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Gadgets

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".
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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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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Win a Lingo 16-Language Translator

For the next two weeks, I’ll be participating in the first Travel Blogger’s Caravan. I’d like to invite you to follow 15 top travel bloggers (including yours truly!) for a chance to win a motley array of prizes, perfect for celebrating the holiday season.

If you love exploring new destinations and revisiting old favorites, you won’t want to miss the Travel Bloggers’ Caravan & Giveaway! You just may discover a few new favorite travel blogs to bookmark. I know I have!

Win a Lingo 16-Language Translator

Help us kick off the Caravan right now! Follow @luxcruisebible on Twitter and then tweet about the Travel Bloggers’ Caravan between December 1 and 15. Include a link to this blog post and the #caravan hashtag and you’ll be entered to win the Lingo 16-Language Translator, courtesy of Magellan’s Travel Supplies.

Entrants must have a U.S. mailing address. Entries must be received between December 1–15, 2009. One winner will be randomly chosen from eligible entries on December 21, 2009. Winner will be notified via Twitter DM (direct message).

Just log onto Twitter and tweet something like this:

Check out the Travel Bloggers’ Caravan. 15 travel bloggers and tons of cool prizes to win. http://bit.ly/8TOkPC #caravan

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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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10 Great Gifts For Traveling Shutterbugs

A Gadget Girl’s list is never short, but gift-giving for your favorite traveling shutterbug just got easier.

Many of these gift recommendations are items I already use and am crazy about, a few are from my own wish list (Santa are you listening?) and the rest, well, I never was good at restraint, are already in the mail.

 

 

 

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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Amazon Kindle: Now With U.S. & International Wireless

As if I needed yet another reason to want a Kindle…

Santa, are you listening?

 

If, like me, you’re still on the fence about buying a Kindle, Amazon has just release some tempting news. First, their bestselling Kindle is now $259, down from $299. Second, they’ve introduced a new addition to the Kindle family: Kindle with U.S. and International Wireless. Hooray for travelers!

Now traveling bookworms can download books, newspapers, and magazines wirelessly while at home or abroad in over 100 countries. Whether you’re in New York, Paris, São Paulo, Mumbai, Beijing, Tokyo, or Sydney, you can think of a book and be reading it in less than 60 seconds. That’s sooo cool!

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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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BenQ Joybee GP1 Mini Projector

A carry-on-ready projector with enough resolution for impromptu movie nights, traveling business presentations and vacation photo slideshows? Yep!


I’ve been on the hunt for a ultra-portable projector that wouldn’t break the bank, and found it in the new $499 BenQ Joybee GP1 Mini Projector.

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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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SteriPEN JourneyLCD: Purified Water Anytime, Anywhere


Gadget Girl Goes
Green

A while back I was fortunate enough to be asked to sign on as the new Green Gear girl at GreenSpot.travel, a wonderful online portal for environmentally responsible travelers. 

This month’s featured product is a nifty new eco-friendly gadget - the SteriPEN JourneyLCD portable water purifier. 

It’s fast (16oz. in 48-secs), lightweight (5 oz), easy (just one button) and effective (proven to destroy viruses, bacteria and protozoa). Oh, and did I mention it runs on rechargeable batteries, purifying 1 liter of water for less than $0.02 USD? Take THAT you 3-Euro bottle of San Pellegrino! And, even better, because the pen uses light, instead of chemicals, there’s no chemical aftertaste like tablets or drops.

I’m hooked. Whether I’m day hiking in the mountains of New Mexico, sightseeing in Marrakech or shopping in Paris, I’ll have the SteriPEN in my bag.

Available at www.steripen.com or at The Travel Store at EllenBarone.com powered by Amazon. 

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About Ellen Barone: Consumer travel expert Ellen Barone is the founder and publisher of TravelUpdatesbyEllenBarone.com and YourLifeIsATrip.com. She’s currently at work on her first book - I COULD LIVE HERE. Click here to learn more or stay connected 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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Cy-Fi Wireless Bike Speaker

Which comes first the bicycle or the bike speaker?

I used to be a huge fan of cycling. Now, after nearly 2 bikeless years, a cool new gadget put me back in the bicycle seat again.

The Cy-Fi wireless sports speaker was created for cyclists who love to listen to music when they hit the road, but know that riding with headphones or earbuds is an accident (or ticket, in some states) waiting to happen.

Listen in (or read on) as I discuss the pros and cons of this innovative sports speaker.

The music capabilities alone appealed. But, the Cy-Fi also synchs to any Bluetooth enabled phone, PDA, MP3 player or laptop, turning the sporty little speaker into a wireless 4-oz traveling sound system. THAT, I love.

Attahcing the Cy-Fi to the bike handlebar using the provided mounting bracket is a no-brainer; no tools required. And, the controls are just as easy.

I love tooling around town and the bike trails spinning to the beat of my favorite playlists. The sound is great and if you’re trolling for a date, the Cy-Fi attracts as much attention as a chocolate lab puppy. Especially if you’re using the Cy-Fi’s speakerphone feature. Once people figure out your not a lunatic riding around talking to yourself, they want details. How’s it work. Where do you get one? People stopped me on the street wanting to learn more. I have a lot of fun with 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".

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iFrogz EarPollution Headphones

Tune-Out to Tune-In With iFrogz Headsets

I never imagined I’d be sporting a whole lotta bling in my home office. But, hey, these groovy headphones offer serious sound at a reasonable price. Listen to my newest podcast and learn how I’ve used the iFrogz DJ-style headphones to create my own little desktop sound studio. And, you can too.

 

 

Available at iFrogz.com and The Travel Store at EllenBarone.com.

 

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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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Ready, Set, Adventure: Olympus Stylus 1050SW

I’ve taken this little dynamo skiing in Utah, snorkeling in Baja and mountain biking in New Mexico. I even dropped it onto my ceramic tile floor  - and it’s still shooting like the little pro that it is. Shockproof, waterproof (to 10-feet underwater), freeze-proof (to -14°F) and basically life-proof, if I can take it, so, it appears, can the palm-sized Olympus Stylus 1050SW.

The folks at Olympus seem to have thought of everything any adventurous shutterbug could ask for – rain or shine, underwater, on the slopes or on the run. Boasting 10.1 megapixel high-quality photography, image stabilized video, scene specific shooting modes, quick-access buttons for flash and exposure control, this svelte little number screams Yes You Can!

Favorite Feature: Topping my list is it’s pocket-sized convenience assuring that I’m never without a camera. Better yet, at 10.1 megapixels, if I do happen to snap the shot-of-the-century, it’s publication-quality. Did I mention it shoots YouTube ready video, too? Very fun.

Not-so-favorite Feature: No viewfinder means that I have to compose my shot in the LCD screen. But every shutterbug under the age of 30 that I voice this complaint to tells me to “get over it!” Okay, okay, I get it, viewfinders are sooo middle-age, but I still don’t like it.

Bottom-line: I wouldn’t even think of adventuring without it.

$299.00 suggested retail price: www.olympus.com

Also available at The Travel Store at EllenBarone.com powered by Amazon.

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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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Swiss Army Goes High Tech

Swiss Army Multitool with USB Drive

The techie in your brood will love this new twist on the classic Swiss Army knife; the Swiss Army Multitool with USB Drive. With the addition of a detachable USB drive and LED mini-light no self-respecting digital traveler will want to leave home without one. Use it to transfer and share your vacation snaps, illustrate your Power Point presentation with its red LED light ray, screw a battery compartment shut, file your nails or snip the tag off that new dress, female or male, this is the ulitmate geek gadget. $69.95; National Geographic.

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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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I Dig My Sigg

Got a thirst for saving the planet? You’ll dig a Sigg. Clean, sleek and stylish, the Swiss made aluminum bottles are my favorite alternative to plastic. I take one everywhere – in the car, on the trail, to Bermuda. Tough, lightweight and BPA-free, trust me on this one, once you go Sigg you’ll never go back. 

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Learn more at Sigg.com and available for purchase at The Travel Store at EllenBarone.com powered by Amazon.  

 

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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Designer Sleeves: Fun and Functional

Let your style roar…

 

Set off for college, the office, or the road with this season’s hippest accessory and protect your mobile tech from taking a hit in style. All about style and function, this fashionable line offers all the features any on-the-go Gadget Girl craves: external pockets to carry the extras; non-slip carry straps; a slim, snug, durable design; and graphics that roar with personality. From $34.95; www.designersleeves.com

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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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Printer In A Pocket

Go ahead, trade in those goofy lighted slippers from Aunt Sally for the gizmo you really wanted, PlanOn’s new mobile Printstik. I won’t tell. Promise. After all, what self-respecting gadget geek wouldn’t want to add a Printstik to their portable arsenal? It’s Bluetooth enabled, lightweight, fits in your pocket and syncs with your PC laptop, PDA, and mobile phone, and prints “on the spot” wirelessly. From $199.00; www.planon.com

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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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Brenthaven Prolite II Laptop Case

 

Don’t let its plain-Jane looks fool you. My quest for the perfect computer case ended when a fellow road warrior turned me onto this winner. The glazed look in my friends eyes as I rhapsodized about the distinguishing qualities of the bag pegged me as the hopeless gadget geek I am. I can’t help myself. I’m prone to extolling the bag’s virtues – superior padded protection, rugged ballistic nylon construction, convenient compartments for files and data media storage, front loading access to AC adaptor cables and cords, a multi-pocketed easy-access organizer panel for cell phone, iPod, GPS unit and other accessories, felt-lined quick-access pocket for sunglasses or tickets, and wheelie strap for attaching to wheeled luggage – with the zeal of a religious convert. Oh, and did I mention that it’s ‘carbon balanced’? All purchases on Brenthaven.com will be offset with carbon credits. Hey, quit rolling your eyes! $99.95; www.brenthaven.com

 

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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Joby Gorillapod

 

Lugging a bulky, rigid tripod has never been a practical alternative for the type of on-the-go shooting that traveling photographers like me encounter. Thanks to the cleverly designed pocket-sized Joby Gorillapod, I’ll never have to choose between sharp shots or carrying a tripod again. The cleverly designed pocket-sized gorillapod - a bendable tripod that secures to any surface, has legs that bend and rotate 360 degrees, and rubber feet for extra gripping power – is all I pack these days. Slip it into a pocket, purse or day pack and capture those artsy low-light shots of Paris at night, dimly lit tango clubs in Buenos Aires or the final glory of a tropical sunset and impress em’ at home with your postcard-perfect vacation snaps. Available in 4 sizes; www.joby.com

 

 

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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Down to the wire without a gift idea on your radar? Check This Out...

Here’s a great last-minute holiday gift for traveling shutterbugs.


Hold on Gadget Girls, this is a fun one! eStarling (www.eStarling.com ) has just released their newest WiFi digital picture frame, the eStarling ImpactV, and, get this, the new model supports video clips. Now you can send photos and videos of your experiences, from anywhere in the world, to a photo frame sitting in a home or office anywhere else in the world. I love it!

Every ImpactV has a unique email address and can be connected to a home of office WiFi network to receive photos and video clips wirelessly.

Here’s how it works. Let’s say you are traveling to someplace exotic and fun for the holidays, but away from your family at home. You can take a photo or video with your mobile phone or digital camera and then send that video to your ImpactV frame back at the house. (With an iPhone camera the sending is automatic. With other camera-enabled phones that have emails, you can take the picture or then email it using the phones email camera. If you are using a digitial video camera or camera, you might make a quick stop at an Internet cafe to email the photos directly to your eStarling ImpactV frame at the house.) Cool, eh? I told you.

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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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Pure Fun: Ear Buds by OTTO

Pure fun, that’s what these pretty-in-pink ear buds from OTTO are. Your boss might think otherwise, but phooey on her. Pop these noise-cancelling, music-rocking buds into your ears and it’s goodbye cubicle, hello nirvana. Perfect for cranking iTunes from your laptop, bebopping to Mama Mia enroute to Greece, or simply tuning out CNN at the gym. $69.95; www.hearotto.com

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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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Have Hard Drive Will Travel

You won’t have to click your ruby slippers three times to add this stylish Iomega eGo hard drive to your travel plans. Offering 500GB of portable storage the pretty little workhorse features super durable DropGuard® protection to handle the rigors of the road. You’ll love that it goes where you go, storing your vacation videos, photos and every important document you need while you’re away. Better yet, it’s USB (or firewire) powered, which means one less power cord to carry. Wahoo! From $80.74; 160 GB; http://store.iomega.com

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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".