Talking Clocks, Floating Cups and Window Breakers
By Christa Romano
The following are reviews of travel products, some of which functioning well and were fun to use, others turned out to have dual purposes and one was even found to be almost useless. The functions are assessed and potential problems are addressed.
Whether you anticipate spilling your coffee on your suitcase, being trapped in a drowning car or not being able to wake up with the sunrise, hopefully these product reviews will answer some of your questions before you get a chance to ask them.
The Safety Stick by Safety Bright
The Safety Stick is a four-in-one beacon of hope, something that should be kept in the center console of every vehicle and in every travel emergency pack. Say you’re stuck on a deserted island: the Safety Stick will help. Say you’re trapped in a drowning car:
the Safety Stick could get you out and keep you alive.
This product looks like a small yellow flashlight, which does happen to be one of the four things you can use it for. As well as having a high-powered flashlight there is also a red LED light, which can be used simultaneously with the flashlight (think stranded on a deserted island again). The Safety Stick also has a discreet seatbelt cutter, glass breaker and an intense magnetic base.
The blade in the seatbelt cutter tool is surrounded by enough plastic to keep children’s fingers out of harm’s way, while still leaving enough space for the thin yet tough fabric of a seatbelt to fit through.
The glass breaker has a pointed tip that will only leave a hole or mark if it is smacked against a flat surface. (I didn’t test this feature. I wasn’t about to break my car window.)
The magnetic base adds lots of storage-practicality to the thing, being able to magnetically cling to literally any kind of metal- your car door, your refrigerator, your light switches… etc.
I like to keep one in my car just for peace of mind because who knows what kind of accident I’ll get myself into. At least I know the Safety Stick will be there!
The PowerPack, Portable Battery and Home Charger by Technoce
As someone who would lose my head if it weren’t attached to my shoulders, I truly have to appreciate the PowerPack. I could see myself using it if I couldn’t find one of my chargers and can especially see it coming in handy on long car rides.
You change the thing up when you are by an outlet or a computer and then when whatever it is you’re using starts dying, you plug it in to one of the 10 different shaped prongs to give it three extra hours of battery life. It fit all of my electronics and the package says that it is “compatible with 95 percent of all handheld USB devices;” not too shabby!
The PowerPack is small and lightweight so you can throw it in your purse, briefcase or carry-on to maximize the battery life of your phone, your mp3 player, your camera, your e-book, or whatever else is powered by a rechargeable battery.
The only problem I have with it is that all of the pieces are separated and need to be attached according to what device you are charging at the time. Like I said, I lose everything so knowing me, the one jack which fits my phone would disappear and then that would be the end of it.
But if you can keep track of your stuff and anticipate needing to charge something on the go, the PowerPack will be useful to you.
The reviveLITE by Scosche
This reviveLITE iPod charger is a favorite product of GoNOMAD’s editor in chief, Max Hartshorne. The reviveLITE is so easy to use and is so convenient. I wouldn’t be able to count how many times I’ve had to go without an iPod, because I forgot to charge it while I was by my computer. This handy little charger plugs right into any wall outlet so you can charge your iPod wherever there is electricity, not just where there is a computer.
Plus, it has got a nightlight — I’m not exactly sure why — but I guess it could come in handy if you need to charge your iPod in the pitch darkness. Either way, it would still be handy even without that added feature.
ILuv Micro Size USB Car Adapter
The iLuv is one of the most convenient chargers I’ve used, (and I’ve used a lot of different kinds of chargers) and is also another favorite of Max Hartshorne.
This iLuv will charge anything that can be plugged in via USB, so that includes your camera, your iPhone, your iPod, etc. all with one little cigarette lighter plug-in.
The only problem we encountered during our tests is that it sticks so far into the lighter it can be difficult to remove. The model they offer that has a longer stem and two USB ports is actually a more useful product of the two.
Sweet and simple, no need to say more, other than the fact that it also glows in the dark: pretty cool. I love it!
The Element from Desktop Solutions
The Element is an iPhone holder. It’s a small metal triangular stand on which you rest your iPhone so you don’t have to hold it up as you use it. It’s lightweight and comes in lots of different fun colors.
The Element definitely gets the job done- it held up my iPhone at an angle which made it easy to see and use the screen. If you honestly think that you need an object to do that job for you, I would recommend The Element.
However, I would be surprised if many people would think that.
If I need to use my iPhone I’ll hold it, which has never bothered me. The only time I can see this product being very useful is if I was on a plane ride and wanted to watch a movie on it.
Then again, I could probably find something else to put on the tray table to rest my iPhone on just as well. Also, The Element is not very compact. An extra unnecessary hunk of metal would never make the priority list of things to throw in my carry-on.
While I probably would never take The Element with me as an iPhone holder, I did actually find it functional as a book holder. It was helpful as I typed up an excerpt from a book because I needed to keep the book open to a certain page but needed my hands to type. It was a relatively small paperback though; any book that is deeper than two inches wouldn’t have fit.
Personally, I would have to deem this product as next-to-useless, however Max Hatshorne did just ask me to give back The Element which he asked me to review. He says it de-clutters his workspace.
Moshi Travel Alarm Clock
I was skeptical at first when I accidentally pressed the alarm on/off button just as I had put the first batteries into my new Moshi Travel
Alarm Clock. I didn’t realize it was voice activated until a female voice said to me, “Alarm is now off.” Her unexpected voice startled me so much that I dropped the thing. It landed on another button, which resulted in the same female voice, “Please say a command.”
Picking a random command from my head, I answered, “set time,” and she (the Moshi voice) asked me what time it was. I said, “set alarm,” and she asked me what time I would like to set my alarm to. She even asked me what alarm sound I would like!
Surprised at the ease at which I was learning to use the new piece of technology, I decided to be a little more daring with my commands.
Just to try it out, I pressed the command button and all I said was “What?” The Moshi proceeded to tell me “The alarm is set to, 9:00 AM. The alarm is on.” When all I said was, “How?” she went through a brief set of simple directions on how to use the alarm clock.
I think I’m in love. This thing is seriously impressive. Never have I encountered any voice-commanded technology that was so easy to use and understand and was actually enjoyable to talk to, (Moshi has a very pleasant voice).
You don’t need to plug the Moshi in; it’s lightweight, small and glows in the dark. Even if you don’t need a travel alarm clock, you can always use the Moshi as an imaginary friend! Just kidding, (kind of).
As a huge coffee-drinker/caffeine addict, this product definitely gets my kiss of approval.
The TuGo is a drink holder, which attaches to the pullout handles of practically any rolling luggage, keeping your everage suspended without spilling it. So you get a hands-free, worry-free way to transport your beverage with you while you travel. The TuGo folds up, barely weighs anything and easily and securely attaches to your suitcase.
You just clasp the “arms” around each side of the handle and your small to medium sized drink rests in the circular central cup-holder. When you tip your luggage, the TuGo tips the opposite way so your drink stays vertical and you can roll it behind you without having to worry about your precious beverage spilling out of the cup, onto you or your stuff.
Duracell Pocket USB Charger
Yet another external, rechargeable battery for all of your USB friendly devices: the Pocket Charger by Duracell works great.
The item is smaller than an iPhone so it fits easily into the pocket of your jeans. Just charge it up on your computer and plug it into whatever it is that needs to be charged for a few extra hours of battery life. It’s also super easy to use. It only has one button — an on/off button.
It’s also plain to see when it’s actually working because of the orange LED light that will glow on the front during a charge. Our testers had mixed luck with getting this to provide a decent charge to an iphone or Blackberry.
Depending on what you are charging, it’s good for about one complete charge to a typical cell phone. You can get about half a charge to a BlackBerry out of it if starting from zero and about 50 hours of charge to an iPod classic.
This would be a great product to take on a long plane ride if you plan on watching a movie or something and don’t have the means to charge your phone in the middle of it.
Christa Romano lives in Los Angeles and works in media.
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