Tech it on the road

Today’s travellers need to keep their many portable devices charged and make sure they have the content wherever they are. The tech solutions to these problems are out there, says Clare Newsome, head of marketing and PR at Exertis Unlimited…

As I write this, I’m packing for a three-day trip to the Munich High End Show and musing how tech has changed the average contents of my luggage. Back in the day, the only nod to anything electrical would have been a spare box of batteries for my beloved Walkman, along with an agonisingly small collection of cassettes – rarely pared down to fewer than 20 tapes.

These days, the first things in my case are a cluster of chargers, cables and adapters for the array of devices I’m taking with me – laptop, iPad, iPhone, smartwatch, electric toothbrush, active noise-cancelling headphones and an Astell & Kern portable music player jammed with high-resolution tunes. I’ll probably squeeze in a Bluetooth speaker, too.

OK, I may be a little more gadget-obsessed than the average traveller, but whether it’s for work or play, we’re all packing more tech, and that means accessory solutions to suit.

Higher-capacity portable power banks are one way to cut the clutter – no more mains leads and adapters. Cygnett won a 2018 CES Innovation Awards for its ChargeUp Pro 20K, a 20,000mAh lithium polymer power bank that intelligently charges up to three devices at once, including the latest-generation USB-C powered laptops, such as the Apple MacBook and Microsoft Surface Book 2.

This increases the power output to allow these larger devices to be charged by delivering up to three times more power compared with a standard USB-C port. The Power Delivery chip can detect exactly what device it is connected to, so it always delivers the safest and quickest charge between your devices. Smart.

Need even more flexibility? US start-up Omnicharge has arrived in the UK with a range of high-capacity power banks. Its bestseller includes an AC/DC outlet.

A different way of cutting cables – and the desperate need for mains power – is to look at accessories with better battery life. This is especially true on the headphone front, where the newest Bluetooth headphones promise 30+ hours playing time. Marshall’s rocking new Major III Bluetooth is a perfect example of a longer-lasting pair, easily able to power through a week’s commute without going near a plug.

Another pre-trip ritual that’s now firmly in the past is painstakingly setting up recordings of favourite TV shows – catch-up TV services have that covered. The new EU digital single market rules for portable streaming, which came into effect in April, give travellers extra viewing options, too. No more enabling a bandwidth-sapping VPN on your computer, phone or tablet to watch Netflix or Amazon Prime Video anywhere on your European travels.

Cygnett ChargeUp Pro

That also means you could pop a streaming stick or pocket-sized player – Roku’s Express Streaming Player is a steal at £30 – into your luggage and plug it into an HDMI socket of your hotel/holiday home TV, log it on to wi-fi and enjoy a world of content. Perfect for rainy days.

Not confident of hotel wi-fi? You can always download and take more content with you, with another stick – Leef’s Bridge or Sandisk’s iXpand are both great examples that can boost any Lightning-connected Apple device by up to 256GB.

It’s also a fantastic solution if you plan to shoot a lot pictures and video on your devices. With smartphone cameras getting ever-more sophisticated, there’s going to be an even bigger number of images captured than the mind-boggling 1.2 trillion InfoTrends data estimates were taken in 2017. Even with a higher-capacity device, you’re going to run out of room fast, so top-up storage is becoming an essential accessory.

Finally, one last change in tech-related trip activity has come fairly recently, thanks to smart-home innovation. Gone are the days of methodically switching off appliances and devices around the home before leaving for a trip – and still somehow worrying on the way about the iron being left on.

Smart devices – even smart sockets, such as Lightwave’s sleek line-up – mean a simple swipe, or even a voice command, to turn off all but the essentials. Plus there’s the added security of being able to turn on lights while you’re away to deter potential burglars, and even check up on the place using smart security cameras.

Right, my tech-filled case and I are off to the airport. “Siri, switch smart devices to ‘away’ mode.”