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The Best Travel Gadget Ever
Whilst I’m fairly technical and like my gadgets, its rare that I am really impressed with a new toy, and rarely does a new toy exceed my expectations. Now having put the new toy through its paces whilst being away, I can only say I’m even more impressed than before.
What is it?
Its our iPod Touch third generation. The comments herein also apply to the iPhone and perhaps iPad – though the iPad is a lot bigger (which has benefits) it is also too big to be discreet.
Whats an iPod Touch?
Well firstly, its a music player. Though never, ever think that just because it has iPod in its name then thats all it does. It has the same software as the iPhone and thus has millions of applications (though most you won’t want) – but it does have some awesome features which as a travel gadget mean it has a very versatile use. The amazon links above have all the technical specifications, but…
Features for travellers like us!
- Music: Ok I hate iTunes, but once all your music is on the thing you have one of the best MP3 players available, with album art, genius mixes and very good sound quality.
- Bluetooth: With the Bluetooth, we’ve bonded the iPod to our van stereo so we can play our music over the van stereo without wires. This means we can have the iPod and controls in the back of the van and play the music out of the front. Neat!
- Good battery: Only needs charging up if you use it a lot, and it charges quickly via a £2.99 ebay charger!
- Screen: Very good screen that can be easily read indoors and outside. Small enough to be discreet, but clear enough to read even small text. Touch gestures mean using it and zooming is trivial.
- WiFi: Very easy connection to WiFi hotspots and unsecured networks. Excellent for discreet walk by scanning and quick connects.
- eMail: Very good email connectivity including offline caching meaning you can write emails and store them for when you have a connection; and also download all your emails for reading later.
- Maps: If you get even brief internet access in a town, you can click on “Maps” and download the local map which is cached. Not only that, it works out where you are through wifi location. Very rough but it is good enough to stop you getting lost. The iPhone GPS will be much more accurate but even the WiFi location guess it positions you accurately enough.
- Safari: Very good internet browser – that although small, the zooming is great and makes a quick surf very easy to do. It even renders this site well!
- Games: Virtually an unlimited supply of free and cheap games from the iStore and the quality is better than the Nintendo DS – so much so the DS hasn’t even been turned on for the last few months… Still trying to get 3* on all Angry Birds levels..!
- Included apps: Diary and Contacts integrate with Outlook, and Calculator and other conversion utilities just work. They feel like quality and not some afterthought and are fully integrated into eMail.
- Paid applications: There are some great applications you can buy though I’m not going to recommend specifics. Suffice to say there are translators, tourist applications, city guides, walking tours etc. Just amazing what there is….
- Skype: Yep – you can make free or paid skype calls from it from a wifi connection!
This is tip of iceburg really – it just works – and if you have a particular requirement there is almost certainly (within reason) going to be an application for it on iTunes. (e.g. underground maps, train timetables, games, facebook, google-earth etc etc).
Is there any gadget better?
Than an iPod touch? Yes – an iPhone would beat it. The iPhone also has camera, GPS, and digital compass which are all excluded from the iPod touch. However, we found it difficult to justify the additional iPhone costs especially as abroad we don’t use it as a phone, thus the iPod touch won for us. If you have unlimited funds, or indeed use a phone a lot, then consider an iPhone. However ensure the iPhone “phone” is off when abroad else you will get stung for huge roaming data charges. (The iPod touch will never have any running costs)
All my experience of other gadgets, mobiles, and Windows Smart phones just don’t really compete with the iPod touch. They feel flaky in comparison and many features feel like afterthoughts. They definitely aren’t as easy to use as the iPod touch which, quite simple, does what you what in the way you expect.
So – thats our best gadget – multiple uses and it just works. Thats my top tip – even though I hate Apple!