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Go Go GADGET 2: travel gear for the tech enthusiast

tech on the go
tech on the go
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My pockets are full.

My bags are bulging.

My cables are tangled.

My screen is cracked.

If you can admit more than one of the statements above, you need to read on. This second installment in this series (part one here) continues our walk around the internet to find the latest and greatest in supremely organized storage, comfort while you travel, and gadget safety on the go!

Luggage:

Accents by Tumi

Manufacturer – $680.00

Amazon - $595.00

Google Pricing

What makes a piece of luggage worth the price of rent for a small apartment in some parts of the world? I don’t know if that question has an answer, but if it did, it would be for a product like the Briggs and Riley piece featured in the first part of this series. That piece of luggage comes with a virtual lifetime warranty. Tumi offers 1 year of worry free coverage that covers everything down to shipping. That’s nice, but it’s not lifetime. When we get past a certain pricepoint for what amounts to a box on wheels, you need to start talking about a benefit beyond the actual product, I need an experience for a single piece of luggage that’s nearly $700.

Like most extremely nice things, part of the draw of owning it is letting others see you holding it. Tumi definitely has a name, and their products do show well. This piece of luggage is simple and elegant and it says something without screaming it, “I’m doing well and I’m not afraid to treat myself a little better when given the chance” The truth is that you could have a $100 piece of luggage with a similar function, but you are paying for a polish and an intangible quality that the nicest things have. The rolling wheels are some of the best that I’ve seen on all surfaces. They flow very freely while still offering enough resistance on an incline to keep you in control. I can’t say that for every other piece of luggage in this feature. There wasn’t a moment while using this carry-on that I felt the piece was lacking anything. There are enough pockets to keep things interesting here and the zippers were top notch. Probably my favorite aspect of the Accents system, the namesake feature, is the accessory kit that adds a pop of color to the basic black design. Aggressive colors like orange, yellow, red, which really pop against the dark backdrop. Zipper pulls, a luggage tag, monogrammed nameplate, and handle cover. It’s just enough to wink at the stuffy world of luxury anything.

Travel pillows:

Evolution pillow by Cabeau

Manufacturer – $34.99

Amazon - $39.99

Google Pricing

This pillow is a familiar sight to the frequently airport bound. You can’t pass an in-terminal minimart selling $12 bottles of water without seeing a wall of the evolution pillow by Cabeau. My first impulse for a perceived market leader is simple; is this Mcdonalds or is it the iPod? Read that as, is this the generic solution that’s good enough (mcdonalds) or the ideal version of a product that dominates for a reason (iPod). During my testing, I found that this isn’t a homerun, but it’s the better version in a market that doesn’t have a clear leader just yet. The material used inside is soft enough to give, but firm enough to support. It can compress and fold to a manageable size, and the included bag has no problem tidily concealing the pillow when not in use. The mechanism that secures the pillow in the front so that it won’t slip from your neck is a clever combination of a buckle and a standard plastic spring loaded tension clip. The price is towards the top of the market, but Cabeau is confidently selling simplicity and I can confidently say that this is one of the better travel pillows made today.

Original Travel Pillow by Comfy commuter

Manufacturer – $39.99

Amazon - $39.99

Google Pricing

This pillow felt like a step in the right direction initially, but securing it to your neck was less elegant than I’d hoped for. I needed to read the instructions… for a pillow. It fits in a specific way, but choices like an ultrasoft velour material facing outwards on the pillow made me wonder if that side needed to be facing inward. The pillow has a built in storage bag which is nice, but it hung down during use and felt a bit odd. Above the other forgivable offenses above, the pillow was just too firm to find a comfortable position for me personally. I will readily concede that the problem with reviewing something like a pillow is that my body is a unique snowflake as is yours. I can give you my version, but you’ll have to take that for what it is, a personal opinion. The internal material in the other foam neck pillow in this review just felt a bit more adaptable in the end. The company set their pricing in line with Cabeau, but this just doesn’t feel like a comparable product during use.

This will be the perfect firmness for plenty of people, but it will be a headache for plenty of others.

Travel Pillow by Travelrest

Manufacturer – $29.95

Amazon - $26.95

Google Pricing

Fun idea, but overall an unfinished thought.

Do you care how you look while resting on a plane or is it comfort above all else? The Travel Pillow by Travelrest is an inflatable pillow with an elongated L shape. The inflation valve on this piece is a genius one way system that’s effortless and truly innovative for a product like this. The valve is such a pleasant surprise in fact, that it kind of set up a disappointing experience with other aspects of the product. Like other travel pillows, this piece folds up small and stows well. It’s an air bladder, which is the main choice in travel pillow design next to memory foam. I can’t recall another product that has even attempted to improve on the old standard of the pop out inflation nipple, let alone hit such a home run - that’s enough to get my attention. As nice as the inflation is, in the end it seems that the designers either ran out of time, or were happy enough with a partial design. The pillow’s headline feature - docking to your airline seat’s headrest and lap belt - is awkward, uncomfortable, and an overall pain that wastes the momentum built from first impressions of the overall product. It’s a string that basically tightens (doesn’t stay tightened) around the headrest and ends up pulling taught and irritating your back or neck while you try to rest. You started something good Travelrest, go back to the design and finish it off with a better strapping system to attach to a headrest and tighten (and stay tight)

Wildcard:

Wings Flying Hoodie by Wingswear

Manufacturer – $79.95

I mentioned that I feel like the neck pillow market is still waiting for it’s “design of the century”. The Wings system is a bit of a novelty, but the functionality is extremely intriguing and I can say that I was honestly excited to evaluate this product. That’s not a usual statement when one is speaking about neck pillows. As a “hoodie” zip up sweatshirt you can do a lot worse than the Wings. This is a very well made piece with a satisfying weight to the fabric. I have to say this next part without being polite, the branding on this product is obnoxious and a deal breaker for any actual use for me. The design is so unique and the company should of had confidence in the distinct form alone advertising their brand. It’s easy to imagine a group of strangers saying, “what is that you’re wearing?” If Wingswear absolutely needed a logo on this product, they should have been shrunk it, made it color match the jacket itself, and move it away from the main breast pocket placement. I won’t use this product beyond my evaluation because I don’t like being used as a mobile billboard. A company should build a brand to a point that a company is happy to brag about it before they consider such a bold placement.

On the practical side, my XL sweater ran a little smaller than the normal XL that I see from other manufacturers (and that’s without washing it). The button on neck pillow had one extremely secure button and one easily detached button. That made me worry about consistency in the company’s product. If both of those buttons were loose, the pillow would have easily shifted during normal use. The inflation nozzle is a standard “beach ball” style plastic nipple. It’s unfortunately placed on the back center of the pillow which means to adjust at all, you’d really need to remove the pillow from the jacket. This design is just asking (especially on an airplane!) for a plane safety vest inflation tube. You know the one from the “if your vest doesn’t inflate blow into the straw”. For the price that’s charged for this system, more thought on inflation is not too much to ask. The hood has an innovative addition, a hidden eyemask, which is perfectly executed and worked very well. This was one of the best thought through aspects of the whole design, down to the separated head strap that doesn’t pinch and irritate your ear while keeping the mask in place.

It’s hard to see this piece beyond a novelty with the branding choices the company has made.

Wireless Flash Drive by SanDisk

Manufacturer – $109.99

Amazon - $79.95

Google Pricing

This is one of those gadgets that is ripe for right now. The pace of technology is like nothing else around us. Minutes after a new phone, laptop, etc. is released, it is near immediately past it’s prime. Selecting gadgets has become an act akin to playing the stock market or seeing the future. You just have to hope that you’re in the exact window of time where the satisfaction of your current gadget will outlast the temptation of it’s quickly available successor.

There was a time when your phone, tv, etc. couldn’t do everything and a device like this had enough of a draw to justify a purchase. A similar functionality to this wireless flash drive is found in many devices today, but the real draw here is that you don’t need an internet connection to use the device. It does what it advertises well. Download a simple app for Android/iOS and the wireless flash drive is a portable media server that fits in your pocket and stores it’s own power (advertised as 4 hours). The device works over Wi-Fi, but that doesn’t mean that it requires an active connection to the internet. When powered on, the device creates it’s own Wi-Fi network that you connect to (password or no is your choice) on your phone, tablet, etc. You can stream to 3 different devices at a time which doesn’t mean 3 devices receiving the same content. You can stream 3 separate movies to three separate devices (connects to up to 8 devices at a time) and I didn’t see any slowdown in my testing.

All in all, a great little piece of tech if you have the need.

Thank you to the companies mentioned above for providing samples to evaluate for this site.

@ExaminerPhil