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.
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.
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.
My new Seattle Sling waterproof camera bag just arrived. I can’t wait to try it out!
Boasting proven dry bag technology, I’m thinking it should be perfect for any adventure near water: sea kayaking, skiff rides, wet landings, hiking in the rainforest, or even a trip to Seattle in the rainy season. Ingenious!
More to come soon, as I head off to Baja’s Sea of Cortez to put it to the test!
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.
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
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
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,Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
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
Discover your ‘visual DNA’, and lots more, with this cool online quiz at Imagini.net.
It’s easy and fast. Simply select the picture that best answers each question, then read Imagini’s version of your personality profile. Fun stuff!
See my quiz results below…
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.
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
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
I don’t know about you, but I’m tough on electronics. And my cell phone, tossed carelessly into purse, backpack, jacket pocket, etc, tends to take the worst of it. But, thankfully I discovered the Ellen-tough protection of the OtterBox Defender Case. The oh-so-gadget-girl-cool case takes all the abuse I give it, and more. Rain, snow? Who cares? Not me.
Better yet, its grippy surface keeps it resting nicely on the center console of my car, handy when I’m talking hands-free but still want to be able to see the display screen. And, by choosing their eye catching yellow and black case, I’m sure not to leave it, or confuse it with another, when I’m in a rush at airport security.
And girls, while my husband isn’t wild about this feature, it’s a huge guy magnet. I cant’ tell you how many guys - on airplanes, in coffeehouses, in frequent flyer lounges, on the street, in the park, etc. - ask me about it.
So, if you’re busy making a list and checking it twice, be sure to check out OtterBox.com, they have a case for nearly any electronic you want covered - PDAs, phones, laptops, cameras - with new models being added all the time.
Okay, Gadget-Girl regulars, you already know I’m a BlackBerry addict. Now travel editor Larry Bleiberg has turned me on to yet another cool new add-on application that’s sure to keep me hooked! Better yet, it’s techy-cool and FREE.
Read on for details…
reQall for BlackBerry gives you a voice-to-text recorder, task/shopping list/idea manager, reminder service and memory aid all in one. Turn your BlackBerry smartphone into a powerful productivity center that helps you remember all the important things in your life. Beta version available now.
- Use voice or text to tell reQall what you want to remember—then get a reminder via email or text message at just the right moment.
- Intuitively organizes your reminders by when they have to be done, who has to do them and what kind of reminder they are (To-Dos, Notes or Shopping List items).
- Integrates with the email, calendar, address book, memo pad and task list in your BlackBerry so you can automatically create To-Dos and Notes from these sources.
- Elegant and simple interface works seamlessly with the BlackBerry trackball and keyboard, making it easy to stay organized.
- Fast, accurate voice-to-text transcription.
- Understands dates and times, as well as keywords like “buy,” “ask” and “note,” so it can automatically organize your items for you.
- Allows you to share reminders with others so you can keep your family or work group on track.
Bound for Paris? Off to Rio? There’s nothing better to get you in the mood for a destination than its music. Before your next great trip, start your journey online at NationalGeographic.com. From a scorching blast of Mali rock-n-roll to the sizzling salsa of Brazil and the Mardi Gras melodies of New Orleans, busy travelers can jazz up their pre-trip preparation by listening to National Geo’s free world music podcasts and videos.Experience the soundtrack of the world – at zero cost.
Won’t leave home without your iPod? Check out the growing library of pre-selected music playlists keyed to some of the world’s hippest destinations from National Geographic Traveler on iTunes for your wanderings. Download individual songs or the entire playlist for only 99 cents per tune.
So, go on, get your groove on, and hit the road blastin the destination’s best tunes. I’ll be the gal bee-boppin’ in the airline seat beside you!