January marks the time when hundreds of thousands of people head to Las Vegas, but these visitors aren't looking for a few rounds of poker or a wild night — they’re there for the Consumer Electronics Show. CES brings both journalists and professionals to Nevada for a preview of the emerging technology trends consumers will soon get their hands on.
It’s kind of like a visit to trip to Disney World’s "House of the Future," only with a lot more Wi-Fi-capable appliances and insane keynotes from tech developers. Now, the average traveller has little use for 4K OLED television sets, Android-powered refrigerators and internet-ready washing machines, but that doesn't mean the week-long conference was a total bust for those looking to upgrade their gear. Some of the gadget travellers could get excited about didn't come from big-name companies like Samsung or Qualcomm, but companies producing more practical products like a smartwatch, health-monitoring band and a luggage tracker.
The blend of technology and travel isn't limited to the consumer either. Airlines, hotels and travel websites are also pushing out their own apps as a means of helpful tips and features masquerading as a subtle form of advertising. Delta Airlines, for example, offers iOS users a chance to fly in a plane with a pseudo glass-floor. Using a combination of satellite imagery, maps, social media updates, photos, the aircraft's position and Delta's Wi-Fi enabled planes, passengers can take a look the ground beneath them as they cruise 30,000 feet in the sky, reports the Guardian. The app's only compatible with Apple's iPad — a product that didn't get much showtime at this year's CES. But here's a few travel gadgets that did.
7 Travel Gadgets From CES 2013 To Get Excited About. Slideshow text follows for mobile readers.
The Pebble Watch
Keeping a sense of time is important wherever you are in the world. But why just keep track of the time when you can keep track of your text messages, control your music and run other applications? That's the promise of the Pebble Watch, a watch that pairs with its owner's smartphone to relay text messages to the watch's e-ink screen (think Kindle but smaller) and run applications without having to take out the phone — handy at times where travellers are weary of losing their phones while abroad or falling victim to pickpockets.
Cost: TBD. Since the Pebble Watch was funded through crowd-sourcing, those who donated to the project are the very first to get a watch. Everyone else will have to get in line as there's 85,000 donors, with about 15,000 watches made each week, according to the Verge.
Sony Xperia Z
Speaking of smartphones, Sony's Xperia Z aims to occupy the pockets of travellers with its 5-inch 1080p display. The phone claims to be waterproof and can last submerged in up to one metre of water for 30 minutes, though we don't recommend taking phone calls while swimming in the hotel pool. Photos and videos are a safer bet, though, with the phone's capability of shooting HDR footage — taking video in three different settings and combining them for a clip that's greater than the sum of its parts.
Cost: TBD: Sony has yet to announce carriers in North America and there's a chance it may not even come to Canada, reports Mobile Syrup. Those determined to get a hold of it can always buy one overseas or online and pay to unlock it in Canada, but be prepare to shell out a fair bit of money. Estimates out of the U.K. have the phone pegged at £529.99, roughly $840 CDN, reports Android Central.com
Kensington Contour Overnight Backpack
Those who prefer backpacks to laptop bags often do so because backpacks can hold a lot more stuff. However, when it comes to getting that backpack through security, it's often a pain to dig through your bag just to prove to guards that your laptop isn't a bomb with a 15-inch screen. Kensington's Contour Overnight Backpack finds the middle ground by giving users the carrying capacity of a backpack and the ability to zip through security, thanks to the bag's ability to split in half and lie flat on an X-ray. Price: $89.99 USD
D-Link SharePoint Go II Mobile Router
For business travellers, staying connected to the internet means staying alive. There are plenty of options like tethering, using mobile hot spots or the good old-fashioned hunt for Wi-Fi. But if you're looking for a jack-of-all-trades option, then travellers may want to look into D-Link SharePoint Go II Mobile Router. As PC World puts it, the router offers "2.4GHz 802.11n connections to broadband from either an Ethernet cable connection, Wi-Fi hotspot or a 3G/4G USB modem." In short, travellers looking for speedy internet connectivity have choice. Also handy is the router's lithium-ion battery, which can be used to charge other devices when an outlet is nowhere to be found. Cost: $120 USD.
Trak Dot Luggage
On the outside, the Trak Dot luggage looks more like a plastic paperweight than an electronic luggage tracking system. But inside its orange and black shell lies a system that connects to your smartphone. Users leave the tracking device in their bag or suitcase and the system sends emails or text notifications to let users when their luggage has arrived, or in a worse-case scenario, know where it is when it hasn't. Purchasing the system will set users back $49.95, but there's also a one-time activation fee of $8.99 and an annual service fee of $12.99, coming to roughly about $70 for one year of service — which is probably less than the price travellers will pay when dealing with the agony of lost luggage.
Innergie Charge & Sync 3-in-1 USB Cable
Much of the world was outraged when Apple announced that their standard, 30-pin connector cables were being phased out for their smaller Lightning Port connector. Still, owners of iPads and iPhones can still find satisfaction in knowing developers are making accessories suited for older Apple products. Case in point: the Innergie Charge & Sync 3-in-1 USB Cable. Like the name suggests, it's three smaller cables in one body: a mini-USB port, a micro-USB and Apple's legacy 30-pin connector. The three-in-one design cuts down on the number of cords you'll need to pack and works with many cameras, MP3 players, tablets and eBook readers. Cost: $19.99 at myinnergie.com.
If you're on vacation, then you should be able to enjoy yourself when it comes to food and relaxing instead of exercising. However, for those dedicated to counting calories and keeping track of each step on a sandy beach, there's the FitBit Flex. It's the latest iteration of a digital health monitor from FitBit that users can wear. The band monitors steps taken, the distance travelled in a day, calories burned and even your sleep quality, according to FitBIt CEO James Park in an interview with Tech Crunch. Users can track their daily progress by visiting the FitBit website to see if that last pina colada was one too many or if that night out at that bar really did have an impact on your beauty sleep. Cost: $99.