Gadget Girl


Travel-tested recommendations and reviews on the best gadgets for travelers.

Foil Digital Thieves With New Blackout Pocket From SCOTTEVEST

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Foil Digital Thieves With New Blackout Pocket From SCOTTEVEST

I’m a longtime user and fan of SCOTTEVEST tech-enabled clothing as a stylish and convenient way to carry gadgets.

The company recently released a new Blackout Pocket, a standalone pocket made to keep your most sensitive information private using a technology similar to that which law enforcement and the military utilize to preserve electronic evidence. 

Ideal for gadget loving travelers, the pocket is designed to protect your cell phone, credit cards, passport, and mobile devices from the nefarious efforts of identity thieves, RFID (radio-frequency identification) skimmers or NSA surveillance.

Available in three levels of protection, and offered at a discounted introductory price, the Blackout Pocket is lined with proprietary RFID Armor material to protect your digital valuables. 

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Ellen Barone has been creating words and images for travel and tourism since 1998. She co-founded and publishes the group travel blog YourLifeIsATrip.com and is currently at work on her first book "I Could Live Here".
iPhoneography: How to Capture, Edit and Share your Travels with a Smartphone

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iPhoneography: How to Capture, Edit and Share your Travels with a Smartphone

“Hey, how’d you do that?” 

I get asked this question a lot from friends, family and travelers who want to know more about the camera apps and processing tricks I use to capture, edit and share iPhone photographs.

I’m enamored with every aspect of mobile photography - the creative apps, the shoot-and-share convenience, the pocket size ease - and it’s changing the way I shoot, edit and deliver images, both personally and professionally, on a daily basis.

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Ellen Barone has been creating words and images for travel and tourism since 1998. She co-founded and publishes the group travel blog YourLifeIsATrip.com and is currently at work on her first book "I Could Live Here".
Noise? What Noise? Travel Apps to Fall Asleep To

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Noise? What Noise? Travel Apps to Fall Asleep To

Barking dogs, tolling church bells, blaring music, parading bands, exploding fireworks, police whistles, sirens, and crowing roosters are among the many noises that make up the soundtrack of life in Latin America, our home-away-from-home for nearly two years now.

Like many visitors, we have a love/hate relationship with the auditory vibrancy of the Latin American lifestyle. Most of the time, the crazy cacophony charms and amuses us. At 3AM, not so much. 

Not to worry: There’s an app for that. 

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Ellen Barone has been creating words and images for travel and tourism since 1998. She co-founded and publishes the group travel blog YourLifeIsATrip.com and is currently at work on her first book "I Could Live Here".
DIGITAL TRAVELER: Lowepro Photo Hatchback AW Camera Daypack

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DIGITAL TRAVELER: Lowepro Photo Hatchback AW Camera Daypack

WANTED: A versatile daypack to keep camera gear and other daily essentials secure, accessible and protected while I’m out actively exploring the world.

FOUND: Lowepro Photo Hatchback AW.

I’ve been scaling back lately on the amount of stuff I lug around. But whether I’m headed off for a day of adventure at home or an extended trip, there are certain items I carry with me: camera gear, a jacket, water bottle, small notebook, sunglasses and a mobile phone, for example. 

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Ellen Barone has been creating words and images for travel and tourism since 1998. She co-founded and publishes the group travel blog YourLifeIsATrip.com and is currently at work on her first book "I Could Live Here".
TRAVEL TECH SECRET: How to Use VPN to Get Around Annoying Internet Boundaries

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TRAVEL TECH SECRET: How to Use VPN to Get Around Annoying Internet Boundaries

I admit it. I’m feeling clever these days as my husband and I view UK-only BBC Olympics coverage on our laptops in Peru. I also beam with geeky pride each time my yoga instructor here in Cusco asks to use my iPod to stream Pandora’s Krishna Das station during class. And yes, I’ve been known to indulge in a free episode of Modern Family, or a movie, on Hulu during the past year while we’ve been living in Latin America.

Truth told, however, I’m not really all that clever. Any Gadget Girl worth her iPad is already using my secret solution - a Virtual Private Network (VPN) - to get around annoying Internet boundaries when traveling abroad.

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Ellen Barone has been creating words and images for travel and tourism since 1998. She co-founded and publishes the group travel blog YourLifeIsATrip.com and is currently at work on her first book "I Could Live Here".
GETTING BACK TO BASICS with the Leica M9

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GETTING BACK TO BASICS with the Leica M9

Here’s the truth. Anyone can take a beautiful photograph. The advanced technology in today’s cameras, even the most basic point-and-shoot, makes it easier than ever. And with a few artsy apps and a creative eye, even an iPhone can deliver gallery worthy images. Seriously. 

But what if you want to do more than make a pretty picture? What if you want to slow down the experience of preserving a moment, a place? Or distill the creative process of photography down to its essence?  

Enter the Leica M9

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Ellen Barone has been creating words and images for travel and tourism since 1998. She co-founded and publishes the group travel blog YourLifeIsATrip.com and is currently at work on her first book "I Could Live Here".
GEEKS ON THE GO: How To Use An iPod Touch As A Global Smartphone

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GEEKS ON THE GO: How To Use An iPod Touch As A Global Smartphone

Say goodbye to hefty monthly contracts and global roaming fees with a $199 Apple iPod Touch.

When my husband and I made the decision to put our life in New Mexico on hold and set off for an extended romp through Latin America, it wasn’t where we’d live, how we’d get there, or even what we’d take that worried me. The Internet, vacation rentals, hotels, airplanes, and local shops offered easy solutions to those problems.

What did present a challenge, however, was a question on the minds of many Americans traveling abroad: How can I avoid the global roaming fees of my U.S. based mobile phone provider and still stay connected?   

Nearly eighteen months into the adventure, we’ve said goodbye to hefty monthly contracts and global roaming fees, in large part thanks to the simple convenience of a $199 Apple iPod Touch.

Basically an iPhone without a monthly contract, the iPod Touch is proving to be an essential pocket-sized travel tool and budget-friendly communications alternative. 

Here are 3 key ways I use the iPod Touch in lieu of a global smartphone.

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Ellen Barone has been creating words and images for travel and tourism since 1998. She co-founded and publishes the group travel blog YourLifeIsATrip.com and is currently at work on her first book "I Could Live Here".
TRAVEL TECH: A Gadget Girl's Guide To Packing

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TRAVEL TECH: A Gadget Girl's Guide To Packing

As a journalist specializing in travel, I pack and unpack for dozens of trips a year. As a result, I’ve learned a thing or two about packing smarter, packing less, and traveling with travel technology.

Clothes are easy: Two pants. Two shoes. Four shirts. Something dressy. Fleece for cold. Layers for hot. Outerwear for wet. Quick-dry everything. A wrap for the airplane. 

Toiletries, too, are a no-brainer: Travel-sized liquids refilled or still packed from the last trip. Nothing over 3-ounces. Nothing sharp. Done. 

But when it comes to gadgets, things get more complicated. Cords. Cables. Batteries. Back-ups. Hard drives. iPod. Smartphone. Laptop. Memory cards. More memory cards. It’s too easy, and so frustrating, to head off without the essential bits that make the gizmos go. 

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Ellen Barone has been creating words and images for travel and tourism since 1998. She co-founded and publishes the group travel blog YourLifeIsATrip.com and is currently at work on her first book "I Could Live Here".
TRAVEL IPHONEOGRAPHY: Getting Easier By The App

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TRAVEL IPHONEOGRAPHY: Getting Easier By The App

Thanks to an ever-evolving selection of innovative iPhone photo applications, creative mobile photography is only an app away. That’s good news for iPhone packing travelers. 

Once-upon-a-time I thought mobile photography was only good enough for documenting and sharing my life on the run. Until I discovered iPhone photo apps.

Now I’m addicted to the creative spontaneity and visual experimentation that mobile photo apps offer. I love how seamlessly iPhoneography fits into my traveler’s toolkit, providing a convenient, mobile method of creating and sharing experiences and images as I move about the world.

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Ellen Barone has been creating words and images for travel and tourism since 1998. She co-founded and publishes the group travel blog YourLifeIsATrip.com and is currently at work on her first book "I Could Live Here".
 Must Love Travel: The hunt for the perfect camera bag

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Must Love Travel: The hunt for the perfect camera bag

Nearly every traveling photographer I know lusts after the ‘perfect’ camera bag. I am, perhaps, the biggest romantic of them all. No matter how many alternatives fill my closets and clutter my office shelves, the dream of finding that ‘perfect’ multi-purpose bag remains alluring. 

Problem is, I ask a lot of a camera bag, especially for air travel. It needs to provide travel-tough protection, be carry-on sized and not only transport a full arsenal of camera bodies, lenses and digital accessories, but a laptop too. 

Enter the Lowepro Stealth Reporter D650 AW

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Ellen Barone has been creating words and images for travel and tourism since 1998. She co-founded and publishes the group travel blog YourLifeIsATrip.com and is currently at work on her first book "I Could Live Here".
GEEK CHIC: Hide Your MacBook in Plain Sight with BookBook

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GEEK CHIC: Hide Your MacBook in Plain Sight with BookBook

The Genius swarm was unexpected. Who knew that carrying my MacBook Pro into the Apple Store in a BookBook laptop case would inspire such a flurry of questions: “Is that really a lapbook case?” “Where did you get it?” “Who makes it?” “Do they make one for the iPad?” “Can I look inside?” “Wow, cool!” I felt like a rock star. 

I didn’t buy the cleverly disguised laptop case that looks like an antique book to be the chicest geek at the Genius Bar. Rather, I’d bought it to reduce the risk of having my MacBook Pro stolen.

But based on the number of blue-shirted Genius admirers, it looks like innovative Mac accessory designer, Twelve South, has tapped into the collective desire for originality that’s core among true Mac fans. 

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Ellen Barone has been creating words and images for travel and tourism since 1998. She co-founded and publishes the group travel blog YourLifeIsATrip.com and is currently at work on her first book "I Could Live Here".

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Mother's Day Gadget Gift Guide

Great Gifts for the Gadget Loving Mom on Your List

Being a Gadget Girl is about a lot more than buying stuff — but, truth told, we do love our toys. From e-readers and cameras, to global smartphones and techno-friendly clothes, not sure what to get? Don’t fret. I’ve got you covered. Here are some gift ideas guaranteed to please the gadget loving mom on your list.


 

About Ellen Barone: Consumer travel expert Ellen Barone is the founder and publisher of EllenBarone.com and YourLifeIsATrip.com. Learn more here and connect on Twitter at,FacebookGoogle+ and LinkedIn.

 

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Ellen Barone has been creating words and images for travel and tourism since 1998. She co-founded and publishes the group travel blog YourLifeIsATrip.com and is currently at work on her first book "I Could Live Here".

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5 Ways to Share and Store Your Vacation Photos

Picture this: you’re celebrating your 50th birthday at the summit of Kilimanjaro. Or perhaps you’ve awakened early to watch the rising sun paint the Grand Canyon orange and gold. Maybe you’re snorkeling with playful sea lions and quirky penguins on a Galapagos expedition, or exploring the vibrant ethnic neighborhoods and historic parks of New York City.

Some of the most unforgettable travel experiences are best told through photography and today’s pocket-sized digital technology makes it easier than ever to gobble up memory cards with your travel memories. But then what?  

Whether you want to share your vacation photos with a neighbor down the street, your grandmother in Florida, or the friends you met along the way, there’s a photo sharing service to help you do it.

For ideas on how to easily send, share and save your travel adventures, check out my recent article: 5 Fun Ways to Share and Save Your Vacation Photos  

 

About Ellen Barone: Consumer travel expert Ellen Barone is the founder and publisher of EllenBarone.com and YourLifeIsATrip.com. Learn more here and connect on Twitter at,FacebookGoogle+ and LinkedIn.

 

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Ellen Barone has been creating words and images for travel and tourism since 1998. She co-founded and publishes the group travel blog YourLifeIsATrip.com and is currently at work on her first book "I Could Live Here".

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Packing Essential: Skooba Protective Wraps

At home or on the go, Skooba wraps are one of the most versatile, lightweight protective packing solutions I’ve found. Whether I’m protecting an extra camera lens in my daypack on the trail in Costa Rica, toting a bottle of wine in my purse to a friend’s party, or bringing home a ceramic bowl from Morocco in my carry-on luggage, the wraps are perfect for adding extra protection without a lot of bulk. 

Available in three padded square sizes, the Velcro fasteners on all four corners make it easy to wrap around any shape, virtually eliminating the need to buy custom-sized cases for every gadget. Buy once. Use forever. Nice! 

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Ellen Barone has been creating words and images for travel and tourism since 1998. She co-founded and publishes the group travel blog YourLifeIsATrip.com and is currently at work on her first book "I Could Live Here".

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Verizon HTC Incredible: A Fast, Fun iPhone Alternative

I was flying back from Boston recently when I spotted my seatmate tapping and flipping his way around a touchscreen smartphone that at first glance looked like an iPhone - until I spotted the Verizon logo. If you’re a Verizon user, like me, you’re all too aware that Verizon doesn’t have an iPhone (or didn’t at the time of this review). Was this the answer to my prayers? I had to know more.

Verizon HTC Droid IncredibleSo I did what any gadget girl would do, I peered over the poor guy’s shoulder long enough to break his concentration and compel him to ask if there was something he could help me with.

Thankfully, he proved to be as big a geek as I am and couldn’t wait to show me around his newest toy - Verizon’s HTC Droid Incredible. We talked travel tech the rest of the flight home.

I love my BlackBerry, I do. But I was enchanted enough by the Incredible’s spacious screen and iPhone-like behavior to take it for a 30-day test drive.

I found plenty to love about the Incredible, including blazing fast performance, a 3.7-inch touchscreen, eye-pleasing graphics and a super sleek design.

In side-by-side web searches and site uploads, its Google powered Android 2.2 operating system left my BlackBerry at the curb. And surfing the Net felt as easy and fast on the Incredible as it does on the computer. But I wasn’t nearly as comfortable navigating the Droid’s virtual QWERTY keyboard as I am when using the BlackBerry’s real deal.

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Ellen Barone has been creating words and images for travel and tourism since 1998. She co-founded and publishes the group travel blog YourLifeIsATrip.com and is currently at work on her first book "I Could Live Here".

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MUST LOVE ADVENTURE: Olympus Stylus Tough 8010

WANTED: Gadget girl seeks go-anywhere, do-anything travel partner. Must love adventure, water and winter sports, and global exploration. Fragile sissies need not reply.

FOUND: Olympus Stylus Tough 8010 pocket camera.  

Leave the clunky SLR and clumsy waterproof housings at home  – you won’t be needing them once you add this rugged travel essential to your adventure packing list. 

I know I’m a total gadget-geek, but I get a thrill each and every time I dive into a salt water ocean, or plunge headlong into whitewater rapids, with this puppy strapped to my wrist, sans waterproof casing. Even more so, when I rinse it off under a stream of water in the kitchen sink. And who cares how many times I fall snowboarding (it happens a lot!), this freezeproof, crushproof, dropproof beast can handle it. It doesn’t take a gadget girl to appreciate that.

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Ellen Barone has been creating words and images for travel and tourism since 1998. She co-founded and publishes the group travel blog YourLifeIsATrip.com and is currently at work on her first book "I Could Live Here".
Picture Perfect: jill-e Designer Camera Bags

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Picture Perfect: jill-e Designer Camera Bags

Just because you’re a Gadget Girl, doesn’t mean you lack sophistication. Being stylish and techie are not mutually exclusive. If only more manufacturers understood that.

Well, thanks to  jill-e designs, a company both owned and operated by women, I no longer have to show up for a shoot schlepping a bag built for boys.

Fellow photog Christie Parker turned me onto these bags and it was love at first sight. There’s just something not right about strolling down the Avenue des Champs-Élysées or the streets of Manhattan with a clunky, chunky camera bag. Until jill-e, there wasn’t much to do about it.

I’m headed to Madrid next week and you can bet my weatherproof medium chocolate suede camera bag jill-e is going with me.  

While a jill-e may look pretty, it’s built to play rough. And it’s no powder puff as a camera bag either. All the essentials a pro expects are there - padded protection, adjustable Velcro dividers, netted pockets for memory cards, batteries and business cards, and plenty of exterior pockets for convenient access to the tools of the trade - notepad, model releases, cleaning cloth, etc.

Favorite feature: The innovative top zip allows me to access a flash, a second camera body and other equipment (see photo below) quickly and easily. Also, the tethered interior pouch is handy for storing hotel key cards and other small personal items.

Not-so-favorite feature: The nylon detachable shoulder strap is kinda cheesy looking compared to the elegance of the bag. I hope they’ll improve that oversight in the future.

Bottom line: Perfect for stylish gadget girls who value fashion and flair in addition to function.

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Ellen Barone has been creating words and images for travel and tourism since 1998. She co-founded and publishes the group travel blog YourLifeIsATrip.com and is currently at work on her first book "I Could Live Here".

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Stay Connected: eStarling Wireless Digital Photo Frame

Wow. When they say plug-and-play, they mean it. From box to streaming in under 10 minutes.

No swearing. No frantic calls to the neighbor’s dorky teenager. No software to load. No written-in-every-language-but-one-you-can-understand instruction manual.

Even had my hometown weather forecast broadcasting sunny skies by entering my zip code with a quick tap, tap, tap on the screen.

Easy. Fast. Wi-Fi. Fun!

This is my kinda gadget.

I thought the older 8-inch eStarling frame was cool with its wireless connectivity and  dedicated email address. We gave one to my parents a few years back and it’s still a huge hit.

After all, there it sits on their coffee table, when suddenly a picture of my sister and me hiking in the south of France, for example, flashes onto the screen.  E-mailed from my global BlackBerry straight to the frame. Or, a photo of my brother, who lives in Salt Lake City, pops up as he swishes down the slopes of Park City. How cool is THAT? The enjoyment and connection the picture frame provides is amazing. No wonder it was one of the most popular items in my 2009 Holiday Gift Guide for Traveling Photographers.

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Ellen Barone has been creating words and images for travel and tourism since 1998. She co-founded and publishes the group travel blog YourLifeIsATrip.com and is currently at work on her first book "I Could Live Here".

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Flight Plan: Clear Harmony Noise Cancelling Headphones

Okay, I admit it. I thought expensive noise reduction earphones were just another fad for people with more money than sense. That was until an American Airlines business class flight to France with complimentary noise cancelling headphones changed my mind. Muting out the roar of the engine and the guy snoring in the seat across the aisle, the headphones made the nine-and-a-half-hour long flight bearable - almost pleasant.

Biz class upgrades aren’t a staple in my usual econo-class flight plans. But thanks to Santa and a new pair of Able Planet’s Clear Harmony noise cancelling headphones I can now tune out the chaos in style. Better yet, they work great for fading out distractions in my home office, too. I’m wearing them as I type, much to the chagrin of my husband who just realized he’s been talking to himself.

Favorite feature:  Comfort! The padded ear cushions are so much better for long haul listening than earbuds. 

Not-so-favorite feature: The obvious. Despite the fold-flat design, they’re big. Big enough in these days of diminishing carry-on allowances to make me think twice about toting them along. Bummer!

Bottom line: No way, no how am I jetting off for a 5-hour-plus flight without them. Something else can give.

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Ellen Barone has been creating words and images for travel and tourism since 1998. She co-founded and publishes the group travel blog YourLifeIsATrip.com and is currently at work on her first book "I Could Live Here".

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Geeks Rule: Travel trivia from around the globe

Did you know Mt Everest is still growing? And yet Mexico City is sinking… Whether you’re out and proud nerd or a closet geek, Lonely Planet’s got some real travel trivia to keep you nodding and ‘mm-hmm’ing right through the holidays. Not quite a gadget, but I couldn’t resist! Find out something you don’t know
If you’re a fellow gadget girl, or guy, check out their Travel Tech forum. 

 

About Ellen Barone: Consumer travel expert Ellen Barone is the founder and publisher of EllenBarone.com and YourLifeIsATrip.com. Learn more here and connect on Twitter at,FacebookGoogle+ and LinkedIn.

 

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Source: Lonely Planet

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Ellen Barone has been creating words and images for travel and tourism since 1998. She co-founded and publishes the group travel blog YourLifeIsATrip.com and is currently at work on her first book "I Could Live Here".