Five Travel Gadgets You Need in Your LifeBy Natasha Culzac
Introducing our latest monthly column, bringing you our 5 brilliant items it’s about time you packed in your hand luggage every month… Next stop Honolulu.
1. Big U-Shot
What: Always trying to get the ultimate selfie? Try the U-Shot – an extendable monopod which attaches to a compact digital camera and can be held up high (or out) to get a shot that would otherwise be massively awkward or wholly impossible.
Why: XSories, the French manufacturer, says it creates U-shots with extreme sports in mind but perhaps the products are also handy for beating the tourist chaos when visiting, say, the Mona Lisa at the height of summer in Paris?
Tip: Try the Deluxe Leather version of the Big U-Shot, which has a tailor-made, camel-coloured stitched handle (weirdly resembling a cigarette) for £59.99. The aluminium won’t rust and the arm happily extends from 29cm to 94cm. Perfect.
What: Swarovski Optik has just released an iPhone 5 adapter for its binoculars, creating professional hi-res photos and videos of whatever you’re observing in the distance – be that wildebeests migrating, a surfer negotiating an epic tube or the glistening Aurora Borealis.
The adapter is compatible with iPhone 5 and 5s, upping the ante on smartphone photography; the telephoto zoom lens makes a welcome change to the grainy zoomed-in pictures usually taken on a mobile phone.
Why: It may have been about 15 years since you last owned a pair of binoculars, but Swarovski’s latest travel gadget will make you hanker for one as an adult. That long-forgotten accessory, stuffed in a toy box at the age of 12 never to see the light of day again, has a whole new appeal now that you can Instagram your close-up shots.
Tip: be prepared for the price. While the Swarovski Optik adapter costs £113, it must be used with one of the firm’s own-brand binoculars. Swarovski Optik’s Nature Lover’s Binocular, the CL Companion, is £810, while its EL 32 is £1,570.
What: Whether backpacking, on a hen do in Dubrovnik or a romantic city break to Rome, Fujifilm’s analogue instant camera will create individual photos to either (regrettably) give away or pin on your wall at home.
It has a beautifully classic aesthetic, comes with a rechargeable batty, neck strap, and even has the ability to shoot in macro mode. Play with the bulb and double exposure features, too, to get the most from it.
Why: If there’s one thing the Noughties is guilty of, it’s pummelling instant cameras to the sidelines of the photography market. With film cameras and Polaroids knocked out the way we revelled in a barrage of swanky new digital cameras which gave us the opportunity to agonisingly re-take party pics we didn’t like. Fast forward 10 years and instant cameras are getting a look-in once again – thanks to apps such as Instagram reigniting our love for vintage-style snaps.
What: If you must take your iPad to the beach or swimming pool, at least make sure that it’s protected from the elements, or even dive in with it to take pictures of your morning’s snorkelling trip. Proporta’s BeachBuoy iPad case will keep a tablet as dry as a bone for up to 5m of water as well as making sure that no dirt, grit or sand gets into its nooks and crannies. (£24.99)
Why: How can H2O, which is so essential for human life and so refreshing to consume, simultaneously be the bane of our lives? Most of us have dropped at least one electronic device into water, resulting in frantic phone calls to a knowledgeable sibling and quick-fire Googling to find out if leaving it in a glass of rice really does dry it out.
What: There is a theory being bandied about that wearable tech may have had its day (a pretty short one if that’s the case), but not all is lost and not all wearable gadgets are pointless. Take GoPro, whose high-definition and all-weather cameras are mounted on everything from helmets to planes.
In a similar vein, Panasonic’s wearable camcorder removes the annoyance of wrist ache. Not only that but its latest addition, the HX-A500, shoots in super-duper 4K resolution – four times what current camcorders are able to do.
Why: It’s Ultra HD, can attach to your body, and leaves you free to document your adventures without even really thinking about it. Sony released a hand-held 4K camcorder earlier this year, making Panasonic’s wearable one a ‘world first,’ the firm says. The HX-A500 is so new that it’s not even out yet. It will retail at £379.99 and is available from May.