Category: Car

A Roundup Of The Most Intriguing Travel Tech From CES 2019

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas is over 3.2 million square feet (297,200 sq. meters) of the most current, upcoming, and concept technology, brands and startups alike want to share with the world. There were a lot of travel products at CES 2019 and starting in the first part of this video series, you can see the emphasis on wearables and enhancing experiences on the road.

Check out the video above for the second part of my visit to CES or read on for the most useful inventions that might help you travel smarter and easier in the near future.

Headphones

The audio industry seems to have two takes on headphones pitting portability against quality. Most headphones under $100 don’t have premium audio quality (the kind that’s hard to resist once you’ve heard it) so to keep costs down, companies like ToughTested are innovating with physical designs. The Bluetooth ProComm Flex 2 have a flexible neckband which is meant to withstand regular smashing into small backpack pockets.

toughtested procomm flex 2

On the other end of the audio spectrum, a newcomer to headphones is the audio development company Jabra. They debuted the Jabra Elite 85h at CES combining their audio expertise with artificial intelligence. Without a doubt the Jabra 85h have the best noise-cancelling of any headphone I’ve worn (including the Bose 20i). For air travelers, even without music playing, the 85h’s noise-cancelling will turn a plane in flight into a silent room if you want it to be. Using the AI, the Jabra 85h automatically tune the headphones to allow some sound in when it might be important, for example when there’s a gate announcement or at a crosswalk.

Underwater Drones

The majority of travelers aren’t using flying drones yet but the underwater drone category might quickly surpass them in popularity. One big disadvantage of underwater drones is that radio waves move very poorly in water. Navatics MITO gets around the problem with a 130 foot (40 meter) tether attached to a floating buoy.

navatics mito

Alternatively, the PowerDolphin stays on the surface of the water while the RoboFish has two modes, an on-surface mode controlled through a phone app plus an sonic remote you place into the water to direct this cute drone.

Capturing Your Vacation Virtually

Nobody likes sitting through your vacation photos (says the guy who blogs for a living) but the Vuze XR might change that. Pocket-sized, the Vuze XR captures 180 or 360 degree footage you can live stream to Facebook or YouTube but even better, use to create your own virtual reality experience of a trip. Using the VR myself at CES to see what the Vuze XR was capable of, I was impressed how well it could recreate a trip of say, your day wandering around the streets of Istanbul.

vuze xr

With Wheels

Moving on to the technology that actually moves you, BMW showed me their electric iNext car, with embedded touch sensors in the seats, smart lights that follow what you’re looking at, and yes, it drives itself. (The car in some form is scheduled for release in 2021.)

Gyrolift showed off a Segway-inspired wheelchair that allows travelers with disabilities to move over sand, dirt, city terrains and generally get around much easier, as well as adjust their height easily when needed. (I could see this being useful, among other things, to better read signs often posted at standing eye-level.)

modobag

  • Most Fun Product – The Modobag. Although I’m not completely convinced as to how practical it is, riding this motorized suitcase without a smile is impossible. Also, I’ve got a $300-off coupon code for you CES2019 good through March this year.

Travel Vlogging

Some other products that stood out were the Shure MV88+, the best microphone this size I’ve tested and one that can double as a voice-over as well as on-the-go microphone for a larger camera or smartphone. Speaking of smartphones, Huawei unveiled their Honor View 20, with it’s AI ultra-clarity feature best seen in the video above, that could help you read far away signs.

There are still a lot of other gadgets I haven’t covered year, from airbag vests and air-purifying masks for cyclists, space tourism opportunities, and flying vehicles. One thing is clear though, the trend is for inexpensive electronics to become more creative as premium products refine at the highest levels, with a shrinking market in between.

How To Ensure You’ll Always Find A Parking Spot In America’s Busiest Cities

The only thing worse than bad traffic is having to look for parking in a busy city but some destinations are just close enough that it’s faster to drive than deal with airports or you’ve got an occasion bringing you to downtown. Whatever the reason, searching for parking can be a frustrating, stressful, and time-consuming quest but there is an app that solves all those problems.

One Day Before

The free app SpotHero (available for Android and iOS) let’s you search and reserve a parking space anytime in advance of your arrival, but the earlier, the better. (I would recommend a week if possible.) SpotHero works with thousands of parking garages and lots across the largest cities in the United States letting you reserve a spot with a tap. The search function finds your hotel, venue, etc. then using the map you can scroll around to see prices plus options nearby.

Costs Bundled

All of the additional costs are bundled into SpotHero. Garages and lots pay to be listed in SpotHero to get your business. Certainly there are costs passed on to you but I was able to find parking in Times Square for $30 in a closed garage (not valet) – a bargain for New York City. You also don’t need an account to use SpotHero.

spothero

Once you get to the parking lot or garage, you show the reservation on your phone and that’s it.

Even Better Features

This isn’t a sponsored post and nobody paid me to write about SpotHero; it’s just an app I found very useful with several incredible features for travelers. For instance you can check times, restrictions, user reviews and photos of the parking spaces to see if your car will fit or how well lit a garage is at night.

new york city parking

Perhaps the best feature however is the free cancellation. In most cases you can cancel your reservation up to the last minute if, for example, you happen to find a cheaper or closer spot somewhere else. SpotHero also has options for monthly parking, extending a reservation, and offers $7 off when you refer a friend. (Your friend by the way also gets their first $7 off as well.)

Hopefully SpotHero will add locations outside of the U.S. like Spain to Andorra or even car-friendly Bahrain. Until they do, remember this taxi trick in Serbia and no matter what, keep your feet off the dashboard.

Keep Your Feet Off The Car Dashboard To Avoid Gruesome Airbag Injuries

dashboard airbag

It’s a fairly common sight, particularly on highways to see someone in the passenger seat of a car have their feet up on the dashboard. Few worry about the consequences of being involved in one of the 3,400 car accidents that happen daily, but it’s actually the device designed to keep you safe that can (literally) destroy your legs.

Here’s why you should never put your feet up on the car’s dashboard, if you’re not entirely convinced already.

Airbags Faster Than You

Car airbags are designed to deploy in accidents as slow as 12kph (8mph) into a solid barrier. The average car airbag inflates completely within 1/20th of a second, about twice the speed of an average eye blink. An airbag needs to get in place (and even begin partially deflating) before your head collides with the windshield or dashboard. Airbags are faster than a human blinks, let alone physical reactions.

So it’s impossible to move your legs out of the way in time during an accident.

romania car drone

Achieving these speeds requires a lot of force (roughly 3.33×104 Newtons) – one good reason you should never put your phone or any other object over the airbag ever. When your airbag deploys it can turn an air freshener or your legs into a powerful projectile.

Knees Coming At You

Overestimating how fast you can react to move your legs out of the way is something many passengers do, as is underestimating what an airbag does to your legs. Numbers and Newtons are hard to grasp but the Mythbusters video below does a good job of showing you how bad things can look.

Part of the issue might be the name “air” bag. We tend to associate air with something soft. Bags are those fluffy things that hold our groceries but Audra Tatum’s story might change your mind on both counts.

Adding Injury To Injury

Make no mistake about it – when an airbag deploys if your legs are in the way they’ll be forcibly displaced. Some people have their faces damaged or eyes lost because your knees come hurdling back under the strong force of the airbag. Others, like Tatum, suffer severe compound leg breaks, as you can read below (or click on the link to see a photo which should be warning enough).

“The airbag went off, throwing my foot up and breaking my nose,” Tatum, who wasn’t wearing a seat belt, told CBS. “I was looking at the bottom of my foot facing up at me.” Besides her nose, Tatum broke her ankle, femur and arm, telling CBS she still walks with a limp and can’t stand more than 4 hours at a time.

Another thing to note is airbags don’t always deploy due to a collision, millions are recalled each year due to malfunctions like activating when they’re not supposed to. I won’t bother telling you stories of people who had their legs out the window before an accident. Needless (I hope) now to say, don’t put your feet up on the car dashboard, they’re hardly as safe as planes, and rather let airbags do what they’re good at. For those of you who travel with pets, don’t let them hang out in the front seat or better yet, make sure they’re secured in a proper car harness in the back.

The Best Things To Do In Las Vegas (That Aren’t Gambling Or Drinking)

Las Vegas has been very successful in marketing itself as the world’s debauchery capital but for people who like being in nature, adventure, and local travel experiences, it’s one of the most interesting cities you can visit. Feel free to add the following to your gambling debt, beer, or sober savings as you wish.

These are the best things to do in Las Vegas, whether you like casinos or not.

1. Hoover Dam

hoover dam

Let’s start small with the massive Hoover Dam, a story and engineering feat not to be missed about 30 minutes away from the Las Vegas Strip. I know, it sounds boring, but I couldn’t wrap my head around how impressive the Hoover Dam is nor can I adequately describe it in words. There are helicopter tours for $75 nearby but the best views from land are a bit down the Colorado River from the Mike O’Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge.

2. Red Rock Canyon

red rock canyon visit

About 30 minutes in the other direction from the Hoover Dam, the Red Rock Canyon Conversation Area is the nicest way to see nature from your own hop-on-hop-off car ride in a location that would otherwise find a way to kill you. Red Rock Canyon though is set up with a ring road around to all of the most beautiful sights, so you can hike (or not) and take careful selfies while staying comfortably close to air-conditioning. Entry is $15 per vehicle.

3. Star Wars Secrets Of The Empire VR

star wars the void vr

The video at the top of this post doesn’t really convey how immersive this virtual reality experience is. Helmet, gloves, and a large physical space to move around in and you’ll see your friends as storm troopers as you work to solve an intergalactic puzzle. I was completely shocked that VR technology had gotten this advanced, a nice glimpse into the future. The Void has a number of VR experiences inside the Venetian Casino (Ghostbusters and Wreck It Ralph) well worth the $30 for 15 minutes – trust me on that one. Remember, you need to buy tickets at least the morning in advance, here’s the link to purchase.

4. Viva Las Arepas

viva las arepas

Local food that’s not really local but that brings a common Venezuelan quick meal to Las Vegas. Viva Las Arepas has two locations serving arepas, a sort of sandwich on cornbread with several fillings. There are two locations in Las Vegas, both off the strip. Good food, atmosphere, and inexpensive too.

Bonus: Much closer to the Las Vegas Strip, Bonito Michoacan is large portions of tasty Mexican food at very reasonable prices.

5. Sky Combat Ace

Here’s my full review of Sky Combat Ace, an experience that basically lets you be a fighter pilot for 20 minutes. Better yet, check out the video here.

6. Hit The Extraterrestrial Highway

extraterrestrial highway

This is the ultimate road trip I’ve written about before, particularly if you like remote locations, aliens, or general quirkiness that gets you as close as possible to Area 51.

Keep Going High And Low

Las Vegas may have been a lucky spot for the mob but it’s also in the middle of several different, rather untouched landscapes. The Grand Canyon is a roughly 3 hour drive, Death Valley National Park and its incredible salt flats about 2 hours away, plus plenty of cosplay right around August.

What’s nice about Las Vegas itself is it’s like one of the hundreds of buffets in the city – you can pick and choose what you want to do to your liking. For some people, the blackjack table is a part of the course, but don’t worry if you like to drink lots of it or just use vodka as a bug repellent – so long as you don’t indulge before visiting Sky Combat Ace.

ps. Apparently more than a few people have flown hungover and if you vomit in the plane, it’s a $250 or more fine – plus the poor pilot has to take apart the plane and pick out chucks of your breakfast before it’s can be flown safely again. Don’t be that person.

Pimsleur Is The Best Way To Quickly Learn A Language Before Your Next Trip

conor mcgregor candle

The answer I can give without hesitation to the question, “what’s the best way to learn a new language before a trip,” is use Pimsleur. People ask me a lot about language learning, with two important caveats. The first being they’re traveling soon (short time to learn) and they need to be able to communicate with people (not necessarily translate names of random objects).

After booking flights, hotels, planning what to pack, language learning is usually a last that-would-be-nice-touch most never get around to. Pimsleur is the fastest way to learn another language at a conversational level if you’ve got 30 minutes a day and a few weeks to practice.

Quickly Conversational

The majority of language courses are designed to teach you a language with the aim to become fluent – an undertaking that often takes years. You’ll learn a lot of words that won’t be immediately useful which is why most travelers bounce around language tutorials and courses so broadly, you end up with nothing once you arrive at your destination. (English it will have to be then!)

pimsleurPimsleur Spanish Conversational Course – Level 1 Lessons 1-16

buy from amazon

The Pimsleur Language Program works differently. Basically, the 30 minute audio-only courses piece together seemingly random sounds with oddly specific visualizations over 10-20 lessons. At the end you’ll be surprisingly able to hold a conversation in that language.

How Pimsleur Works

Pimsleur is incredibly efficient. For example, you listen to one lesson on your commute. Pimsleur notes two important things: you’ll need to repeat what it tells you to repeat out loud and not do more than one lesson a day. A typical lesson is you saying some random sounds, then imaging e.g. a red bird on top of a house. Pimsleur is designed like Pulp Fiction, it’s all out of order at first, but as you go on the lessons start connecting.

gmc jeep interior

The main drawback of Pimsleur is it won’t help you read or write in another language. Pimsleur is audio only, designed to get you talking with people at soon as possible. Pimsleur gives you the mechanics of a given language making you usefully conversational – and if you want to expand beyond that – a solid structure upon which you can add vocabulary and more advanced grammar.

Target For Travelers

Pimsleur has been used by aid and relief organizations to linguistically prepare their staff and volunteers in a short amount of time. (The company donated their Haitian Creole courses after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, for instance). The United States military has also distributed Pimsleur for troops in Afghanistan.

The efficiency of Pimsleur is what makes it so beneficial for travelers interested in learning usable parts of a language in a short time. I’ve found 2-6 weeks and 30 minutes a day (4-5 days a week) is enough to be able to hold a respectable conversation in a foreign language. All you have to do is listen to the audio file (or CD) and repeat as it instructs.

Somehow Pimsleur hacks your memory to install a new language. I wasn’t paid to write this (I legally have to disclose paid reviews) but I can’t say enough good things about Pimsleur. The lessons you learn are also extremely durable – I recall lessons from nearly 10 years ago. You’ll just have to give yourself the time to finish the lessons. Since Pimsleur courses aren’t structured in a conventional way, the more dots it will connect the longer you continue. And it’s not a long or expensive journey. The first entire lesson of Turkish is a total of 8 hours, costing just $40, for example.

Obviously, the more time you have the more of a language you can learn, using these other tools, adding some colorful curses to your vocabulary as well.

The Cheapest GoPro Knockoff Might Not Be As Good But Could Be Enough For Most People

There are lots of popular GoPro action camera knockoffs on sale, most of which are less than $100, but the LeadEdge LE5000 is currently the cheapest with 4K resolution: $39 for a complete kit. Is that too good to be true? Well, it depends on what kind of footage quality you’re expecting from an action camera that’s a tenth the price of the industry leader.

Here’s my full review of the LeadEdge LE5000 action camera and who it might be best suited for.

The Battleground

Let’s start by comparing the LeadEdge LE5000 4K camera to the GoPro line, from the HERO4 ($239) on up since they’re 4K (3840 x 2160) at 30fps as well. For those of you who looking at the LeadEdge I’m guessing 4K is a big reason why, but in case you aren’t quite sure what this higher resolution is, PCMag has a good primer.

Resolution is just one part of how good the video you get looks. The sensor in the camera as well as the lens, amount of light coming through the lens, all play an important factor in video quality. Given that action cameras are designed to be physically small, with very wide-angle lenses (the LeadEdge is 170 degrees), the size of the lenses are heavily restricted.

That means the quality of video you get from any action camera isn’t going to be great and any point and shoot like this bargain Lumix will likely give you crisper footage with better color range in a wider variety of lighting conditions.

Cutting Corners

Given these constraints, the LE5000 has to cut some corners to come $250+ cheaper than a comparable GoPro. Both the lens and the sensor are lacking. The drawbacks of the lens being somewhat grainy footage, that’s especially poor indoors unless you’re working with a lot of light.

You can see examples of LeadEdge 4K footage in my video review above.

leadedge 4k action camera

The electronics in the LeadEdge also seem just barely capable of keeping up with 4K footage, writing to the microSD card sufficiently when there’s little camera motion. On faster action however, the footage is choppy. Slow motion? Forget about using it, the LeadEdge is terrible at 720p 120fps.

Advantages Of The LeadEdge

Clearly you’re not going to get GoPro-level footage with a camera that’s so much cheaper. But the LeadEdge does come with a full kit – case, underwater housing, all of this stuff you can see in my unboxing video.

leadedge le5000 4kLeadEdge Action Camera 4K Ultra HD

buy from amazon

On a tripod, camera dashboard, slow skiing, or as an inexpensive beach camera though the LeadEdge can take some cool shots you couldn’t with a larger mirrorless. The LeadEdge is good enough, but it’s not great. For most users though, an action camera is one you’ll use only a few times a year. Plus travelers will like the reduced theft anxiety of the LeadEdge since it’s much easier to swallow a $39 loss if you get robbed.

Frequent snorkelers, divers, fast-car-snowboarding-all-winter-serious-about-action-vloggers should probably take a close look at a GoPro HERO4 or HERO5. GoPro has also had a lot of financial difficulty, forcing them to lower the prices on their products. Once the HERO4 hits $150 or lower, it will make the choice between a LeadEdge much more difficult. For now, if you only hit the beach once or twice a year, $200 or more dollars on an action camera might not be the best investment.

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About Anil Polat

foxnomad aboutI'm the blogger and computer security engineer who writes foXnoMad while on a journey to visit every country in the world. I'll show you the tips, tricks, and tech you can use to travel smarter. Read More


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