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Bluetooth Wireless Headphones
Headphones are a must for any trip, especially on airplanes where you’re trying to drown out the noise of four engines or four crying babies (or all of the above).
My biggest problem with most earbuds is that the cords always become tangled into a gargantuan mess, either in my bag or around my neck as I (foolishly) attempt to balance my iPad and a meal on the tray on the seatback in front of me. That’s followed by another pet peeve with noise-cancelling headphones being that they are usually bulky and very thirsty for battery juice all the time — a frustration for long flights.
LG offers a stellar entry that alleviates all of the aforementioned afflictions. Not only does this almost weightless headset offer high-quality audio and fit virtually anywhere (I kept it around my neck most of the time — even through security metal detectors), but it charges via standard Micro USB. That battery charge feels like it lasts forever sometimes — or at least it survived a nine-hour haul from Istanbul to New York immediately followed by another six-hour jaunt to San Francisco.
LG Tone Ultra HBS800 wireless stereo headset. Available in black and white. MSRP: $119.99.
Attachable Camera Lens for Smartphones
Sony Cyber-shot QX10
The cameras on newer iPhone models and many Android smartphones have all but replaced the standard point-and-shoot camera, but in some spots they’re still lacking.
In case you want a boost without upgrading to a digital SLR or even an entry-level interchangeable lens camera, you may want to consider an attachable lens. Such an accessory can boost zoom levels by 10 times.
Sony offers two decent options in this category, including the lower-end QX10, which you can get for roughly $200 when on sale with some online vendors. (Looking for a good used or refurbished model on Amazon, NewEgg or Overstock is also a great way to save some cash and get nearly the same quality as a new model.)
One of the benefits of this space-saver route is the one-touch connection with your smartphone, where you can save hundreds upon hundreds of photos that can then be automatically geo-tagged (if you’re into that sort of thing) and synced with photo sharing and storage apps like Dropbox. (More on that later.)
Sony Cyber-shot QX10. Available in black and white. MSRP: $249.99.
Portable Power Bank
As a sign of the times, none of the gadgets featured thus far require archaic disposable batteries.
But they do all depend on an electric outlet now and then.
To reduce the number of outlets and cords required (not to mention how often you’ll need to pull over to recharge), a portable power bank could come in handy. You shouldn’t have to spend much on one of these, and most options aren’t much larger than a Swiss Army knife. Try to find one sporting a 3-in-1 adapter cable so that you can charge standard USB-equipped devices alongside old and new iOS products.