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10 suitcase-friendly gifts for frequent flyers – TechCrunch

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Welcome to TechCrunch’s 2018 Holiday Gift Guide! Need more gift ideas? Check out our Gift Guide Hub.

I’ve been traveling a lot this year — more than any year in the past. It’s been both a blessing and a curse, so thanks, TechCrunch, for that. Honestly, I should probably be packing for Asia instead of writing this, but I’m looking out for you instead.

Rather than writing the standard Travel Guide or Holiday Gift Guide, we’ve opted to combine them into one. Because if there’s one key to making the most out of your time on the road, it’s efficiency. Technology can play an important role in helping streamline the packing process and generally making the most out of your trip.

Of course, as with everything, too much tech can also be a bad thing. I know I’ve found myself packing too many gadgets or jamming a messy rat king of cables in my carry-on, making a mess of things in the process.

What follows is a collection of gadgets, accessories and other products designed to remove some of the biggest pain points from travel and help you make the most of your trip, whether overnight or longer.

Amazon Kindle Oasis

Okay, maybe including a Kindle on here is a bit of a cheat, but very few devices have improved my travel life like an e-reader — and the Oasis is currently the nicest one you can get. It wasn’t all that long ago I used to jam several paperbacks into my carry-on. I do miss the tactility of real books from time to time, but when it comes to traveling, nothing beats the ability to jam thousands of books into a seat-back pocket.

Price: $249-$279
Available from: Amazon


Anker 40W 4-Port USB Wall Charger

A lot of modern hotels are getting better about USB ports. I recently found myself staying at one in LA where every single link had a place for me to charge my iPhone. But it’s still a crapshoot — especially when traveling to a strange city — and hey, if you can avoid plugging your personal devices into a strange port, all the better.

I started traveling with my own combo mini power strip/USB hub years ago, but Anker’s 40W 4-Port USB Wall Charger is a much more compact solution, bringing four USB ports directly to the wall. Best of all, like all of Anker’s products, it’s dirt cheap.

Price: $26
Available from: Amazon


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BUBM Cable Bag

I’ve tried a LOT of cable organizers in my many years of gadget blogging. It’s the only thing that keeps my travel bag from turning into the Indiana Jones snake pit. At the end of the day, all of them ultimately suffer the same compromise: you can either have a lot of compartments for your various tech doodads or you can free up more space in your bag.

Ultimately, I tend to side with the latter. Especially when it comes to carry ons, anything you can do to free up space is a net positive. Lately, I’ve been digging this one from BUBM. It looks snazzy and the fold-over design helps free up precious bag real estate.

Price: $12
Available from: Amazon


Calm Subscription

This is one is admittedly an odd choice. Sure there are plenty of travel-specific apps out there, but when it comes to helping tamp down the stress associated with travel, the Calm app is a good place to start. This is coming for a very anxious flyer, mind you. It’s not a fear of flying — that part’s fine. It’s everything else. From the getting to the airport to the endless lines to the $3 airport water to the occasional middle seat.

I’m also, not coincidentally, an anxious meditator. I’ve tried a LOT of different apps to pursue mindfulness on my smartphone, and Calm is far and away the one I like the best. The guided meditation sessions are terrific and ditto for the the more freeform ones. It’s also a great way to get your bearings after waking up in a hotel room in some unknown city.

A year’s subscription runs $60, which is a small price to pay for peace of mind.

Price: $60
Available from: Calm


Harman Kardon Traveler Speaker

This one admittedly feels like more of a luxury than many of the others, but don’t underestimate how much a small Bluetooth speaker can improve hotel time. The vast majority of laptops have pretty terrible built-in speakers and even middling Bluetooth speakers are a major improvement.

Harman Kardon’s Traveler fits the bill and won’t add much size or weight to a carry on. It also has a built-in mic for teleconference — a definite bonus for work trips — and doubles as a power bank for charging up devices. The 2,500mAh battery isn’t much, but on the road, every little bit of juice counts.

Price: $150
Available from: Harman Kardon


HyperDrive USB-C Hub Attach

I travel with a LOT of gadgets. It’s kind of my job. As such, you’re no doubt catching onto the fact that lack of charging ports is a consistent theme in all of this. HyperDrive USB-C Hub Attach is a clever take on TwelveSouth’s iconic PlugBug that brings USB ports directly to the MacBook’s charging brick. Here, however, you’ve got the decided bonus of a third active USB-C port for data transfer. At $50 for the larger version, it’s also priced to match TwelveSouth’s offering.
Price: $50
Available from: HYPER


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Luna Display

As I noted in my write up last month, the Luna Display isn’t for everyone, but those who need it will find it to be a downright lifesaver. Once this thumbnail-sized $80 device plugs into a MacBook, it connects to a nearby iPad over Wi-Fi, converting the tablet into a second screen.

I’ve been using the hell out of it every time I’ve found myself working from the road or at home. I’ve become entirely dependent on my monitor at work, and now find myself being the guy with both a laptop and tablet out on the table at the coffee shop. Totally worth it for the ability to monitor my RSS feeds while working on a story.

Price: $80
Available from: Luna


RAVPower Wireless Portable Charger

Powerbanks are a dime a dozen these days, but RavPower is making some of the cleverest ones out there. It’s tough to narrow them all down, but this one lands on my list for its inclusion of a Qi charging pad that lets users wirelessly charge compatible handsets on top of the brick.

Keep in mind, some airlines and airports are limiting the size of batteries that can be stowed in a bag, so if the person you’re buying for is a frequent visitor to, say, China, double check the limits — though this 10400mAh battery should be fine in most cases.

Price: $50
Available from: Amazon


Timbuk2 Never Check Expandable Backpack

I always thought I’d outgrow backpacks, but aside from a brief flirtation with the messenger bag in the aughts, I’m rarely seen without one. Of course, no two are the same, and if there’s a frequent traveler in your life, a solid backpack makes all the difference in the world.

Timbuk2 makes some truly terrific bags, and the Never Check certainly fits the bill. It has a spacious interior for clothes, shoes and anything else needed for an overnight trip, while maintaining a small enough footprint to be stashed in an overhead bin or under the seat in of you.

Price: $200
Available from: Timbuk2


Twelve South AirFly

This is one of those travel concerns that doesn’t really dawn on you until you’re face to face with it. Love your Bluetooth earbuds? Great. But good luck listening to the movie on your flight. Twelve South, in all of its infinite wisdom, has designed a small wireless transmitter that plugs into headphone jacks, so you can use your go to headphones with the seat-back entertainment system. Turns out it also comes in handy for the TVs at the hotel gym.

The biggest downside here is pricing — $30 doesn’t seem like much, but you can grab a pair of wired headphones for pretty cheap these days.

Price: $30
Available from: Amazon

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The 10 Best Aftermarket Parts For Your Ford Bronco

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For those unfamiliar with the tools of the great outdoors, a winch is a device that employs a spool, a length of cable, usually steel braided, and a hook of some kind to aid in several tasks. The most common use of a winch on a 4X4 is to help it get out of a stuck situation. Should your Bronco get mired in mud or fail to overcome a big rock, letting out the winch cable and hooking it onto something solid, like a stout tree, enables the winch to pull it to freedom.

Winches come with various levels of power and cable types and can be installed in various locations. For the purposes of an offroad Bronco, the front bumper is ideal. Not only can it get itself out of a sticky situation, but you can also help a friend by pulling them to safety. Winches can also be set to task as tools. In an emergency, for example, a winch can help to remove a fallen limb somewhere or to drag a heavy object from a body of water.

The Drive notes that winches can be electric, which is handy as the Bronco comes with auxiliary switches for accessories, or hydraulic, running off a power steering pump. Cost ranges from around $350 to $900 and some of the most popular brands are Warn and Superwinch.

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Here’s Why You Need To Stop Using Internet Explorer Immediately

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Why should you change web browsers now that Internet Explorer is at its final end? It all comes down to security. Internet Explorer is about to become inarguably insecure software, with a security level that grows ever weaker from this point forward.

Web browsers are regularly updated with new security measures and fixes to potential exploits that could allow an outside party to do all sorts of unpleasant things to your system. Stealing personal information, acquiring credit card or bank account numbers, learning passwords to one or more of your various online services, that kind of thing. Keeping your browser up-to-date reduces the risk of being compromised, and can often remove weaknesses you may not have even known were there.

By continuing to use a web browser after support has been halted, you’re leaving yourself vulnerable to attacks from cagey web links, spam emails, and so on. With no more updates on the horizon, any exploits found from here on out will never be patched up — and you probably won’t even be made aware of them since nobody is maintaining the software anymore. The longer you wait to switch to a new browser, the greater the risk.

Dropped web browser support also means non-security updates are also off the table. No more new features, no eventual improvements to clunky design, and perhaps most importantly: no compatibility updates. At some point, certain basic features just won’t work with an outdated browser anymore. Like it or not, Internet Explorer’s time is up — for real, this time.

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Sony LinkBuds S Promise ANC And All-Day Comfort

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Even though Sony suggests LinkBuds S are the smallest in-ear wireless headphones, they have still managed to cram in reasonably sized 5mm drivers. For comparison, this is only slightly smaller than the 6mm drivers used on the WF-1000XM4.

The product also gets Sony’s Integrated Processor V1 — the same chip we saw on the recently launched Sony WH-1000XM5. This chip claims to improve the overall sound quality of the product by reducing distortion and improving noise cancelation. Sony LinkBuds S earbuds also support “High-Resolution Audio Wireless” with LDAC as well as an autoplay feature that activates the moment users place the buds in their ears.

Sony’s latest earbuds claim a battery life of up to six hours, with the supplied charging case further enhancing the playback time to 14 hours. When completely discharged, the LinkBuds S can be charged for five minutes to get an additional 60 minutes of playback time.

Another interesting feature on the LinkBuds S is support for the Niantic AR game “Ingress.” Sony says LinkBuds S earbuds use sensor and spatial sound technology to combine a great visual and sonic experience. It’s also suggested by Niantic that further integration with their Lightship platform should allow expanded functionality with LinkBuds earbuds soon.

Sony’s LinkBuds S earbuds go on sale starting May 20, 2022, and come in two color options, White and Black, with a suggested retail price of 199.99. They will be available via Sony.com, Amazon, and other authorized dealers. A third color option called “Ecru” is also set to be available as an exclusive release from Best Buy.

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