There are two clear-cut winners among those: The wonderfully well-made Dell XPS 13 for Windows users, and the long-steady MacBook Air for Apple loyalists. With its sharper screen, lower starting price, and tighter design, I prefer the new XPS 13, but you really can’t go wrong either way.Laptops are one of those markets where you really see a drop-off in quality if you try to cut costs — there are a few decent budget options out there, but most are too chunky and battery-light to be great companions on the go.If you know you can be careful with it, though, Acer’s Aspire V13 is a solid value for a relatively affordable $600. If even that is too much, or you just want something to type up some Word docs on the flight, I don’t mind the $170 Lenovo Ideapad 100s, either.Unless you splurge on something like a Surface Pro 4 — which still appears to be as good as it gets, for a hybrid — your tablet will probably get more mileage as a consumption device than a production one on the road. It’s mostly something for movie watching, web browsing, book reading, and game playing.To nobody’s surprise, Apple’s iPad line still has the best mix of gorgeous design, super fast performance, and dead simple software for making all that a pleasure. If you grab the iPad Air 2, you’ll get something that’s at least somewhat accommodating to most people’s work too.
The iPad mini 4, meanwhile, is about as powerful as the Air 2, and more compact, but won’t be as friendly if productivity is a big deal.The entry-level iPad mini 2 is the weakest in the series, and has a comparatively lesser display, but it’s still great for the money, and a little less unwieldy by default. The sheer user-friendliness of iOS on tablets keeps it a step above just about any other budget tablet on the market.For pure value, though, the $50 Amazon Fire is tough to top. It’s a cheap slate, to be sure, but it’s consistently competent where it matters. If you just want to pass the time with a few videos, especially if you’re an Amazon Prime member, it’s a great buy for the cash-strapped.If you’d really rather not crunch your laptop into your bag, packing a portable keyboard will make working with your tablet less of a headache than it’d be with a virtual QWERTY pad.These don’t get much lighter and thinner than the Logitech Keys-to-Go, which is what one of the Surface Pro’s Touch Covers would be like if it had genuine feedback and travel. It’s totally spill-resistant, too, and these days you can find it for a relatively affordable $35 or so.
Its ultra-thin design won’t be for everyone, however. If you’d rather a slightly more traditional, though no less affordable, keyboard, the Logitech K380 feels good, looks good, and isn’t a burden to carry around.If you’re the type who spends your rides plowing through books, Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite is a great buy. The Kindle ecosystem is far and away the most reliable of the e-reading crop, and the fine display, big battery, and built-in backlight of the Paperwhite make accessing it very smooth. The only noteworthy issue is that it’s not waterproof; if that’s a concern, Barnes & Noble’s Nook GlowLight Plus should do the trick.You don’t need me to explain why your smartphone is an important travel accessory. There’s a good chance it runs your life as it is. But if you’re a frequent traveler in the market for a new phone, it’s worth picking up an unlocked model — i.e., one that isn’t tied down to a particular carrier.You’ll still pay a little more for it upfront — though times are changing — but one perk you’ll gain in return is the ability to swap out SIM cards and switch carriers if you’re heading overseas. You’ll keep coverage and avoid pricey roaming charges as a result, and most of the time you’ll even make a little more cash when it comes time to resell the device.
None of this really changes which smartphones are best, though: The iPhone 6s is still great for most people, what with its wonderful camera, blazing fast performance, full display, and eternally supported app store. There isn’t really anyone for whom it’s outright bad. Just about all of that applies to the Samsung Galaxy S7, too, and its camera is even better. Huawei’s Nexus 6P is a fantastic alternative for phablet aficionados, meanwhile, and the Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 is a well-rounded choice for those on a budget.And if you just need a cheapo old-school phone in case of emergencies, you can look to something like the Blu Tank II. Don’t judge.Alright, you’ve made it to the hotel, and you want to relax a bit before heading back into the wild. You can catch some Netflix on one of many solid media streamers, but of the cheaper and more compact dongles on the market, I like the new Roku Streaming Stick.
Its UI doesn't heavily favor one service the way the Amazon Fire TV Stick does, it doesn’t require an outside device like the Google Chromecast, and it's faster than both. It can bypass the pesky captive portals that keep some streamers from connecting at hotels, and its app now lets you connect headphones for private listening. For $50, it does almost everything you need, and does it well.You can liven up that hotel room (or the drive to it) by blasting some music (or just some NPR) through a quality Bluetooth speaker. There’s an overwhelming number of options to choose from, but the JBL Flip 3 nets you a full, smooth sound, about 10-12 hours of battery life, water resistance, and a sturdy, colorful design for less than $100. It’s good value.If you’re backpacking or generally heading outdoors, though, a more diminutive speaker like the JBL Clip+ might work better. As its name implies, it has a built-in carabiner clip that lets it easily attach to a bag or belt loop. It also has the same water resistance. It can’t get as powerful as the Flip 3, naturally, but its sound is still crisp, clear, and largely free of distortion. It’s a superb choice in the $40-50 range.
As we’ve noted before, HooToo’s series of TripMate devices are explicitly designed to make traveling more convenient. The TripMate Titan is the high-end model of the group, and acts as a serviceable portable battery, travel WiFi router, and network-attached storage all at once.It isn’t outstanding in any one of those areas, but it’s the rare all-in-one that actually does multiple things well. It isn’t particularly big, either. For $59 (normally), it’s a fairly affordable way to consolidate a few handy devices into one.Still, many of you may not need a travel router or NAS to make it through your trip. A portable battery, on the other hand, is almost always something you’ll be glad to have brought with you.Anker is a tried-and-true name in that market, and its new PowerCore batteries are smooth, slim, and efficient. At $20 for a 10400mAh unit or $40 for a 20100mAh pack, they aren’t overly expensive either.That they have near-perfect user reviews on Amazon at the moment should give you an idea of how reliable they are. If you have a long ride ahead, there’s just a heightened sense of security that comes with having one of these things around. They’re usually worth the bag space.
Then there’s the obvious power-related stuff. Regardless of what gadgets you bring on your travels, it can never hurt to have a few spare microUSB and/or Lightning cables around in case one gets misplaced along the way. Again, Anker has reliable and affordable options here with its PowerLine microUSB Cable and Lightning-to-USB Cable.Likewise, if you wind up in a hotel room that doesn’t have enough outlets to charge all your devices, a small power strip like Belkin’s SurgePlus Mini Charger can come in handy.Finding steady internet on the go (or in a spotty hotel room) is a notorious hassle, but you can bypass much of that annoyance with a mobile hotspot. If you can’t or don’t want to use your phone as such, Verizon’s Jetpack MiFi 6620L is a dependable, consistently well-reviewed option. Like most MiFi routers, it’s not cheap, but Verizon’s network has long been the fastest and most expansive in the country. If you live on the road, it could be a wise investment.Finally, your gear will be more prone to disasters when you’re outside the confines of your home. As such, it’s worth another reminder that you should really go out of your way to backup your data before heading off. If you’re working with a handful of important files in particular, bringing along a spare flash drive is a simple and space-efficient way to keep them safe.
The differences between most USB sticks aren’t enormous, practically speaking — just make sure you buy a USB 3.0 one — but the SanDisk Extreme gets you proven fast read/write speeds and a fair amount of space at an affordable price. With a 4.6 rating after 1,800 Amazon reviews, it’s shouldn’t let you down. Google is reportedly working on a brand new tablet that will look and feel just like the Chromebook Pixel, save for two key differences — it'll run on Android and it won't be attached to a keyboard.Google's current Chromebook Pixel devices are laptops that run on its Chrome OS operating system, which is based on its Chrome browser. The new tablet would essentially be a tablet version of Google's Pixel line of Chromebooks, and the company plans to call it the Pixel C, according to Android Police, which claims to have received information from insider sources. The new device will reportedly launch in November, but Google is likely to announce it at its big event in San Francisco on Tuesday.