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Tech Archives - foXnoMad

Category: Tech

What Are eSIMs? Easy Mobile Internet For Travel

This post was sponsored by Airalo who wanted me to share with you the benefits of eSIMs using their service. [What is this?]

The latest version of mobile SIM cards make it easy to get data plans around the world through an app – and it may already be built into your phone. eSIMs are the next generation of subscriber identity modules that differ from plastic and gold physical SIMs by being software based.

What this means for international travelers is getting mobile data from country to country is as easy as a few clicks using Airalo.

How eSIMs Work

You’re probably familiar with standard SIM cards, that piece of removable plastic you slide into in a slot on your phone. eSIMs serve the same function – to identify your phone to mobile networks – but eSIMs are physically embedded in your phone’s hardware. When you need to change your SIM, say, for when you’re visiting France from Canada, instead of swapping out a SIM card, all you need to do is open an app.

Benefits For Travelers

Some of the immediate up sides to eSIMs is you don’t need to go to a physical shop or deal with local restrictions. All you have to do is go to an eSIM provider like Airalo, which has plans in over 100 countries worldwide. Set up an account with Airalo, then download their app and choose your next destination. You’ll be presented with a variety of (mostly) data plans, which vary by duration and total data (e.g. 3GB).

airalo esim

You do need to do all of this while you have a wifi connection but otherwise you can get all the cards you’ll need ahead of your travels. Airalo even provides regional eSIM cards such as Europe plus you can keep your original SIM card active if you want, for example, to get calls on one line but use data with the other.

Convenient Service, Quirky Setup

Because eSIMs are fairly new (only working with these latest flagship phones) mobile operating systems make installing an eSIM clunky at best. Once you’ve purchased your eSIM from a provider like Airalo, you’ll be presented with a QR code you need to scan from your phone. In other words, you can’t install the eSIM using only the Airalo app since you need to scan the QR code from your mobile’s cellular settings.

airalo

The most obvious options are to point your phone at your laptop to scan the code after logging into your Airalo account. Taking a picture of the code displayed on your phone with another phone (what are travel buddies for) and scanning that, or using two mirrors in a hotel room has also worked for me.

No More Airport SIM Stops

There are other issues like having to change APN codes which will be too much hoop jumping for users who aren’t too tech-savvy. Despite these issues eSIM services are getting better but the technology is already the best option for travelers. You no longer have to wait in airport lines for mobile data when you can have Internet right when you land. Using Airalo is a bit more expensive than purchasing a local SIM and phone numbers aren’t available for most plans; however the convenience means you probably won’t bother with physical cards again.

Prevent People From Snooping Your Screen With A Laptop Privacy Filter

This is a sponsored post written by me Sponsored by 3M All opinions are 100% mine.

I use a privacy filter on all my screens so when 3M got in touch for this sponsored partnership it was a good opportunity to share the benefits with you. [What is this?]

3m privacy filter

We’ve all had the experience of people looking over our shoulder on the metro, bus, or planes, curious to see what we’re looking at on our phones. With smaller devices it’s easy to turn a shoulder but for laptops, keeping your screen private is more difficult, especially when traveling.

There are a lot of good reasons to keep the contents of your screen hidden from shoulder surfers sitting next to you on a plane: business travelers to keep important documents confidential, regulatory requirements in your field, and developers working on code. Disclosure of any of those, not to mention your passwords, name (when logging on to social media), can all be easily prevented with a privacy filter.

What’s A Privacy Filter?

These are like screen protectors placed on your laptop screen, except the 3M™ Privacy Filter limits the viewing angles. Basically the contents of the screen are only visible from one angle – right in front. People sitting next to you at a cafe or standing in an airplane aisle won’t be able to see your screen. You can watch the effect in the video below to see how even a screen image at full brightness disappears when you move a bit to the side.

 

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15 Second Installation

The collaborative nature of a laptop – it can be your business work space or television in one – means you don’t want to always restrict your screen for your eyes only. To make using a laptop privacy filter practical, 3M developed its 3M™ COMPLY™ Attachment System. For people who don’t want to stick anything to their screen, the way the 3M™ COMPLY ™ Attachment System works is by using two adhesives to the exterior or your laptop. Fast, and easily removable without residue if needed, you can see in the video below how the 3M™ COMPLY™ Attachment System allows you to simply flip a privacy filter up or down as needed.

3m privacy filter

What I like about the 3M™ Privacy Filters is they’re designed (with a feature called 3M™ COMPLY ™ Attachment System) so you can get switch between private viewing and sharing with little effort if needed. You might be on a flight and want to share your screen with a friend or have a meeting where a privacy filter might hinder your group’s view.

Worth The Effort?

You may be thinking whether or not a privacy filter is excessive but if you travel for business in particular, it can help maintain your company’s proprietary information. Digital nomads or other small, independent business owners, the same goes for you. A displayed password, code snippet, or other personal information caught at a glance by a shoulder surfer could cause you potential headaches a 3M ™ Privacy Filter can prevent. The 3M™ COMPLY ™ Attachment System is an elegant way to implement a laptop privacy screen in a way that you’ll actually use it in multiple situations and is a portable, effective, and inexpensive way to maintain your privacy on the road.

What 249 Gram Drones Mean For Travelers

There are a number of rules, regulations, and restrictions for flying drones around the world. Often, an important number you’ll find in many of the regulations is 250 grams, a weight used to differentiate between drone classifications. With the release of the DJI Mavic Mini specifically designed to weigh 249g, you might be wondering what it means if you travel with a drone.

There’s a lot of confusion regarding the current weight limits and not knowing the right rules could get you fined or worse. Here’s what you need to know about flying your lightweight drone.

Why 249g?

It’s important to remember that drone rules vary across the world (here’s an always up to date map, as well the mobile version), but in many United States jurisdictions and western Europe, 250 grams often marks the line between two classes of drone. Since a lot of the world has taken its drone law cues from the U.S. (one of the world’s largest drone consumers), 250 grams has become an unofficial global standard.

scottish highlands

Drones weighing more than 250 grams are usually considering amateur unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) whereas 249g and less are either a lower class of drone or classified as toys.

Rules Still Apply

One major point of confusion for a lot of people to clear up now – in most places with a 250g weight limit, drones weighing less aren’t exempt from any rules. For the most part, drones like the Mavic Mini weighing 249g don’t have to be registered, but all the other restrictions apply.

And if you think about it, that makes sense. The Mavic Mini is 249g but it can still fly above 120 meters (394 feet) which is most places is not allowed because that’s another level of flight space. You still need to maintain a visual line of sight (VLOS) in Sweden for example, since 249g or not, crashing a drone can still be dangerous to people below.

Know The Local Regulations

Drones weighing less than 249g might be able to be imported into countries where UAVs are not officially allowed but it’s important to check the specific rules that apply. As I mentioned above, this map is updated in real-time and DroneMate (Android/iOS) can put all the local laws and regulations in your pocket for offline use. It’s also worth mentioning that as drones get lighter and smaller, legislators are likely to update the rules over time to encompass the updated tech.

249g drones like the Mavic Mini make it just a little less hassle to get permission to fly a drone in some places but that’s not likely to be the case indefinitely.

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!

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