Fun in the Sun
Keep the good times rolling this summer with these cool tech recommendations.
Summer vacations are typically filled with days of blissful relaxation. But when your travel gear doesn’t deliver, that bliss can potentially turn to frustration. A little bit of preparation paired with the right gear, though, can make your summer getaway really click. Here are some recommendations:
Keep on dancing
Whether you’re sitting around the beach bonfire or settling down for dinner at the getaway house, you know that music can set the perfect mood. Portable Bluetooth® speakers can deliver the right ambiance when used with your phone or tablet to stream tunes from your own music library or from services such as Pandora or Spotify®.
Unlike some boxy portable speakers that tend to over-emphasize lower bass notes and aim the sound in only one direction, the Ultimate Ears UE BOOM is a cylindrically shaped speaker that projects an open, balanced sound in 360 degrees, so no one is left out of the sweet spot. Its rechargeable battery will keep people dancing for over 12 hours (depending on the volume).
If you have a larger crowd, consider stepping up to the waterproof Ultimate Ears UE MEGABOOM, which is about 33 percent larger (and much louder)—sure to keep even the biggest pool party rocking.
Stay in charge
When the sun sets on your perfect day, you don’t want it to also end for your smartphone. But pictures, posts and checking in with the office (it’s okay, you can admit it) can run down your phone before the night arrives. The best solution—especially when you’re far from a power outlet—is a portable battery pack.
For owners of Apple® iPhone® 5 or the newer iPhone® 6 and iPhone 6® Plus, there’s the mophie powerstation® plus 3x with Lightning Connector. About the size of a deck of cards, it has a lithium-ion battery that will deliver about 2 1/2 full phone charges—and in two-thirds of the time it takes a standard wall adapter to do the same. Four tiny LEDs on the side tell you how much battery power is left.
The handiest feature of the powerstation is that you don’t have to carry additional cables. Flip open the aluminum cover, and you’ll find a built-in USB cable (for charging the battery or connecting to a laptop) and the Lightning cable.
Not an iPhone user? Not to worry. There’s another version of the powerstation with a built-in micro USB plug for Android™ phone owners.
You are here
Gags about selfies gone wrong are abundant. Invest in something that will help you take the ultimate selfie—safely. The iPlanet Bluetooth Selfie Stick works with iPhones as well as Android phones. It uses a wireless Bluetooth connection to enable a shutter button in its handle to trigger the phone’s camera. The telescoping pole extends from 9 inches to more than 39 inches, allowing you to capture you and your surroundings without any need for acrobatics. All you have to do is smile, and click.
Record your adventures
GoPro® cameras have become synonymous with point-of-view (POV) action videos and extreme sports. But you don’t have to be on a zipline or a surfboard to appreciate the GoPro HERO4 Silver Edition. Sure, you can use it while diving along a reef (it’s waterproof to a depth of 131 feet), but it’s also perfect for sitting back and capturing the rest of the family cavorting on the beach.
GoPro’s made their HERO4 Silver Edition camera easier to use by adding a built-in color touchscreen (so now you can run it without having to use your phone as a viewfinder). This GoPro shoots crisp full HD video (1080p)—and the latest high-res 4K format (albeit at just 15 frames per second versus the full 30 fps).
Get in shape for the beach
With swimsuit season upon us, shedding a few pounds might be one of your main priorities for enjoying your vacation. Whether that means hitting the neighborhood trails or the treadmill, you can keep track of calories burned, workout intensity, distance traveled and more with the Fitbit Charge HR™ Wireless Heart Rate + Activity Wristband.
Besides an accelerometer and an altimeter, the Fitbit Charge HR features an optical heart-rate sensor that measures blood volume levels to determine your heart rate. You can track progress and analyze trends via the app, and even share your stats to compete with friends to see who’s really in the best shape for the beach. An added bonus: With notifications right on your wrist, you won’t miss any important calls during your workouts.
John R. Quain has covered technology for more than 20 years, reporting on consumer electronics, cars, and the future of communications.