Tag Archives: travel

Pacum Sucks…And That’s a Good Thing



Master Space LogoBudget airlines have revolutionised air travel over the past few decades, and while the seats might be cheap, putting luggage in the hold can be pricey: I was recently on a trip where the ticket price trebled when hold baggage was added, so you really want to try and get everything into your hand luggage to get the cost down. Clothes can be bulky, though, and it’s difficult to get everything needed into a small trolley case.

Sitting on the bag in the hope of getting the zip done up isn’t the solution, but the Masterspace Pacum Travel Vacuum Compressor might be. It’s a personal vacuum packer, meaning the clothes go in an airtight bag before the air is sucked out by the Pacum, squeezing the garments down to a fraction of their size. That’s how you get more clothes in the trolley case. Let’s take a closer look.

Pacum vacuum compressor with accessoriesThe Pacum comes in a box which belies the diminutive size of the Pacum itself. Available in three colours; red, white and black, the Pacum is smaller than a 330 ml drinks can and is more rectangular than round. The actual dimensions are 86 x 43 x 43 mm and weighs in at 145 g. The Pacum looks good with features on three of the six surfaces. On the bottom are two rubberised air holes, one for vacuuming and one for inflation. On the top is a USB C port for powering the Pacum and on the side are three buttons for Eco, Super and Inflation modes.

In the box, there’s the Pacum itself, a 1 m USB C cable, a Pacum vacuum bag and adaptors for other vacuum bags, pool toys and sports balls, plus a small travel drawstring bag. To be clear, there is no USB charger supplied and, contrary to my first thoughts, there’s no battery in the Pacum either. It’s fully powered by the USB C port on the top, and a 2 A power supply is required, either from a mains charger or a battery pack. 1 A will not work and the Pacum will cut out with a flashing red light. Trust me on this.

Pacum on Bag Before CompressionReady to go on your holidays? Put the clothes you’re taking into the vacuum bag and arrange them to suit the available space in the luggage – you’ll not be able to do this afterwards. Close up the bag and make sure it’s properly sealed along the edge. Unscrew the cap in middle on the vacuum bag and then slip the Pacum over the nozzle. It uses the larger of the two air holes on the bottom so it’s hard to go wrong.

Assuming that the power cable is plugged in to suitable power source, pressing either of the two “minus” buttons (-) and (=) will start the Pacum up in either Eco or Super mode. Simplistically, Super sucks harder than Eco, although I can’t really see any good reason to use Eco mode. While sucking, the light on the Pacum flashes blue and it’ll go red if there’s not enough power being supplied to the device.

Pacum on Bag After CompressionUsing the supplied bag with a couple of t-shirts and jumper (that’s a sweater for those across the pond), it took about 90 seconds for the Pacum to evacuate all the air from the bag, resulting in a stiff but thin packet that uses a fraction of the original space. The two before and after pictures show the difference and you can watch my review video below.

The main purpose for Pacum is to remove air from vacuum bags, but that’s not its only trick. Inflating holiday pool toys usually involves much huffing and puffing, but Pacum will pump up the inflatables in no time. Use one of the three adaptors in the air outlet and press the Inflation (+) button. It would take awhile to inflate a large paddling pool but makes short work of rubber rings and footballs. The air outlet looks to be a standard size, so existing adaptors will likely work fine with the Pacum.

My only real gripe with the Pacum is that the supplied USB C cable is frustratingly short at only 1 m and would recommend twice the length for any practical use. Yes, you might get lucky with a hotel that has sockets on the counter but frequently they’re down behind the bed which is just a PITA with a short cable.

Pricewise, the Pacum is currently on sale at US$60 / GB£46 (RRP is $80/£61) and a set of five vacuum bags is US$29 / GB£22 (prices are rounded).

Overall, the Pacum is really neat little gadget that’s well-designed and works as described. Is it worth buying? Ultimately that’s a maths problem. If you fly frequently or travel as a family, I imagine it will be easy to save money with the Pacum by reducing or avoiding hold luggage charges. Do the sums.

There’s more in the unboxing and demo video below.

Thanks to Master Space for providing the Pacum for review.


Don’t be lost for (foreign) words with Pocketalk



Us Brits aren’t known for our linguistic abilities shamefully relying on our continental cousins to speak English rather than learning the local lingo. Fortunately, we can now cover our embarrassment by using the Pocketalk Voice Translator, a two-way voice translator that instantly translates between 74 languages.

The winner of the ‘Innovation Award in Mobile Computing’ at IFA 2018, Pocketalk lets you both talk naturally. You say what you want in your language and Pocketalk says the same thing in their language…and they can talk right back at the Pocketalk, which converts their response into your language. Genius!

The Pocketalk is small and compact, with a small screen to show a text version of the conversation. There are three different finishes – gold, black and white – and battery life is around 7 hours in use, with 10 days in sleep mode.

The Pocketalk does need a data connection to work and this can be WiFi, built-in mobile data or a personal hotspot. Of course, it uses “AI” to do the translation but the “Pocketalk Voice Translator with Built-In Data” comes with two years of free mobile data in over 120 countries. There are no monthly subscription fees for the first twenty-four months.

Yes, there are apps that do a similar function, but the Pocketalk is a dedicated device for the task and comes with noise-cancelling microphones, betters speakers and specialised software.

Noriyuki Matsuda, CEO and founder of parent company Sourcenext, said, “The need to connect cultures and make the world feel a little smaller is stronger than ever and that’s exactly our goal with this device. We developed Pocketalk to help people of all backgrounds providing them with an instant open line of communication and foster a mutual understanding and respect among different cultures. When you have the right tools, language is a gateway and not a barrier.

That might be true but when you need directions to the nearest toilet, Pocketalk will do brilliantly.

Pocketalk is available now from Amazon UK and Amazon US for GB£259 and US$299 respectively.


Get Cooking with a Cauldryn at CES 2018



Stainless steel insulated water bottles are commonplace today and have largely taken over from the glass vacuum flasks – the latter are just too delicate, especially for camping and hillwalking. And while the steel bottles are good are keeping stuff warm, the liquid has to be hot in the first place….or does it? Cauldryn Fyre bottles have a built-in heating element which not only keeps liquids warm, it can actually boil water. Colten and Joe have a quick Americano.

The Cauldryn Fyre water bottles feature a modular design, offering a 16-ounce, stainless steel, vacuum insulated bottle with the revolutionary Fyre heating element. The standard Cauldryn Fire is powered from AC but the Fyre Mobile features a rechargeable battery to heat the liquid and keep it hot all day. The mobile base has a couple of USB charging sockets too. There’s a DC base available for heating from 12V / 24V.

The Cauldryn Fire system is modular. Want a smoothie? There’s a blender attachment. Need a light? Snap in the rechargeable battery. It’s even got integration with Ok Google. Seriously, I want one of these.

The Cauldryn Fire is shipping now. The standard Fyre is US$69.99, Fyre Mobile is $129.99 and additional battery units are $69.99. DC base $9.99.

Colten Clymer is one of the team at GeekNewsCentral.com.

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One Size Fits All with Ohyo 2Bag



Back in 2016 I interviewed Guy Jeremiah from Ohyo at The Gadget Show, where he was demonstrating a flexible use bag. Designed by Felix Conran, the bag could be arranged into four different configurations; a tablet bag, messenger bag, a back-pack and a grocery bag.

Returning to 2017, the team’s back together with the Ohyo 2Bag, a re-imagining which focuses on daily life. The 2Bag converts between a messenger bag and a larger carry-all, so imagine starting the day with a laptop in the 2Bag but then being able to buy some groceries on the way home. Inside, the 2Bag has two zipped compartments and as the smaller is waterproof, any leakages from the shopping won’t destroy the electronics.

Designed again by Felix Conran, the grandson of Sir Terence Conran, the 2Bag has additional pockets for keys and phones, plus a ring to hold a collapsible Ohyo bottle. Focussing on the re-usability of the 2Bag, Felix says, “I think we have a huge amount of responsibility as designers. It’s our job to consider everything and that includes where the product ends up… we don’t want to be designing landfill. I want to make objects that have a longer life-cycle than is expected of them because if you only need to buy something once, this is the ultimate in sustainability.

And it’s way more stylish when shopping than a bunch of tatty plastic bags.

To get the 2Bag off the ground, Ohyo has a Kickstarter campaign with early birds getting in at GB£49 (about US$65). The campaign needs a little help, as it’s just under 50% funded with only a week to go, so don’t delay if you want one. Delivery is expected in December 2017 so it could make a good Christmas present.

Ohyo has a good track record on Kickstarter with two successful campaigns for the earlier Ohyo bag but as with all things Kickstarter, just be aware of the risk.

The Kickstarter campaign video is below.

 


Reduce Travel Stress with GoBag BackPack



Domestic and short-haul travel has become a two-edged sword. On the one hand, budget carriers have made getting away from it all much cheaper, but on the other hand, poorly managed security processes, strict luggage allowances and jobsworths have made it tiresome and stressful. I once had an argument with the a security operator as to whether a transparent bag printed with a retailers logo in the middle counted as “clear”. It wasn’t a great start to the holiday. Anyway….

Spotting a niche in the market for carry-on luggage that meets the needs of the traveller, security and the airlines, James Fyfe launched the GoBag on Kickstarter back in 2015 eventually reaching 663% funded with almost 2,500 backers. The special feature of the GoBag is a vacuum-pack compartment that can be stuffed with clothes and then vacumed to suck most of the air out. This dramatically reduces the volume of clothing and is incredibly useful in maximising space. If a vacuum’s not available at the other end, sitting on the bag nearly works as well. Regardless, it’s great for short-breaks.

The Scottish GoBag team are back with an updated GoBag BackPack, a second iteration of the original idea, and looking to repeat the first’s success on Kickstarter. It’s already blown through its target of GB£10,000 and is past £30,000 in a couple of days.

The Backpack has nine features for stress-free travel.

  1. It’s perfect for carry-on at 35 x 55 x 20 cm.
  2. It’s got the vacuum-compression system.
  3. It’s got loads of zips. Makes it easier to find stuff.
  4. It’s got a transparent waterproof wash bag. No leaks and no whining from security Herberts.
  5. It’s got a top pocket for easy-to-get at stuff along with a soft pocket for sunglasses and mobiles phones.
  6. It’s got a secret pocket for important documents (seriously, don’t put your passport and tickets in there –  someone might steal the whole bag!)
  7. It’s got a backpack harness that hides away so it doesn’t snag when it’s not needed.
  8. It’s got a laptop pocket. Duh!
  9. It’s got two bottle pockets. Stay hydrated folks.

There are still a few “Early Bird” offers – get in quick for GB£125 / US$163. If you miss that, it’s £125 / $179.

As always with crowd-funding, don’t spend what you can’t afford to lose, but as GoBag are on to their second campaign after a successful first, there’s a good chance they’ll deliver.


Sitpack 2 Gets Shorty



Continuing their mission to make waiting a little more comfortable, Sitpack have announced version two of their portable compact seat. At first glance, the new model looks exactly like the old one but there are two important improvements which will be covered shortly. I reviewed the original Sitpack back in May and as most of the review still stands, this update will focus on the new features only.

As a quick refresh, initially the Sitpack looks much like a 500 ml drinks can and weighs about the same. Made from glass-fibre reinforced polycarbonate, it’s secret is that it opens up and telescopes out into a T-shaped lean-to seat. The tired owner then rests on the Sitpack with a slight lean backwards. It’s surprisingly effective once any self-consciousness is overcome.

The new version 2 has two main improvements. First, Sitpack v2 has more height adjustment. The telescopic leg has six segments and in the first version, the only adjustment involved the topmost segment which could be extended or collapsed. Simply, v1 only had two different heights (87 cm or 75 cm). With the new version, each segment can be collapsed if needed and v2 has six possible heights, from 32 cm to 87 cm in 11 cm increments. This makes the Sitpack v2 much more useful for shorter people and children, though I have trouble getting my kids to sit still at any time…

I received an early production model of the new version and the instructions still had dire warnings about not collapsing any tubes other than top one, but I’m sure this will be addressed before the Sitpack v2 goes on wider sale. Here’s the Sitpack fully extended showing all the segments on the left, and it shortened to just four segments on the right. As before, the leg locks into place by twisting the segments.

     

The second change involves the rubber foot, which now pops in and out much more easily. With v1, getting the foot out was easy enough with some tugging, but getting it back in involved much twisting and pushing. There’s no change to the foot itself, but there’s now a plastic collar to ease it in to the Sitpack tube.

Currently the Sitpack is available in three colours; Pitch Black, Easy Blue and Black Camo. Base pricing is in euros but the Danish outfit sells to Europe, UK, USA, Canda, Australia, Japan and Hong Kong, to name just a few. The Black and Blue editions are currently €47 (GB£41, US$54) and the Camo one is slightly more at €55 (GB£48, US$63).

Thanks to Mono+Mono for providing the Sitpack for review.

 


Sitpack Portable Compact Seat Review



Rather than the usual “hands-on” review, this is more of a “bottoms-on” assessment as here we have a Sitpack Portable Compact Seat. Based in Copenhagen, Denmark, Mono+Mono announced the Sitpack on Kickstarter in 2014 and since then, over 35,000 Sitpacks have been shipped worldwide. Apparently it’s very popular in Japan, so let’s take a closer look.

At first glance, the Sitpack is not unlike a large drinks can and looks nothing like a chair, but it handily unfolds and telescopes out to T-shaped structure for an impromptu lean-to seat.

All folded up, the Sitpack is much the same size a 500 ml drinks can and weighs about 600 g. Made of glass-fiber reinforced polycarbonate, it’s solid in the hand and weighs in at 600 g. There’s a hinge on one end and peeling apart the other end reveals the telescopic pole, albeit slightly hidden by a large rubber foot.

The Sitpack uses a simple “extend and twist” to lock in place each segment of the leg. Fully extend a leg section and twist through about ten degrees until markers on each segment line up. Obviously it’s tricky the first few times, but it doesn’t take long to get the hang of it.

   

Fully extended the Sitpack is 87 cm tall. The Sitpack can be shortened by one segment for a smaller person, with shorter height of 75 cm. The material suggests that there is an even shorter length of 65 cm but I couldn’t figure out how to shorten it further as there are dire warnings on the top tube of shortening any other tube. If you want to see the extending and collapsing in more detail, Sitpack have a video.

What’s it like to use? The first few goes are really about building up confidence in the Sitpack and deciding the best length. I’m about 5’7″ and I eventually decided that the shorter length worked for me best as it was more of a sitting rather than leaning posture. At full extension, I felt I was leaning against the Sitpack and I didn’t have the confidence, especially on loose or slippy surfaces.

Is the Sitpack comfortable? Well, I’m not going to pretend that the top of the Sitpack is anything other than hard plastic and even Sitpack don’t recommend using it for more than 40 minutes at a time….but it does take the weight off your feet and it kind of feels that you are resting rather than standing. There is a seat cushion accessory (€25) for additional comfort but I wasn’t able to try it out.

For me, Sitpack works best when, say, waiting for a bus or train and you want to read your ereader or tablet. TIimes when you are reasonably static and either on your own or with adult company. It wasn’t a great success on a family outing, as trying to constantly corral two children meant that you never got two minutes to Sitpack still (sorry). I’d also suggest that the Sitpack isn’t the solution for an unsteady elderly relative: you need to be able to balance on the Sitpack.

Sitpack’s customer service is superlative. I had an unfortunate accident and managed to break one of the tubes. To start with, the Sitpack fully disassembles and there’s a video here on how to do it. I contacted Sitpack as an ordinary owner and they sent me out a replacement tube free of charge which arrived from Denmark within a few days. Brilliant.

The Sitpack comes in a range of colours; Pearl White, Pitch Black, Easy Blue and Power Pink plus a couple of special editions such as St. Patrick’s Green and Camo Black (it’s a camouflage pattern). The standard price is €55 / GB£46 / US$60 with one or two versions priced either side (€46 / €65). The foot can be customised too, with the standard black rubber swapped out for six other colours. It would be fun if Sitpack offered colour mixing as a black and white Sitpack with alternating sections would be cool.

Overall I liked the Sitpack and I can see the possibilities, especially for commuters on busy train stations without enough seats. Upfront, it does seem expensive at €55 but I think it’s one of these things where “the quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten”. And Sitpack’s customer service is great. On the downside, it is relatively heavy – you’re not going to be carrying the Sitpack just in case, and you do get a bit of numb bum after awhile. The sacrifices I make for Geek News Central….

Thanks to Mono+Mono for providing the Sitpack for review.