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Tech Archives - foXnoMad

Category: Tech

The Best Travel Tech From CES 2020

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas is a sprawling showcase of bleeding-edge technology, concepts, and cool stuff being shown off for the sake of creating headlines. Through all of it though are a few products to look forward in 2020 plus some tech trends we might be seeing not long after.

This is some of the best travel tech I came across at CES 2020.

Sony’s Vision-S Electric Car

Put this one under things that will never be made into production but we really wish would be. Sony shocked CES this year by showing off a slick electric car, with high resolutions screens inside and high definition cameras (instead of mirrors) outside. Not unexpected from a company known for making quality displays and lenses, but a car like Sony’s Vision-S could give Tesla some actual competition… only if more than one were ever made.

sony vision-s

Delta’s Parallel Reality Screen

Imagine being able to have customized airport screens that give you specific information like your gate all in a language of your preference. Delta’s Parallel Reality let’s 100 people look at the same screen but see different things. Partnering with the startup Misapplied Sciences, Delta will debut Parallel Reality in Detroit’s airport this summer but you can watch a preview in the video below.

Folding Screen Laptops

Dell showed off a prototype folding display laptop which in a few generations could give you a viable laptop-tablet combo with the benefits of both. Having a screen on the bottom half of a laptop gives you more usable space – perfect for tray table typing – but the concept Dell debuted at CES is still too fragile and clunky for practical use for now.

dell folding screen laptop

Jabra’s MySound

Jabra makes a solid pair of noise-cancelling headphones (original review here) but it’s their new software that caught my ear at CES this year. They’ve got a hearing aid division at Jabra so they’re brought in their expertise there to help develop MySound, an app that can tailor music to your specific ears. We all hear different sound frequencies differently, based on genetics, age, and gender. At setup, MySound gives you a hearing test to determine your unique sensitivities to adjust music accordingly. The improvement I heard was so dramatic I didn’t want to listen to music any other way. MySound can improve any pair of headphones using software; it will be released around March this year.

Some Other Cars And Cameras

BMW was back with their Urban Suite concept I tried in virtual reality (VR) at CES last year; except now the driver-less car is a physical vehicle. A street legal one at that, the BMW i3 Urban Suite is car that embraces self-driving technology by letting you sleep, read a book, or simply chat with a friend as the car navigates traffic for you. Several of these all-electric i3 were driving around giving people rides at CES – imagine how much more you’d get done on a commute if you weren’t the one driving.

A few other notable gear updates:

  • GoPro’s Media Mod – The complete vlogging setup was finally on display and will begin shipping around March.
  • Everything Was In 8K – But it’s still too expensive for prime time.
  • Ping Pong AI Robot – I got to play against a machine that was reading my emotions to help me become a better player. It even let me win a few times to put me in a better mood, how nice!

CES this year showed a clear trend in the personalization of tech through smart feedback systems to customize our interaction with various electronics. Cars that become our living room, music made for our ears, not to mention airport screens only we can see. For the past decade hardware and software have been on different courses but improvements to both mean a unique convergence is beginning, hopefully resulting in more time for us humans to enjoy the ride without having to drive.

Anker’s Soundbuds Curve Are Budget Wireless Earbuds For Runners Who Travel

No matter how good a pair of sports earbuds are, if they don’t actually stay in your ears it doesn’t really matter. Anker’s Soundbuds Curve are a pair of budget exercise earbuds that aren’t great in any one category but manage to be solid across the board. When added all up these nearly $25 Soundbuds Curve are a good choice for travelers who run.

You can watch my full review of the Anker Soundbuds Curve in the video above or read on.

The Hook

There are a few main ways earbud manufacturers design earbuds to stay put. Some, like the RHA MA390 use a thick neck cord for weighted balance while others like the NuForce BE Sport3 leverage wingtips. Anker has opted a blended solution: smaller wingtips to maintain stability just above your ear canal and a larger hook over the ear.

anker soundbuds curve review

The result is a clunky set of headphones that are surprisingly light, relatively comfortable, and certainly stable. Soundbuds Curve won’t fall out, even on longer jogs, sprints, or running up stairs. Having used the Soundbuds Curve on near marathon length runs they only needed a few minor readjustments (usually when I began sweating) along the way.

Sounds… Average

Anker has done a good job of making the Soundbuds Curve seem more premium than a $26 price tag would imply. They come with a case, a variety of wingtips to fit in different ears, and Soundbuds Curve have a sleek matte finish. The microphone plus 18 hour battery life are also good touches Anker has made – these are the main features most people look for in sports earbuds.

Soundbuds Curve have decent sound quality too – not terrible or great. Simply average with an okay amount of bass, something most earbuds lack anyway.

When you’re working out though or especially running outdoors, sound quality or isolation isn’t important to all but audiophiles. Being cheap enough also not to be a devastating loss if they’re stolen or lost not to mention IPX7 waterproof, Anker is showing what’s possible for budget headphones. A few tweaks to the physical design and the audio can only get better with each new version, the overall average Soundbuds Curve are a good choice for running travelers.

7 Great Travel Gifts Under $25

Travelers can be difficult to shop for since they usually have specific, pricier, items in mind they want for themselves. Getting a gift for someone who knows exactly what they want can be tricky since you might not know if that preference has changed, they bought the thing already, or maybe it’s over your budget.

There are however a lot of very practical, clever items you can get a wide range of traveler from frequent to business, all under $25.

1. Multi-Charging Cable ($14.99)

CHAFON multi-USB charging cable

Anyone who has seen one next to my laptop mentions what a good idea these CHAFON multi-USB charging cables are. All you do is plug in the USB-3 port into a laptop, portable charger, or wall outlet to provide power to multiple devices over USB micro, mini, A, C, or Apple’s lightning. Having one of these multi-charging cables means carrying less cables plus charge multiple electronics at once. And if you want to charge using the USB-C port, this converter will do the trick.

2. Herschel Travel Pouches 3-Pack ($24.99)

herschel travel pouches

Slim and coming in 3 color options, these highly durable poly ripstop travel pouches are perfect for cable and other loose item backpack organization. Not only is the material strong but it slides in and out of backpack pockets with ease for someone on the go. Lightweight as well, these Herschel travel pouches come in a 3-pack of sizes one small, medium, and large.

3. PortaPow Data Blocker ($12.49)

portapow

Not the most elegant name (PortaPow) but many people gladly plug their devices into plane seats and USB hubs at airports without knowing the dangers of being hacked. What these little PortaPow do is block the data line of USB plugs, so they can transfer electricity and nothing else.

4. Portable Humidifier ($15.99)

Hotel rooms often blow very dry air from the vents whether set to cold or heat. For someone with sensitive sinuses, this MZTDYTL portable humidifier might help them suffer less. It’s also USB-powered, just smaller than a soda can, plus lights up elegantly in multiple colors.

5. Glorious Large Gaming Mouse Mat ($11.99)

glorious gaming mouse mat pad

These 2-millimeter thin mouse pads have a rubber anti-slip base and a very smooth cloth surface allowing for very precise and comfortable mouse movements. Not just for gamers, another benefit is the Glorious Large Mouse Mat is machine washable with anti-fray stitching for high durability. Several sizes to choose from, all under $25.

6. SurviMate Filtered Water Bottle ($21.29)

survimate

One of the best filtered water bottle for travelers, the SurviMate has replaceable filters and can help anyone use less plastic. Using the FaucetSafe app (on iOS or Android) can show you where the SurviMate might be most needed, which makes a good addition to the water bottle.

7. Mossio Hanging Toiletry Bag ($10.99)

mossio hanging toiletry kit

Made of waterproof and durable 300D Oxford tent fabric, the Mossio is a toiletry bag that looks more expensive than it is. Aside from being practical, it’s also large enough for shampoo or other bottles that aren’t necessarily travel size.

Barely Over $25 Honorable Mentions

Although these other products are just over $25, you’ll often find them on sale through my Deals page on the tales sister-site. Anker’s PowerCore 13000 is a miniature but high capacity portable battery, the Soundbuds Curve are sports headphones that stay in your ears, and the Peak Design camera wrist and neck straps are the smartest ways to carry most cameras.

Did I miss anything? Let me know what you would add to the list in the comments below!

Should You Upgrade From The GoPro HERO7 Black To The 8?

The GoPro HERO8 Black is the latest, most advanced action camera you can currently buy – but if you already have the HERO7, you might be wondering whether an upgrade is worth the effort. For those of you shopping for an action camera but have anything older than the HERO7 (or this $40 knockoff) an upgrade to the HERO8 would be a noticeable improvement.

This post however is not for you – it’s for HERO7 owners worried they’re stuck with a dinosaur of a camera compared to the 8.

Three Main Differences

Compared to the HERO7, the 8 brings with it 3 significant changes most relevant to whether or not you should upgrade. The first of those changes is the hardware. The HERO8 is a slightly larger camera, with a different lens size than the 7. These differences in the physical hardware of the HERO8 mean most of the accessories you already have for the 7 won’t transfer over.

You’ll have to not only pay for the cost of an upgrade (the 8 is on sale for $399 while the 7 still sold new is $329) but also invest in a new GoPro accessory ecosystem. For vloggers this is mixed news since any external microphone setup you have now won’t work on the 8 – but come December GoPro will introduce external components to turn a HERO8 into a more elegant vlog solution.

Unfortunately at the moment those options – mainly an external microphone, light, and flip view screen, aren’t on sale yet. Not knowing how well they’ll perform (compared to a Rode VideoMicro setup in the video below) I’d suggest waiting to jump into the HERO8.

Slick Forecast

Another small but significant design modification is GoPro integrating mounting clips directly into the frame of the camera. Having a folding clip system in the GoPro eliminates the need for an external mount, an elegant and long needed modification. Another great improvement on the HERO7 but not exactly worth a complete re-haul of your action camera setup.

gopro hero 7 black

The form factor is new and the accompanying accessories to fit it aren’t out yet (not to mention, expensive) meaning a HERO8 upgrade is probably premature. Remember these are essentially all first generation products – a phase where electronics tend to evolve rapidly.

Hypersmooth For Action

Unless you really want to be an early adopter a move from the HERO7 to the 8 isn’t worth the time and cost for most users. There is though one feature which makes the HERO8 a decent upgrade choice from the 7 – Hypersmooth 2.0. The HERO7 has the first version of Hypersmooth, a feature that kicks in to stabilize shaky camera footage to make it look beautifully smooth. GoPro has introduced Hypersmooth 2.0 on the HERo8 and it will all but remove the need for any gimbal.

Hypersmooth 2.0 in the HERO8 is the largest technological leap from the 7, not to take away from its own Hypersmooth. For those of you who aren’t necessarily filming extreme sports all the time on your 7, you’ll be happy with what you have. The select few of you who do shoot a lot of action camera footage – biking, running, weird flippy-stuff – then Hypersmooth 2.0 puts you in a select group of videographer who would be happy exchanging a HERO7 for an 8.

Gear Travel Bloggers Carry Episode 2: Derek Baron’s Minimalist Tech Setup

It’s fair to say I travel with a fairly large tech setup with things like a drone and multiple hard drives which is even more evident when comparing it to the minimalist setup Derek Baron has. Derek, who writes Wandering Earl, has been traveling for 19 years and manages his tour company Wandering Earl Tours from a mobile office that fits entirely into his Timbuk2 Command Messenger Bag.

You can see all the gear Derek travels with in the video above: Episode 2 of Gear Travel Bloggers Carry. His setup is much less photography oriented than Jessie Festa’s gear bag and includes some unorthodox items that may give you a few packing ideas, particularly useful if you’re a messy eater.

How To Replace Your iPhone Battery With A Better One

You new iPhone battery’s life is decent for a year, then starts becoming ever useless (as the phone slows down on purpose) rather conveniently as the next generation is about to be released. A bad battery is annoying in general but especially frustrating if you’re traveling and don’t have as frequent access to a USB port. (Be careful with those by the way.) Fortunately, if you’re feeling bold and your out of the 12 month warranty, it’s possible to replace an iPhone battery for around $20.

On top of that, these replacement batteries have about 20% more capacity, allowing even a fairly heavy user to get through most of the day without a charge. Yes, you can finally be able to trust that percentage meter (no more 20% to 0 instantly) again too. Replacement batteries come in complete kits but the instructions aren’t the best. You can watch me take apart an iPhone 6s in the video above and upgrade your own battery with 20 minutes of effort – or if you’re still not convinced, try this ultra-thin charging case.

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