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Hit The Road, Mac!
We’ve all heard the stories about brave souls who leave their laptops, cell phones, and other devices behind so they can completely disconnect from the world while on vacation. But being away from our Apple tech and the Internet for more than a day is our idea of hell.
Whether you’re driving home for the holidays this year or hitting the road to escape the festive chaos, there’s no reason to leave your little “tech family” at home alone—and you can easily convert your Mac laptop, iPods, and iPhone into even more perfect traveling companions with the gear we’ve rounded up here.
Acme Made’s Clyde City laptop bag is lined with bright orange ballistic nylon to help you find your gear more easily.
Start your trip off right by stashing your stuff in a well-made computer bag with padding to protect your MacBook or MacBook Pro from falls, scratches, and other harm. Acme Made’s bags stand out among the plethora of choices, and their stylish designs don’t scream “There’s a laptop in here!”—you can use the bag even when you aren’t toting your MacBook around. The new Clyde City bag ($99, acmemade.com) is a midsize messenger bag with a padded compartment that fits a 17-inch or smaller laptop and has pockets for your iPhone, iPod, and many other essentials—even a pocket for magazines. If you need something a little bigger, check out the Clyde, which is same basic design but a little more spacious ($180, acmemade.com).
Zeyner’s black leather Backfire is a cross between a backpack and the seat of a really cool Harley.
If your road trip involves two wheels instead of four, the most sensible way to stow your tech gear is in a backpack. Zeyner’s Backfire backpack ($460 in leather, $260 in ballistic nylon, zeyner .com) has an understated stitched flame design, a padded portable computer compartment that snuggles your MacBook, interior pockets for your iPod and iPhone, and features such as a ventilated back cushion and adjustable straps to keep you comfy. The bag even has a flat bottom so it won’t slump over when you set it down.
If your need to stay connected requires more than reading email and doing a bit of Web browsing on your iPhone, Verizon Wireless’s V740 EV-DO (free with service, verizon.com) or AT&T’s Option GT Ultra (free with service, www.att.com) laptop cards provide anytime, anywhere high-speed Internet access for your Mac laptop. Just plug it into your Macbook’s PC card slot and you’ll have access to the provider’s EV-DO wireless network—usually at much faster speeds than a Wi-Fi connection. Either card can be had for free, but you do need to sign up for a wireless-data service plan, which ranges from $40 to $60 a month. MacBook Pro owners might consider a Sierra Wireless Compass 597 USB Modem from Sprint Nextel (free with service plan, www.sprint.com), since they don’t sport PC card slots.
For traveling tunes, Kensington’s LiquidAUX Deluxe for iPhone or iPod ($99.99, kensington.com) connects your iPhone or iPod to your car stereo’s auxiliary port, but since you can do that with any $2 male/male audio cable from Radio Shack, the big deal here is the steering wheel–mounted remote control that lets you play, pause, and skip music files with a flick of your thumb. You get to keep your hands on the wheel while maintaining control over your music, the stand holds your iPhone or iPod neatly and safely in place, and your device’s battery gets recharged while you listen.
We don’t recommend watching videos with these goggles for more than a few hours at a stretch, but then again, we’re not eye doctors.
For the kids—or backseat drivers—check out Vuzix’s iWear AV310 video goggles ($249.95, vuzix.com). Connect the goggles to any device that supports video output and the folks in the back can watch movies and play games on what appears to be a 52-inch widescreen TV (16:9 aspect ratio) viewed from 9 feet away. The AV310s run for 5 hours on one AA battery and come with adjustable earbuds.
DLO’s Portable Speakers for iPhone offer travel-ready sound in the round.
Once you reach your destination, there’s no need to rely on local TV or pricey pay-per-view services for entertainment. Just break out DLO’s Portable Speakers for iPhone ($49.99, dlo.com), pop your iPhone or iPod touch into the rotating stand, and enjoy your own movies or music. If a call comes in while your iPhone is connected, it will function as a speakerphone. It’s easy to pack this system too: Each speaker snaps cleverly into its base to create a 6-inch ball, and there’s even a neat little compartment for cords. All you need to power the speaker doc are AAA batteries or the included AC adapter.
Turn a single plug into a many-armed multitasker with a PowerSquid from Flexity.
If your travels take you to places that lack sufficient power outlets, pack a Flexity PowerSquid ($17.95, powersquid.com). The Surge3000 Calamari Edition ($69.95) not only transforms one wall outlet into six power plugs, it also protects your gear from power spikes. All the PowerSquids are pretty spiffy looking, but the Calamari was specifically designed to complement the look of Apple gadgets. This is also a great product for use at home too.
Kensington’s Mini Battery Pack and Charger for iPhone and iPod provides the extra juice your devices need to keep you entertained on long plane rides or car trips.
To keep the power flowing when you’re away from wall outlets, Kensington’s Mini Battery Pack and Charger for iPhone and iPod ($49.99, kensington.com) supplements your device’s onboard battery. Small enough to keep connected to your iPod or iPhone at all times, the Mini should provide up to 30 hours of music playback, 6 hours of video playback, or 3 hours of talk time.
Happy holidays—and happy tech trails!