Gadling’s Top 25 travel technology products of 2008

Welcome to the Gadling top 25 travel technology products of 2008.

It has been a great year for gadget loving travelers, and I have come across some really fantastic products that have helped make my own trips much more enjoyable.

It was not easy keeping the list to just 25 products, and there should be something for everyone in this lineup. So, without any further delay, I present (in no particular order), the 25 best travel technology products of 2008.


Boingo is the only thing listed in the top 25 that isn’t a physical product.

Boingo provides a service that lets you pay a single monthly fee to get access to over 103,000 different Wi-Fi hotspot locations around the world.

For $59 you get their global traveler plan, which offers unlimited access to any of the locations in the Boingo network.

If you have traveled the world, you’ll have probably stayed at one of the many hotels using Wi-Fi as another source of income. Think of Wi-Fi as the new minibar. With daily rates as high as $30, using Boingo makes perfect sense. Business travelers will certainly appreciate the ability to use a single logon and not have to worry about a different expense for each connection they setup on a trip.

Why it matters to travelers: Saves money and makes getting online around the globe much easier.
Price: From $7.95 for a US only PDA plan, $59 for a global plan
Gadling review: Coming soon.

T-Mobile Blackberry Curve

With all of the mobile phones popping up this year, you’d probably expect me to pick the new 3G iPhone as the most travel friendly phone. Sadly for Apple, it’s actually a Blackberry that is still my favorite pick. The Blackberry Curve on T-Mobile has one very important feature that makes it the perfect pick for global travelers; Wi-Fi calling. The technology is called UMA, and it allows the Blackberry to roam onto a Wi-Fi hotspot signal and behave just like it would on a regular cell tower.

You could be in Japan on a Wi-Fi signal in your hotel, and your Blackberry will be able to make and receive phone calls and text messages just like back home. Of course, because you are not roaming on an international network, you can even make these calls for the same rate as a normal call back home, without the insane roaming rates involved.

Why it matters to travelers: Cheap calls, email, Internet browsing and travel applications.
Price: $99.99
Where: or any T-Mobile authorized dealer
Gadling review: October 15th 2008

Cradlepoint PHS300 personal Wi-Fi hotspot

Several years ago the big development in wireless technology was the availability of broadband 3G wireless access. If you keep your eyes open next time you are at an airport lounge, you’ll see loads of people working on their laptop with a little antenna sticking out the side of the machine.

To me, the biggest development in wireless data this year, came from the Cradlepoint PHS300 personal Wi-Fi hotspot.

The PHS300 turns your 3G modem into a Wi-Fi hotspot. The battery powered device creates a wireless signal ready to use by one person, or an entire conference room. By moving your wireless card out of your laptop, you also save battery life, plus you can move the Cradlepoint router closer to a window to pick up a better wireless signal.

Why it matters to travelers: One modem card can be shared with others, reduces the load on your laptop.
Price: $179.99
Gadling review: August 25th 2008

Eye-Fi wireless enabled SD memory card

Nothing in the photography world has made life easier for me than the Eye-Fi wireless memory card. The Eye-Fi card is a regular SD card, with a built in Wireless adapter.

What this means to anyone taking photos is that they can take a photo and within seconds it will be uploaded to their computer or a photo sharing site of their choice (as long as you are in range of a wireless network).

The card was released last year, but 2008 brought several major updates to their lineup including the Eye-Fi Explore. The Explore adds hotspot access to any Wayport locations, as well as basic Geotagging of your photos.

I’ve become so used to offloading my photos using the Eye-Fi card that I actually lost the USB cable of my previous camera.

Why it matters to travelers: Send your photos home before you leave your destination.
Price: From $79.99
Gadling review: Coming soon

Panasonic Lumix TZ5

In picking my favorite digital camera for 2008, I went through almost 15 different models. When it comes to a camera that is suitable for travelers I looked for several things; it had to be small enough for traveling light, and it had to offer something invaluable for making decent shots.

I’ll admit right away that I am a horrible photographer, I’ve played with digital SLR cameras, but never managed to quite master the art. Since I’m convinced the same applies to many other traveling consumers, I’ve picked the small Lumix TZ5 for this lineup.

The TZ5 is a 9.1 megapixel camera like many other point and shooters on the market. What makes the TZ5 different is its 10x optical zoom and the ability to shoot basic HD video clips.

Why it matters to trav
10x wide angle optical zoom, HD video clips, special “travel” mode for sorting your photos.
Price: $329.99
Gadling review: coming soon

Lenovo Ideapad S10

Every several years something big happens in the computer world. 3 years ago we saw a big shift from desktop PC purchases to notebooks. 2008 was the big year for the Netbook.

This new generation of ultra portable (and ultra affordable) computers has forced every major manufacturer to bring at least one machine to the market. What started with a single design from Asus has now morphed into about 30 different machines. I’ve tried almost every single one of them, but eventually there was just one clear winner for me; the Lenovo Ideapad S10.

This 10″ Intel Atom powered Netbook is perfect for business travelers as it is available with Bluetooth and it has an Expresscard slot (for expansion cards). The Lenovo S10 has a very sleek design, and incorporates the reliability Lenovo is known for. In my personal opinion, the S10 is also the best looking Netbook of the year.

Why it matters to travelers: Size, looks and performance.
Price: From $399
Gadling review: coming soon

SeV Quantum jacket

When you are on the road a lot, you learn to value the importance of pockets. It sounds pretty quirky, but the combination of travel and carrying too many gadgets means you always need more ways to carry them. The SeV Quantum jacket is a stylish jacket made of breathable material. Hidden away all around this garment are 28 separate pockets, including some large enough to carry a water bottle or even a small laptop!

Almost every pocket is linked to the others using the SeV patented “personal area network” which allows you to route cords inside the jacket. The Quantum even features 2 special pockets with clear plastic which allow you to have easy access to your iPod or mobile phone.

Why it matters to travelers: Pockets, lots and lots of pockets.
Price: $250
Gadling review: September 29th 2008

Tom Bihn Checkpoint Flyer

After years of making our lives miserable, the TSA actually used 2008 to help bring some common sense back to the checkpoint. One of their accomplishments was the creation of some better rules for how they treat your laptop. In the past, they were so scared of laptop computers that they wanted every laptop on its own going through the X-Ray conveyor. The new rules allow you to keep it inside an approved bag.

The Tom Bihn Checkpoint Flyer was one of the first checkpoint friendly bags to ship. The bag is made in the USA and features an ingenious folding laptop portion. The bag is very well made, and is full of great little touches like waterproof zippers.

Why it matters to travelers: Every minute saved at the checkpoint is valuable.
Price: $225
Gadling review: October 7th 2008

Altec-Lansing iM237 Orbit MP3 portable speaker

The Altec Lansing Orbit MP3 speaker is the perfect companion for your iPod, iPhone or other music player.

The speaker works off three AAA batteries and allows you to store the audio cord in the bottom.

The Orbit MP3 produces an amazing amount of sound, and despite its tiny size, you’ll easily be able to fill a decent size hotel room with your tunes.

Why it matters to travelers: Room filling audio from a pint sized speaker.
Price: $39.95
Gadling review: October 29th 2008

Creative Labs Aurvana headphones

I’ve had the Creative Labs Aurvana X-Fi headphones lined up for a review for some time, but I’ve been using them so often that I never got around to giving you a full review. The Aurvana X-Fi headphones feature the highly rated Creative X-Fi system for improving the sound quality of your digital music as well as a special mode for creating virtual surround sound when you listen to a movie.

The headphones are even $50 cheaper than that “other” brand of popular noise canceling headphones.

The Creative Labs Auravna X-Fi headphones are quite simply the best noise canceling headphones I have ever used. Included in the package is a sturdy carrying case, adapters for most headphone jacks and an extension cord.

Why it matters to travelers: Combines amazing sound quality with amazing noise canceling features.
Price: $249.99
Gadling review: coming soon

Duracell PowerSource mini battery pack

I like power. Sadly I don’t have much of the influential kind, so I compensate by collecting gadgets that can keep my other gadgets working. The Duracell Portable Power Pack is such a device.

This small rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery pack features a folding USB connector, a second female USB connector and a battery life indicator. A fully charged Duracell battery pack holds enough juice to recharge most of my gadgets at l
east three times.

Why it matters to travelers: Because a gadget without power can be really depressing.
Price: $39.99
Gadling review: coming soon

Peek Email device

Back in September we posted the first ever review of this personal email device.

Peek is a handheld wireless emailer which runs off the nationwide T-Mobile network. For $99 (priced at $79.99 till the end of the year) and a monthly service charge of $19.99, you get unlimited access to your email on the go. There is no contract, and no paperwork involved. You simply give Peek a credit card number, and you are all set.

I like Peek because it delivers on its promise; it does email, and only email, but it does that one thing quite well. Peek was recently voted “best gadget of 2008” by Time magazine.

Why it matters to travelers: Provides simple and affordable email on the go for anyone.
Price: $99.95 ($79.99 till December 31st)
Gadling review: August 26th 2008


The Chargepod by Callpod has completely changed the way I charge my gadgets on the road. In the past I had a complicated array of chargers, cables and splitters. The Chargepod powers off one AC adapter, and can power 6 gadgets at the same time.

Chargepod offers an impressive list of power adapter tips for anything from your Bluetooth headset to the latest portable gaming console. I have yet to run into a gadget that can’t be powered off the Chargepod.

Why it matters: One charger instead of 6
Price: $39.95 for the base unit, or $79.99 for the bundle pack with a selection of power tips
Gadling review: August 28th 2008

Otterbox cases

As gadget prices go up, so does the disappointment when a gadget breaks. Anyone who is on the road a lot will subject their gadgets to all kinds of abuse.

Otterbox produces a lineup of cases that provide several levels of protection. They vary from basic bump and scratch protection, to full water and shockproof protection.

Otterbox cases are available for all iPods as well as most Blackberry smartphones including the recently released Blackberry Bold.

Why it matters to travelers: Take your gadget to the beach, or up a mountain.
Price: From $19.95
Gadling review: September 10th 2008

Amazon Kindle

It’s almost impossible to list “best gadgets” without mentioning the Amazon Kindle. This electronic book reader launched in November of 2007 and has been one of the top selling electronic devices on ever since.

The Kindle was not the first electronic book on the market, but it does something no other eBook can do; wireless downloads of books.

No longer will you have to jump into the book store at the airport to buy another overpriced book, nor do you need to stock your carry-on with magazines and newspapers.

The Amazon Kindle offers it all, in a slick and easy to use package. The usability is slightly questionable, and the page changing buttons are a nightmare to use, but at the end of the day, nothing beats the ability to download a book right before takeoff. In addition to books, the Kindle also offers wireless access to select newspapers, magazines and RSS feeds.

Why it matters to travelers: Never worry about running out of something to read on the road, reduce the weight of your carry-on.
Price: $359 + the price of your reading materials
Gadling review: coming soon

Continue on to page 2

Gadling’s Top 25 travel technology products of 2008 — Part 2

Blueant Supertooth 3

As more and more states introduce legislation banning calls without a handsfree device, portable handsfree devices have suddenly become more important than ever.

The Blueant Supertooth 3 is a very compact battery powered Bluetooth carkit with fantastic sound quality. The Supertooth 3 also features integrated text-to-speech and voice recognition.

The microphone inside the Supertooth 3 is so impressive that callers on the other end of your conversation will not even notice they are on a speakerphone.

By far the most impressive feature hidden away inside the Supertooth 3 is a vibration sensor that turns the unit off when your car stops moving. Thanks to this sensor, the carkit can provide you with several weeks of power. A smart magnetic clip even allows you to attach the Supertooth 3 on either side of your sun visor!

Why it matters to travelers: Small enough to fit inside your carry-on and perfect for your rental car.
Price: $129
Gadling review: October 29th 2008


When I am on the road with my gadgets, I fear 2 things; running out of power to keep them running, and losing them. I’ve made it a habit to double check all my bags and pockets before leaving the plane, and I’ll usually spend 10 minutes going through my hotel room before I check out. But at the end of the day, it’s always a possibility that I leave my phone or music player behind.

To help increase my chances of getting my stuff back, I’ve labeled my more expensive gadgets with a tag from Yougetitback. These tags contain a unique serial number as well as a phone number people can call to help me get my stuff back. Of course, the entire process depends on the honesty of whoever finds it, but at least I have a better chance of getting it back than leaving it behind without any form of identification attached.

Yougetitback sells tags in all shapes and sizes, including key protectors and luggage tags. When you activate a tag, you can even assign a reward to your account which will be paid to whoever is honest enough to call. Yougetitback takes care of the return shipping process, so the caller does not have to worry about any costs.

Why it matters to travelers: May help increase your chances of getting lost gadgets or luggage back.
Price: From $9.99
Gadling review: Coming soon.

Garmin Oregon 400t

The Garmin Oregon 400t is not your everyday GPS unit. While most manufacturers focus on bringing maps to your car, Garmin have spent a lot of time developing a GPS unit specifically for outdoors use.

The Oregon 400t is a rugged and waterproof touch screen device. Inside the unit is a high resolution topographic map designed for on the trail or water. The 400t even features a built in barometer and compass.

Thanks to its integrated geocaching support, you can start an outdoor adventure, and find your way home at the end of the day. The Oregon 400t even allows you to wirelessly send routes, tracks and other items to other Oregon GPS units.

Why it matters to travelers: The best way to find your way around when you leave civilization.
Price: $599
Gadling review: Coming soon

Slacker G2

The Slacker G2 is a portable music player with a twist; instead of relying on your own collection of music, you get access to millions of songs provided by the Slacker service. Slacker offers a wide selection of themed radio stations, but you can also build you own radio station filled with artists and music styles you chose. The Slacker G2 can refresh its music through Wi-Fi, which means you’ll be able to get online and grab a fresh batch of music, no matter where you are.

The player itself is quite small, but Slacker still managed to squeeze a large screen inside, as well as a battery with enough juice for almost 15 hours of playback. The player even comes complete with noise isolating headphones and a case.

Why it matters to travelers: New music on the road, without the need for a PC.
Price: From $199 (4GB/25 stations)
Gadling review: September 16th 2008

Proporta Gadget Bag

So, you’ve got an impressive lineup of gadgets for your upcoming trip, but how do you plan to carry it all with you?

In my case, I searched high and low, and finally found the perfect solution with the Proporta gadget bag. This 4 piece gadget bag is spacious enough to carry the most insane collection of gadgets. The main bag connects to 2 smaller bags using zippers, and a small internal bag holds all your little items.

Each bag even features a cable pass-through allowing you to keep gadgets inside the bag, and still use your headphones or charger cord.

Why it matters to travelers: Keeps all your gadgets in one convenient location, and can be split into 3 separate bags.
Price: $47.95
Gadling review: Coming soon

Kensington Travel plug adapter with USB charger

Take one part international plug adapter, add a USB charger, and you’ll get the Kensington International adapter with USB.

This adapter has retracting plugs for most countries in the world. What makes this product stand out, is that the top of the adapter can be removed, and replaced with an international USB charger.

Why it mat
ters to travelers:
A single device with international plugs and a USB charger
Price: $29.99
Gadling review: November 9th 2008

Slingbox Solo

Ever been stranded in a hotel room with nothing more than 6 channels of local programming and a barely functioning remote control?

The Slingbox Solo is the only product in this list that works best when left at home. The Slingbox Solo takes the signal from your home TV (cable, cablebox, DVR or satellite box) and “streams” it over the Internet.

By running the Slingplayer on your computer, you get full control over your video source back home thanks to a “virtual remote control”.

You can even access your Slingbox on a compatible mobile phone, or with the new Slingcatcher.

Why it matters to travelers: Watch your home TV when you are away from home.
Price: From $179.99
Gadling review: Coming soon

La Fresh travel wipes

La Fresh has the honor of being one of just a few non battery operated products in this list.

La Fresh produces a lineup of single use travel wipes. Their assortment includes the usual stuff like anti-bacterial wipes, but also deodorant, sunscreen, makeup remover and even shoe shine wipes.

Their single use travel combo packs include everything you could possibly need to freshen up if you find yourself away from the civilized world (or if the airline loses your bag!). Inside a small pouch is a deodorant wipe, a minty-mitt mouth wipe, nail polish remover, hydrating lotion and a shoe shine towelette.

Of course, because the towelettes contain very little liquid, you can carry them through the TSA checkpoint without getting hassled.

Why it matters to travelers: Perfect solution for a quick freshen-up on a trip.
Price: From $8.99 for a single use travel pack
Gadling review: August 14th 2008

MoGo Mouse

The MoGo mouse is a credit card sized mouse designed to fit inside the expansion slot of your laptop. You’ll need Bluetooth in your laptop (or a USB Bluetooth adapter), but the rest is all plug and play.

The mouse recharges in just a few minutes when inserted in your laptop and a small folding stand raises the mouse off your desk for ease of use. The mouse is surprisingly easy to use and is available for PCCard and Expresscard/54 laptops.

Why it matters to travelers: Easy to carry, and usually better than the built in mouse of your laptop.
Price: From $79.99
Gadling review: Coming soon

The Notebook Buffer

As portable computers become faster, the heat they produce increases. With some computers I have tested, I’ve measured well over 135F on the bottom of the machine. With heat like this, you get dangerously close to injury territory.

There have always been notebook cooling pads, but they add more bulk to your luggage, and the fans inside these coolers drain even more battery power from your laptop. In my quest for a better solution, I came across The Notebook Buddy.

This fabric mesh cooling pad is made of thousands of little springy pieces of plastic, allowing for air flow under your machine. The pad can be rolled up and stuffed in your carry on bag.

Why it matters to travelers: Allows you to use your notebook on your lap without burning yourself
Price: $18.95
Gadling review: October 9th 2008

Product review – BlueAnt Supertooth 3 Bluetooth handsfree carkit

In this product review I’m going to review the BlueAnt Supertooth 3 Bluetooth carkit. This portable handsfree carkit connects to your phone using Bluetooth, so naturally you’ll only be able to use it if your phone has this feature (most do nowadays).

The carkit itself is very compact and has just 4 buttons; on/pickup, off/hangup and 2 volume controls. I have to admit that most Bluetooth carkits I’ve tested in the past never impressed me much, they were usually tinny, did not go loud enough and were too basic for making a good quality phone call.

The Supertooth 3 is different in every possible way; calls are amazingly crisp, the volume goes up loud enough that you’ll be able to make a clear call with your windows open and you can have a conversation without the other party asking if you are trapped inside a barrel.

The device itself is very cleverly designed; on the back of the carkit are 2 very strong magnets which stick to the included sun visor clip, the smart people at BlueAnt have made it possible to stick the unit to the front and the back of this clip, which means it is possible to fold down your visor and still have access to the buttons. It’s a simple design feature, but one I’m very impressed with.
When the Supertooth 3 is turned on for the first time, you can select the language of its spoken commands. It goes through all the languages programmed in the device until you reach the one you understand (don’t worry, English is first).

These spoken commands actually announce an incoming call, which brings me to the most powerful feature of the Supertooth 3; Text To Speech. Once you have “paired” your Bluetooth phone with the device, you can transfer your address book to it.

With this address book stored in the carkit, you’ll get spoken announcements of the caller name! The unit even has voice recognition for answering phone calls completely hands free. Initially I set the device to “American English”, but quickly changed it to “British English” as the lady in that voice just sounds more friendly.

There is actually one other feature built into the Supertooth 3 that I have never seen before in any other portable carkit; a vibration sensor. This sensor detects whether the car is moving, and turns the unit off if it thinks you have stopped. This means that you don’t have to reach for the power button every time you get in or out of your car. In everyday use, this feature worked brilliantly. It would turn the carkit off about 5 minutes after turning the car off, and the unit would turn on the moment someone gets in the car.

The Supertooth 3 has an internal Lithium-Ion battery pack. In my review I’ve managed to get about 2 weeks of use out of a full battery with about 30 minutes of calls a day.

I tested the Supertooth 3 with a variety of phones, and none of them had any issues pairing with the carkit. I did notice that some phones (Windows powered devices) do not support address book transfers, but that is a missing feature of the phone, not the Supertooth 3.

Included in the box of the Supertooth 3 is the device itself, a car charger, an AC charger and 2 visor clips. The Supertooth 3 has a regular MiniUSB port, so you can even use your computer to charge it if you carry your own MiniUSB cable.

After several weeks with the Supertoth 3 I have to say I’m very impressed, it has completely changed my view of Bluetooth carkits. With several states completely banning the use of your phone without a handsfree device, it is the perfect little product for using in a rental car, but would work equally well as a handsfree phone in your hotel room. The microphone is so sensitive that it would even function perfectly as a conference phone if you need to make an emergency call back to the office with several people at a table.

The MSRP of the Supertooth 3 is $129.99, but retailers like Newegg have it in stock for just $78.99. The Supertooth 3 comes with a 2 year manufacturer warranty.