Wednesday, November 21, 2007

12 Gadgets for Expatriate Travel

I recently came across a list of "killer gadgets" that you should have when you hit the road. It was a bit too flashy to be practical, though, and missed the necessities. But it did lead me to think of the dozen things that I carry in my "Widget wallet": most are small, universal, and USB-based so that I don't need to carry more plugs or cables than necessary.

w80_front_silver A Sony W80 7.2 MPixel camera

Point and shoot with image stabilization, it takes sharp pictures. Zeiss optics and a bright screen on the reverse side: the low-light pictures have been very good, and the pocket size is great.

800i phone An Ericsson K800i global cell phone with local SIM cards.

I carry a UK card, a Dutch card, and a US card in my wallet. I unlocked the phone for 10 gbp down at the market in Cambridge.

jabra-bluetooth-headset A Jabra 250 Bluetooth Headset

Stylish and light, good sound quality, and simple and reliable pairing.

worldadapterplug A Fujifilm universal plug adapter and a spare fuse for it.

It works for US, UK, and European plugs, and for small loads such as camera chargers and laptop computers. A small power inverter with universal plugs for the cigarette lighter in a vehicle is almost as good.

ImmersionCoil An immersion heater

Great for heating water, soup, coffee, or nighttime cold medicine.

Tomtom910 A TomTom 910

Pricy but indispensible in Europe. You simply can't translate street signs, read a map, shift, and watch traffic, all at the same time on winding city streets. The "Map Lady" seldom fails to point out the route, estimate times, find gasoline and restaurants, and warn of speed traps.

sansa_express A Sansa Express 2 GB Music Player

Holds hours of music or podcasts, doubles as a memory stick, charges and transfers through the USB connection, accepts any earbuds or headset. Includes an FM radio and voice recorder.

LASPTR4-001 A combination LED Penlight and Laser Pointer

The combination unit is nice, although I'd prefer a green pointer to a red one.

Ativa Media Card reader An Ativa 24-in-1 USB media card reader

Good for transferring photos out of the camera or exchanging them with others. It also handles SIM cards.

wd_passport_1 A Western Digital Passport 250 GB USB Harddrive

About as big as your hand but holds an amazing amount of data. I use it for caching pictures and archived files, as well as DVD movies that I've ripped to it for viewing in hotels on rainy night.

Kensigntonwifinder A Kensington WiFinder

A sniffer that tells you when you are in range of a WiFi hotspot: I've used it to find sweet spots in hotels, and open ports along residential streets late at night when I have to have a connection in an unfamiliar town.

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