Staying Connected

What gadgets can't you travel without? Phone, camera, GPS, MP3 player, laptop? In Europe last Spring I found myself sitting on a plane, tangled in devices and cables and batteries and headphones - all in an effort to stay connected. I needed to simplify.

PC World just put out a helpful "best-of" article on travel-friendly netbooks, laptops, and smartphones. Read it here:


When I travel I want to stay connected and document my trip while struggling to keep my packing weight and my expenses to a minimum. Recently I took up the task of finding a new travel-friendly smartphone for domestic and international trips. After weeks of research and awkward visits to the mobile phone store ("Oh, you again. Are you ever going to buy a new phone?") I decided on the Samsung Omnia:

Con: This is not a GSM (global-ready) phone. I thought a GSM phone was what I wanted but after looking at several I found that they lacked a lot of the key features I needed. In addition, the cost of maintaining the monthly global calling plan, plus the increased per-minute rate, was just too expensive. The simple solution for international calling is to buy a cheap pre-paid calling card and use public phones to make your calls. I estimated that by using a calling card on my last week long trip out of the United States I saved over $100.00 compared to having made the same calls on a world phone.

Pros: Tons of features that eliminate the need to carry five or six different devices. 5 MP camera - one of the highest for camera phones, 16 GB of storage - perfect for music and video, full HTML web browsing with WI-FI connectivity - great for e-mail and blogging, Windows Mobile 6.1 - if you need to keep up on work while you're away, full QWERTY touch screen keyboard, GPS, tons of apps - Facebook, Google Maps.

This is the only device I take with me now. Everything I need in one small package. I look forward to taking a break in a little coffee shop or bar that offers free WI-FI. I'll sit for an hour or so, listen to music, catch up on e-mail, update blogs, edit some photos and videos and upload them for friends and family to see, then throw the phone in my pocket and move on.


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