is a very high resolution screen, GPS, Wi-Fi, 3G and all the usual bells and whistles you’d expect to find on a premium netbook.

The Vaio P is available for pre-order directly from Sony, and prices start at just under $900.

LG Watch Phone

Watch phones are nothing new, Chinese mobile phone makers have been churning them out for several years. In fact, the concept of a watch phone has been around so long, I’m amazed it took a major manufacturer this long to finally bring one to the mainstream.

The LG Watch phone is a quad band GSM phone, and comes with pretty much every feature you’d find in a normal mobile phone. Calls can be made using the integrated speakerphone, or with a Bluetooth headset.

The device is expected to go into production later this year, but pricing is not available yet. Engadget posted a short video review of the LG Watch Phone on their site.

Clickfree Transformer USB cable

The Clickfree Transformer turns any portable USB hard drive into a fully automated backup device. I think we all know that the majority of us absolutely suck at making regular backups. When I travel, I even carry an external hard drive, but I still don’t always make backups when I should.

The Clickfree Transformer cable goes between your PC and your hard drive, and turns the combo into a fully automated backup solution. You just plug, and backup. At $59.99 it’s about the same price as many software backup solutions, so it’s fair to say that the cable gives you great value for money.

The Clickfree Transformer cable is available on the Clickfree site, and costs $59.99.

Novatel Wireless MiFi

The concept behind this gadget is brilliant – take one part Wireless router, add one part 3G mobile broadband card, and combine the 2 into a sleek and portable personal hotspot. We’ve covered a different personal hotspot in the past, but the MiFi is the first to include the 3G modem inside the unit.

The Novatel Wireless MiFi should be available on a currently unnamed CDMA carrier later this year (my guess is Sprint), and as with many other new products, nothing is known about the price just yet.

Callpod Chargepod V2

Have I ever mentioned how much I love it when a company takes an award winning product, and improves it even more? That is what Callpod did with their Chargepod device charger. The current Chargepod is designed to charge only small gadgets, like mobile phones. The new Chargepod V2 adds laptop charging as well as a 3 port USB hub.

What you end up with, is a single charge that powers your laptop, 3 smaller devices and connects 3 USB devices to your computer.

The device seems relatively pricey at $199, but when you can switch from 8 chargers to just one, you’ll probably find it worth the money.

The Chargepod V2 will start shipping in March.