As we head into 2022 with COVID-19 not quite in our rear-view mirror yet, many will choose to hop in their vehicles and staycation close to home again this winter. Whether you’re simply planning on visiting loved ones or checking out the next town over, here are the latest gadgets to bring along to ensure your journey is a little more enjoyable and productive at the same time.
Amazon Fire Kids Pro ($129 to $259)
Want to keep the little ones entertained in the car and/or at your destination? The answer may be the all-new Fire Kids Pro. Aimed at children ages 6 to 12 and coming in three sizes from 7 to 10 inches, the tablet bundles a lot of nice extras including a rugged case in different fun colours with integrated stand and handle; one-year subscription to Amazon Kids+ offering unlimited access to age-appropriate books, songs, movies, TV shows, educational programs and games; and a two-year warranty.
Fully-featured like the regular Fires, there’s a web browser containing intuitive settings to filter out mature sites, voice and video calling over Wi-Fi to previously-approved contacts who have an Echo or Alexa app, and a digital store allowing users to request youth-friendly apps that adults may then green-light the purchase or download of. In addition, built-in parental controls make monitoring and managing screen time and content a cinch, down to scheduling time limits for individual days of the week.
Ultimate Ears Boom 3 ($199)
Sipping some coffee outdoors at a rest stop or lounging around the hotel pool are two great excuses to break out the latest BOOM 3 Bluetooth speaker by portable audio specialist Ultimate Ears. The IP67 protection rating means encountering water and dust is no problem, and a connectivity range of 45 metres keeps devices linked over long distances – and, as a bonus, it even floats. The exterior is covered in a tough fabric also found on motorcycle jackets and fire equipment, and boasts a cool shimmering two-tone texture.
The innovative cylindrical design delivers clear, punchy sound in all directions. Pressing the big plus and minus buttons on the side changes the volume, and a neat Magic Button up top instantly plays, pauses, or skips current tracks on a paired phone. Or, download the Android or iOS Ultimate Ears app to enable one-touch access to Amazon Music or Spotify playlists. Similar to previous models, the PartyUp function permits the sync’ing of multiple speakers to create a surround sound experience.
Razer Kiyo Pro ($259)
More people work remotely than ever before, often having to be ready to hop on a quick Zoom call at the drop of a hat. The Razer Kiyo Pro prevents you showing up as a dark pixelated mess while on the road. Packing hardware usually associated with expensive security cameras, such as a large STARVIS sensor yielding crystal clear video even in low-light situations, the webcam is capable of running buttery smooth 1080p resolution at 60 frames per second, or in HDR 30 FPS mode to give colours extra pop and eliminate any over-and-under exposed areas.
The high-quality visuals should last a long time thanks to a scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla Glass 3 fitted wide-angle lens, resembling what’s used on smartphones. Download the proprietary Synapse 3 software to fine-tune various settings, such as selecting one of three field-of-view pre-sets and choosing the level of brightness and contrast. Inside the box, buyers will find a privacy cover, braided USB cable, and complimentary folding stand that screws into the tripod mount underneath and can attach to a monitor or sit on a tabletop.
INNOCN N1F-PRO ($309)
The transition from a dual or triple monitor setup at home or the office to a single laptop screen when out and about can be a challenging one. China-based electronics company INNOCN is presenting an affordable solution in the form of the plug-and-play N1F-PRO 15.6-inch external display. The ultra-slim 1080p IPS touchscreen – measuring only 0.24 inches thick and weighing less than two pounds – produces a sharp, vibrant viewing experience at virtually any angle and is easy on the eyes due to low blue light, flicker-free technology.
A pivoting kickstand allows 180-degrees of landscape adjustability, or prop it up in portrait orientation to read long emails or documents. On the side are a mini HDMI and two USB-C ports providing compatibility with most computers, phones and tablets, and all cords as well as an AC adapter are included (the latter not required for USB-C-enabled laptops) which is a nice touch. There are even onboard stereo speakers in case users want to hook up a video game console for some mobile entertainment.
Philips One by Sonicare ($34)
Say goodbye to packing basic manual toothbrushes in your luggage now that the Philips One by Sonicare is on the scene. The battery-operated device utilizes micro-vibrations and the brand’s trademark soft, contoured bristles to gently clean teeth, leaving your mouth feeling fresh. Just like the larger home versions, Quadpacer buzzes to signal when to move onto the next section of the mouth, and the two-minute SmarTimer guarantees the proper attention is spent every brushing session.
Sleek and lightweight with a matching travel case, it’s available in four bright hues: Miami orange, Mango yellow, Mint blue and Midnight blue. A single AAA battery powers the One up to three months, and note these replaceable Philips brush heads are unique to this model and aren’t interchangeable.
Benjamin Yong is a freelance writer from Vancouver, B.C. and a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC). Follow him on Twitter @b_yong.