Gear We Like
Travel tech news: September 12, 2012
Amazon changes the tablet and e-reader landscape, Nokia lets you power your phone without a cable (occasionally), ExoXGear keeps your phone charged up while you’re cycling and Google does cool things with its mapping software once again.
All in this edition of Travel Tech News for September 12, 2012.
Amazon announces new Kindles, tech world rejoices
After months of speculation about changes to the Kindle range, Amazon last week announced a surprisingly wide range of updates to its flagship e-readers.
The company now competes at every level in the tablet market, from the most basic $69 version (now called simply "Kindle") to the impressive $499 Kindle Fire HD with 4G. From stocking-filler to potential iPad-beater, the updated range has something of interest to almost every traveller.
While it seems unlikely that any of the new Kindles will have the free global web browsing that made the Keyboard 3G our pick for travellers, there is still a lot to like about the new range. With high-speed WiFi connections, faster processors and gorgeous displays on the Fire HD models, even better screens (with inbuilt lights) for the ‘Paperwhite’ e-ink range, and price drops all round, the release date for the new models is November 20.
The new range of Fires, in particular, could well end up being the best options for travellers currently considering an iPad or Nexus 7, and we’re looking forward to seeing how they perform in the real world. The full range, with complete specifications, can be found on the Amazon site.
Wireless charging on the go becomes a reality … if you have a new Nokia
Remember Nokia? They used to be kind of a big deal, regularly introducing new technology and concepts while dominating the mobile phone market – before Apple and Android devices stole most of their market share.
Well, they’ve just announced something pretty damn cool – inbuilt wireless charging in their new flagship phone, the Lumia 920, and a partnership with both Virgin Atlantic and Coffee Bean Tea Leaf to actually let you use it.
Personally we love the idea of turning up at an airport lounge or coffee shop, resting our phones on a pad while reading the paper or sipping a latte, and walking out with a full battery a while later. The more widespread (and, hopefully, device-independent) this technology becomes, the better it will be for travellers.
Bring it on.
Charge your phone while pedalling around the world
If you’re a fan of seeing the world by bicycle (and we know there are a lot of you out there), this new accessory from EcoXGear might be right up your alley. With an increasing reliance on smartphones for staying in touch and route guidance, keeping your phone charged can be a major hassle – especially on a bicycle.
Enter the EcoXPower. At a little under $100 from Amazon, this accessory is a cost-effective way of ensuring that battery-sucking mapping app doesn’t leave your phone dead by lunchtime. Using only pedal power, the device clamps onto the front wheel and provides enough juice to power the integrated front and back lights while simultaneously charging a smartphone or GPS.
The phone sits in a waterproof case mounted on the handlebars, leaving it usable while being charged.
A simple, cost-effective solution to a common problem. We like it.
Driving in India and cycling in New Zealand, via Google Maps
Speaking of cycling, there have been a bunch of new updates to Google Maps lately – some of which may be of interest to travellers. If you’re
crazy interested in driving around India, turn-by-turn navigation is now available, as well as live traffic data for half a dozen of the larger cities. No word on whether that data includes a cow positioning system.
A few thousand kilometres away, cycling routes have been added as an option in New Zealand. These routes take advantage of cycle lanes and rider-friendly routes (think: fewer hills) to make the experience more enjoyable for those using pedal power.