Tales Of Tech And Travel
A lot of us talk about the complexity of living in an always-on, always-connected world, how our mobile phones and our laptops have made us obsessive and compulsive and how dreamlike it would be on an remote island cut away from the world. But it's good to be always on, always available, always connected – everywhere.india Updated: Aug 12, 2011 12:29 IST
Dark clouds, a spatter of rain, a gentle wind, large waves lashing the coastline, the sand shifting under my feet, miles away from humanity, no Internet connection, no mobile phone, no laptop, completely cut off from the world, one with nature... pure bliss! I woke up with a shock, sweat pouring down my forehead, it took a few seconds to register – yes, it was just a nightmare.
A lot of us talk about the complexity of living in an always-on, always-connected world, how our mobile phones and our laptops have made us obsessive and compulsive and how dreamlike it would be on an remote island cut away from the world. I’ve tried it and believe me, it’s not blissful, it’s not calming and it’s not serene. You feel strangely disconnected, as if life is passing you by, that you’re missing something. And then the panic sets in. Thus, this time I was prepared with my bag of travel goodies.
This is advice straight from the heart and the purse. Get a local SIM card the minute you land. International roaming is the biggest rip-off in the world of technology. Voice and data prices will bring you to your knees. You can get amazing deals at the airport itself. Get one with a set number of free calls and a data package. And get one phone for each adult member of the family. There’s nothing more frustrating than needing to communicate in an emergency and realising that a call will cost you a thousand bucks.
Whatever you do, make that switch now. If you’re about to buy a new phone, make sure you buy an unlocked version. If you’ve bought one already, call your service provider and demand for it to be unlocked (after all, you paid the full price, they didn’t subsidise it – so why is it locked?). Remember, it takes months to set your phone up just right from contacts to email to bookmarks to apps. On a trip out, you put in a new local SIM card and realise that your phone is locked only to your service provider back home. That is a disaster – a very expensive disaster.
Just an unlocked phone isn’t enough, you need the right one. It needs to be World band (will work in all countries), must allow wireless tethering (your own WiFi hotspot so that you don’t pay those ridiculous hotel broadband charges) and an add-on case that doubles as a extra battery like the Mophie juice pack.
It’s true, the best memories of a travel trip are the photographs and the videos you take. Also true is the fact that a DSLR will give you the best results (you don’t want out of focus, poorly lit, badly formatted memories). Even more true is that there is nothing worse to carry on a trip than a bloated, heavy, unwieldy DSLR. That’s where the new prosumer ¾ cameras come in. Small little bodies, interchangeable lenses, easy to use and super intelligent with fantastic results. With great HD video as part of the package; you can ditch your camcorder too. Olympus EPL-2 and the Sony Nex 5 are great options.
Yes, it’s finally happened. You can ditch your Notebook and laptop at least when you travel. On this trip out I did a small little experiment. For the first five days, I used only a laptop and for the next five I used only a Tablet. I’m glad to say that the Tablet won outright. You need a little forward planning (load up all the files you need) and you need the right work apps (also helps as a GPS, maps and location finder). This will replace not just your Notebook but also your portable movie player, music player, gaming machine and ebook reader. The jury is still out as to what is the best travel Tablet (7-inch or larger?) – but the Notebook versus Tablet verdict is in.
Despite improving on many things like better seats, better in-flight entertainment and sometimes even better food, airlines still persist with one crappy item: sucky headphones. You need your own and some of the new ones are nothing short of pure magic – Able Planet (uses technology developed to boost the sound quality of hearing aids), Bose (still the most comfortable and still the most expensive) and Sony (almost 99 per cent active noise cancellation).
There’s a lot more I tried out this time on travels far and wide. The Delorme Earthmate (a GPS, but even more cool is the fact that it can send one-way messages from anywhere in the world at no charge), Grid It (the perfect organiser, it has interwoven elastic bands that can hold all your gadgets) and the Philips Powerpack (a rechargeable battery pack that can juice up any gadget on the road).
Put some or all of these together and I can guarantee you that you’ll be always on, always available, always connected, smack bang in the middle of it all. No silly escapes from the complexity and fast pace of the daily grind. Now THAT is real bliss!
Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3. Follow Rajiv on Twitter at twitter.com/RajivMakhni
From HT Brunch, July 17
Follow us on twitter.com/HTBrunch
Connect with us on facebook.com/hindustantimesbrunch