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Latest gadgets ease the cruelty of travel

Keith Shaw | April 16, 2014
Luckily, gadget-makers understand the cruelty of travel, and are always creating new devices that help the mobile worker/road warrior ease the pain of a hotel room with few outlets, or expensive in-room Wi-Fi. Here are three gadgets I've recently tested that can help you on your next trip:

Some caveats: It's likely that you'll only be using this device as a travel router, as you probably already own a home router. You might want to use this as a wireless range extender if you don't yet have/need one of those, but then it could cause some worries if you then have to grab it for your next trip. If you really need a wireless range extender, the best bet is to buy a separate one. At least NETGEAR is giving users the option for the additional features, so it's hard to ding them too much for this.

Grade: 5 stars (out of five)

The scoop:Voyager Edge Bluetooth headset, by Plantronics, about $130.

What is it? The latest Bluetooth headset for mobile phone users, the Voyager Edge is smaller than the company's more professional Voyager headsets, yet maintains many of the modern features we expect to see these days in a headset. This includes voice instructions for pairing, a slider power button, and easy-to-reach buttons for call activation and volume control. The Voyager Edge also includes a carrying case that doubles as a power charger, so you can recharge the headset while keeping it in a laptop bag, purse or in your car. Lights on the charger indicate power levels for both the headset (when it's docked) and charger.

Why it's cool: I liked the smaller design — while I enjoyed using the company's Voyager Pro headsets (including the UC models for taking calls at work or using them for VoIP calls), I can see how the smaller version would appeal to people who are out and about more and don't want to constantly wear their headset. Pairing the headset to my phone (it supports iOS and Android) was simple — just put the headset on and listen to the instructions.

In addition to making voice calls with the headset, you can keep it on your ear and listen to streaming music or podcasts while you're commuting. I wouldn't use this while exercising — the fit inside the ear is pretty tight (it's designed that way to stay on your ear, with three ear loop sizes and a plastic hook for more stability). The comfort on the ear lasts for about the time of an average commute — after about 30 to 45 minutes, you'll want to take it off.

Some caveats: The Voyager Edge comes with a mini-USB charging cable and a car power adapter, but nothing that plugs into the wall — if you need to recharge the unit, you'll need to find a USB port or head to your car. It's not a huge deal, as most mobile workers will have one of those two options available, but I found it odd that a wall adapter was not included. Also, if you like using the plastic hook in order to get more stability on your ear, you have to detach it when recharging the unit via the docking charger, giving you a greater chance of either breaking the plastic hook, or losing it (like leaving it on your office desktop or home office).


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