Category Archives: travel accessories

Keep In Touch with GoTenna at CES



goTenna LogoThere are still parts of the country where there is no mobile (cell) phone coverage. There are those who would say this is a good thing, especially when it comes to wildness areas and places of outstanding beauty. However, there are times when it’s good to be able to get in touch with others when out hiking or skiing, especially if people get separated. Aylee talks about the great outdoors with Jorge Perdoma, co-founder of goTenna, about their solution to this problem.

goTenna is a small radio transceiver that pairs with smartphones to provide point-to-point communication when there’s no cell tower in range. It’s a bit like converting your phone into a walkie-talkie but with modern features like text and GPS. The goTenna app on the smartphone works with the goTenna itself to handle all the communication and the transceiver doesn’t need to be in the hand at all – it can be stashed in the outer pocket of a backpack. Range is anywhere from a mile to a couple of miles depending on the environment.

The goTenna has been shipping for a few months and it’s US$200 for a pair of units from goTenna.

Aylee Nielsen is a video producer at F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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JAQ Fuel Cell Battery from MyFC



JAQ fuel cellIt wouldn’t be CES without a fuel cell-based smartphone charger making an appearance, and as expected Swedish company myFC turns up with the JAQ, the world´s smallest pocket-sized fuel cell charger. CEO Bjorn Westerholm shows Daniel and Todd the colourful charger.

The winner of a 2016 German Design Award, the charger consists of two parts; an inner replaceable PowerCard (orange) and the outer JAQ fuel cell (blue). The PowerCard is made from water and salt and when mixed, hydrogen is produced which is then combined in the fuel cell with oxygen from the atmosphere to generate electricity along with waste water. The card is thrown away once discharged.

A single PowerCard provides 1800 mAh though with additional PowerCards, more power is available. The best use case for the JAQ and the PowerCards is when the owner is far away from an electrical power source, say, camping.

The PowerCards are expected to retail for under US$2 and the fuel cell itself will be rented for around $5 per month as part of a phone contract. JAQ is expected to be available soon.

Todd Cochrane is the host of the twice-weekly Geek News Central Podcast at GeekNewsCentral.com.
Daniel J. Lewis is the host of the award-winning podcast about podcasting, The Audacity to Podcast. Daniel helps others launch and improve their own podcasts for sharing their passions and finding success.

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Carloudy Head-Up Display Keeps Eyes Ahead



CarloudyHead-up displays (HUD) used to be the preserve of fighter jets and James Bond, but Cognitive AI Technologies wants to bring the technology to an affordable level for everyone through an aftermarket, dash-mounted head-up display. Jamie and Daniel take a look at Carloudy with Javy Kong.

Apparently one-in-four car accidents involves the inappropriate use of cell phones while driving and though some uses are clearly plain stupid, like reading email, there are some genuinely useful apps, such as navigation. To remove the need to look away from the road ahead, Carloudy projects relevant information up onto the windscreen, including directions, speed and fuel consumption. A small unit roughly the size of a paperback book, the Carloudy sits on top of the dash and works in conjunction with a smartphone. Connecting wirelessly via Bluetooth to the phone, Carloudy accepts voice commands to show what the driver wants . With a battery life of around two weeks, there’s no need for extra wiring.

The Carloudy is available for pre-order via Kickstarter and if you get in quick, there are units available from US$179. Usual caveats apply regarding projects on Kickstarter.

Jamie Davis is the host of Health Tech Weekly at HTWeekly.com. He is a nurse, paramedic and health journalist. Daniel J Lewis dares you to get started in podcasting with The Audacity to Podcast.

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OGIO’s Chelsea and Gran Premio Bag Collections at CES 2016



OGIOLeading lifestyle bag design company OGIO is debuting their new Chelsea and Gran Premio Collections at CES 2016, providing stylish and functional solutions for the modern generation.

OGIO’s designs mold fashion and functionality into trendy yet useful bags especially suited for toting all your electronic gadgets. Each bag contains a variety of pockets and zippered compartments to safely stow all your devices without sacrificing appearance.

134The Chelsea Collection is geared towards everyday use. Each of the four different bags (with two styles to choose from) is lined with smart compartments to fit everyday necessities such as glasses, cell phones, wallets, and notepads, along with convenient padded sleeves to hold your laptop and tablet. The streamlined design means you’ll spend less time fumbling around for your essentials and more time getting things done, making it the perfect solution for the modern, busy woman.

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For a more high-end solution, the Gran Premio Collection combines elegance and intelligence into every detail. The AL Gran Premio Series features full grain, premium quality Saffiano leather, while the NL Series features fashionable yet rugged 1680D nylon with carbon embossed full grain leather accents. The Gran Premio collection offers ten different action-inspired styles, each with various features to suit your individual lifestyle.

The NL-005, with a rear Pullman pass-through for easy luggage transportation and an interior zippered document storage pocket, is perfect for the modern traveller. It also includes a padded sleeve for your laptop or tablet and an interior main pocket organizer for easy storage and protection. The AL-101 is ideal for the busy professional. It’s fully equipped with an easy-close magnetic front flap and a backwall organizational panel with compartments for business card, pens, tablets, and smartphones, rounding out OGIO’s most premium collection to date.

The Chelsea and Gran Premio Collections will be available in January 2016. For more information, visit OGIO’s website or stop by Booth 5931 in North Hall at the Las Vegas Convention Center at CES.


Kensington Introduces SecureTrek Line of Lockable Bags at CES 2016



Kensignton SecureTrek BagsKensington, a worldwide leader in delivering smart, safe, simple desktop and mobile computing accessories, has introduced SecureTrek, a new travel bag portfolio designed with anti-theft features for users traveling for business, commuting to work, or simply moving around campus.

Kensington has been the leading provider of mobile device and PC locks for more than 30 years. They developed the SecureTrek portfolio with premium security features. The line includes four travel bags that will be showcased at CES Unveiled 2016.

The Kensington SecureTrek 15” Laptop Backpack comes in black and is $99.99.

The Kensington SecureTrek 15” Laptop Carrying Case also comes in black and is $99.99.

The Kensington SecureTrek 17” Laptop Overnight Backpack comes in black and is $119.99.

The Kensington SecureTrek 17” Laptop Overnight Roller also comes in black and is $149.99.

Features include:
* SecureTrek Lock Base lets users click in hammerhead zipper pulls to help prevent theft attempts and unauthorized access.

* Kensington Portable Laptop Lock (sold separately) secures backpacks or bags to a fixed object.

* Anti-puncture zipper on the device compartment resists intrusion by a sharp object.

* Lock Loop is ideal for a TSA-approved travel lock when checking the backpack or bag at the airport.

* Padded device compartments hold up to 15.6″ laptop and 10″ tablet in the 15″ Laptop Backpack and Laptop Carrying Case.

* Padded device compartments hold up to 17″ laptop and 10″ tablet in the 17″ Laptop Overnight Backpack and Laptop Overnight Roller.

* Workstation pocket organizes chargers, pens, business cards, keys and more.

* Wheeled luggage pass-through on the Laptop Backpack, Carrying Case and Overnight Backpack conveniently straps to an extended handle.

* Laptop Backup and Laptop Carrying Case include ample space for files and personal items.

* Laptop Overnight Backpack and Laptop Overnight Roller include ample space for clothing in addition to files and personal items.

* Laptop Backpack and Laptop Overnight Backpack offer a padded back for a more comfortable carry, especially when the backpack is full.

* Laptop Backpack has a checkpoint-friendly design allowing it to lay flat through scanner (following all TSA instructions).

* All bags meet airline carry-on guidelines for stowing in an overhead bin.


Hudway Glass at CES 2016



maxresdefaultIt can be tempting to glance at your cell phone or check the time while driving, but we all know it’s critical to keep your eyes on the road. Hudway aims to solve this problem with the Hudway Glass.

The Hudway Glass is a new driving accessory that turns your smartphone into an unobstructive display that lets you view real-time direchudway_logo_45124tions, road curvature, speed, and other important information without taking your eyes off the road. The Hudway Glass attaches to the dashboard of your car using one of two mounting options– a compact 5mm mount for everyday usage or a 30-degree tilting mount.

The multi-layered glass display is specially designed to prevent glare, image doubling, or poor image size or quality, so you’ll be able to clearly view the information without any dangerous distractions.

The Hudway Glass costs $49 and is available for preorder now here. Be sure to visit the Hudway folks at CES in Hall G, booth 80752 at the Eureka Park Marketplace.


Magellan Leads With Four New MiVue DashCams for CES



Magellan LogoFor those who want to record their travels for pleasure or have to keep their insurance premiums down out of necessity, GPS pioneers Magellan have announced four new affordable MiVue DashCams for the upcoming CES 2016. To be clear, these aren’t navigation devices, but instead record video of journeys, accidents and other unexpected events. The new MiVue 320, MiVue 420, MiVue 430 and MiVue 450D are all designed to be unobtrusively located on the dash, while having a comprehensive base set of features, including

  • Magellan 420 DashCamMiVue Manager – Intuitive interface to browse recorded videos. Video recorded from the Impact Sensor can be reviewed for post-accident analysis. Video may be shared on social media sites like YouTube and Facebook
  • Parking Mode – In situations where there’s an impact while the car is parked, the DashCam wakes up to record the event. You can even choose to have the device always recording with vehicles that have constant power supplies.
  • Impact Sensor – Records impact forces, which show the direction and magnitude of a collision.
  • Night View Enhancement – Automatic day or night light adjustment assuring the best picture quality regardless of lighting conditions.
  • Impact Event Recording – When the 3-axis sensor detects sudden changes in motion, the device instantly saves protected files to prevent them from being overwritten.
  • Camera Mode – Switch to Camera Mode to collect photo evidence or create lasting memories. With the built-in battery, the device can be taken out of the car to get close-up photos.
  • Rotating Mount Design – Mount easily pivots to any desired angle assuring you never miss an important moment.
  • GPS Tracking – The built-in, high-sensitivity GPS receiver automatically records your driving information on the video, so you have both a location and time stamp during playback.
  • Wide Angle Lens – The 140° wide-angle lens provides an enhanced peripheral view to record the entire street.

The top-end 450D comes with dual cameras to record a wide 240° view or both inside and outside of the vehicle, and has WiFi connectivity. The 420 and 430 DashCams provide additional safety with Lane Departure warnings and Front Collision Avoidance alerts.

Magellan is excited to expand its award-winning line of MiVue DashCam models. Our four new models are designed with superior image quality, large storage capacity and extended battery life,” commented Stig Pedersen, Magellan Associate Vice President of Product Management.

The new Magellan MiVue DashCams will be available from Q2 2016 at retailers throughout the U.S. and Canada as well as online at www.magellangps.com in with prices expected to start at $109.99.

If you want to know more, the DashCams will be on show at CES 2016 in the Magellan Booth, LVCC South Hall MP25441.


Booq Cobra Laptop Briefcase Review



booq LogoOn review here is the Booq Cobra Laptop Briefcase, a lightweight and high-spec laptop bag. Unlike some of the other Booq bags that I’ve reviewed here for GNC, it’s in the more traditional style for those circumstances where a rucksack looks a little bit too casual. Designed for laptops with screens up to 16″, it’s made with ballistic nylon complimented by lower leather trim, meaning it looks good but is durable too. As you’ll see from the pictures, the YKK zips are mostly on show in bright steel, though the main laptop compartment has a covered waterproof zip.

Booq Cobra Side

Booq Cobra with Laptop

Opening it up, the Cobra has plenty of room inside, with five main compartments for gear. Starting from one side…

  1. Booq Cobra InnerZipped pocket with Booq’s corporate copper-coloured inner, suitable for an A5 size notepad or tablet.
  2. Open pocket with soft jersey inner. Additional easy access pockets within suitable for purse, wallet, mobile phone, MP3 player or tablet. Useful when on the go but gear may fall out.
  3. Big zipped pocket with copper inner. Further internal pockets for A4 notepad and bigger devices, perhaps external hard drive, PSU or even lunchboxes. Couple of pen pockets and a keyring too. Handily, the zip on this goes at least three quarters of the way down the side of the Cobra, so it opens wide. Not sure you’d quite get a change of clothes in here but it’s close.
  4. Big hidden waterproof zipped pocket, with soft padded lining. The is obviously intended for the main device and it comfortably took a big Toshiba Satellite Pro.
  5. Simple open pocket with copper inner, big enough for a magazine or A4 notepad.

There’s padding and protection between the compartments, so gear is going to be looked after wherever it is.

Booq’s copper-coloured inner may not be to everyone’s taste, but it’s much easier to find stuff in the depths of the pockets. To some extent the pictures don’t do the colour justice – it’s better in real life, as they say.

Booq Cobra CarryFor carriage, the Cobra’s well covered. To start with, there’s the two handles which are comfortable without being overly broad, and attach to the bag with seatbelt-style webbing. The handles fold back into the bag when not needed, keeping the bag neat. Then there’s an over-the-shoulder strap, made from similar webbing with a large shoulder pad and metal clasps at each end. And finally there’s a webbing loop that can be passed over the handle of a trolley suitcase to sit the Cobra on top.

Even better, the Cobra has a flat bottom, so the bag stays upright when put down (mostly!).

As with all Booq bags, the Cobra is tagged with a Terralinq serial number, which is Booq’s “lost and found” service, giving a much greater chance of being reunited with lost gear. Let’s hope you never need to use it.

At US$295, GB£210 or 295€, the Booq Cobra isn’t an impulse purchase so I imagine the briefcase will be protecting some high-end gear. The Cobra seems a quality product – well finished, no lose threads, metal fixtures – and it’s perfect for cossetting a MacBook Pro or gaming laptop while travelling. Available on-line (US, UK, Europe) and other good retailers.

Thanks to Booq for the review Cobra.


Plantronics Calisto 620 Speakerphone Review



Plantronics Logo

On review here is the Plantronics Calisto 620 UC wireless Bluetooth speakerphone. It’s designed to pair with a smartphone or tablet for impromptu teleconferences and as the UC (Unified Communications) variant, the Calisto comes with a pre-paired USB Bluetooth transceiver, working well with IP-based telephony such as Microsoft’s Lync or Skype for Business.

In my experience, speakerphones fall into two categories; those that are normal phones with a speakerphone capability and those that are dedicated speakerphones and typically have no handset. The former usually sound rubbish with the feature added to tick a box, whereas the latter can provide clear communication into a meeting. Let’s take a look and see if the Calisto 620 also provides that much needed clear communication.

With the unboxing video out of the way, how well does the Calisto work in practice? It’s certainly very easy to use. Once paired with a smartphone, it can be treated as simple Bluetooth headset. The 620 doesn’t have voice dialling or voice commands, so calls have to be placed via the smartphone. I don’t see this as an issue given the expected usage of the Calisto 620 within an office environment. Incoming calls can be answered by pressing the call button on the unit.

Using the 620 with IP telephony was similarly easy. The pre-paired Bluetooth transceiver plugs into a spare USB port on the PC and the connection to the 620 is established automatically. For incoming calls, press the call button to take the call; for outbound calls, select the Calisto as the audio device in Lync and dial via the softphone.

The Calisto 620 supports A2DP meaning that music or video soundtrack can played through the speaker. Ok, it’s not hi-fi, but it’s a massive improvement on most smartphone speakers. The volume isn’t going to fill a lecture theatre but for a conference room or office, it’s perfectly adequate.

With regard to audio quality, it’s surprisingly good on both sides of the call. According to the Plantronics specification, the Calisto has “Bi-directional microphones (that) activate in the direction of speaker’s voice” and “Full duplex audio with 360° room coverage”. What that means is that 620 can pick out whoever is talking wherever they are in the room…

One of the biggest benefits is simply that the Calisto 620 is battery powered and can be located wherever is most convenient. Cabled (speaker)phones are still restricted to the length of the cord. Battery life is rated at seven hours talk time which I think is accurate as I got a working day of music out of the 620, with a few breaks here and there.

In summary, the Plantronics Calisto 620 wireless speakerphone is an ideal addition to the office arsenal of technology. Whether paired to a smartphone or IP telephony, the 620 provides portable voice-conferencing for small groups which can be up and running in seconds. At around GB£80, it’s competitively priced against its rivals, many of which don’t have the seamless integration with Microsoft Lync or other IP telephony systems.

Thanks to Plantronics for supplying the review Calisto 620 speakerphone. Feedback welcome from GNC readers on the unboxing video.


Booq Boa Shift Backpack Review



booq LogoOn review here is the Booq Boa Shift, a lightweight laptop backpack and brother to the Booq Taipan Shock reviewed a few weeks ago. Cut from the same cloth, both physical and metaphorically, the Shift takes laptops up to 17″ compared with the Shock’s 16″, but there’s little in it terms of overall size at 46 x 34 x 20 cm. There’s plenty of room inside for the gadgets and gear, with a slim pocket for the laptop, a larger section for gear and a couple of outer pockets for easy access. It’s a svelte, streamlined pack when all zipped up.

booq Boa Shift

The outer material is 1680D triweave water-repellent polyester closed with YKK zips and all the stitching is neatly finished and taped over on the inside. It looks like a quality product – there are no stray threads or sticky zips. The specs say the Shift weighs around 1.4 kg (3 lb) which is heavier than the Shock and although I don’t have the benefit of the two backpacks side by side, the Shift does feel a little more substantial with extra internal pockets.

The dedicated laptop section is closest to the back side of the Shift and has padding on all sides. It took every laptop I had with ease, including a hefty HP ProBook with a near 16″ screen. My small Chromebook almost disappeared inside it.

booq Boa Shift Internal Pocket

In the main section, there’s a selection of zipped pockets, netted areas, keyrings and pen-holders with plenty of room for books and lunchboxes too. The Boa Shift has flashes of yellow both inside and on the back. The main pocket opens good and wide for easy access to the insides.

booq Boa Shift Internal Pocket

The Boa is loaded with features. To start with all the zips are YKK’s water-repellent versions, so once closed up the bag will keep gear dry in a rain shower, and the bag looks neat as there are no zip teeth showing. Each side of the bag has two open pockets which will take a small bottle of water or perhaps boarding passes. The shoulder straps have two small elastic pockets that can take small items, such as an mp3 player. On the rear, there’s a separate zipped pocket, just the right size for an ereader or small tablet.

booq Boa Shift back

One final touch is a small separate zipped pouch for bits’n’pieces like headphones or credit cards. I can see it being handy travelling too, as you could put all the essentials in it and simply pull out the pouch before putting the Shift in the overhead bin.

Comfort-wise, the shoulder straps are well padded and can be adjusted for fit. There are little loops on the end of the straps to help tighten when needed. There’s an airmesh back padding to help with the load while keeping cool. I loaded the Boa up with some books and lugged it around for a bit and there’s no complaints here.

booq Boa Shift Straps

Finally, as with all Booq backpacks, the Boa Shift comes with Terralinq, a service designed to reunite lost bags with owners. By pairing a serial number on the backpack with the purchaser, the Shift can be returned should it be found.

Overall, as with Taipan Shock, the Booq Boa Shift is a well-made backpack that has plenty of pockets and space for safely toting the biggest of laptops and all the gear that goes with them. The Boa Shift is available from Amazon.co.uk for around GB£120, which is pricey enough and given that the Shock is currently retailing for about half the price, unless you need that extra 1″ or so, I’d stick with the Shock. However, if size matters (or you want a more streamlined pack), take a look at the Boa Shift.

Thanks to Booq for the loan of the Boa Shift.