6 tried and tested travel accessories from my latest trip

My last trip was an expedition with Land Rover, travelling across Nepal and into India in the new Range Rover Hybrid that is due out next year. All that has already been documented on this blog, but it also served as an opportunity to try out a number of products that I hadn’t previously tested, so here is a round-up of items used on the trip.

ASUS Zenbook Prime UX31A laptop

I can’t speak highly enough of the latest Zenbook Prime laptop from ASUS.  Complete with a third generation Core i7 Intel processor and 4GB of RAM, it’s the ideal travel companion for a number of reasons. The key features for me are that it’s lightweight and the screen quality is excellent. In particular, I liked the fact that the display is easy to view outdoors, even in relatively bright conditions.  The battery life is also perfectly acceptable and can be extended of course if you choose to dim the screen brightness. This is a good alternative for anyone considering a PC instead of a Macbook Air.

ASUS Zenbook Prime

Ranger rucksack laptop backpack

Of course, with a new laptop, I also needed something to carry it in, and the medium-sized ranger rucksack laptop backpack from STM fit the bill perfectly. It could carry not only the laptop, but also has an external organiser pocket for other accessories such as power cable, USB mouse, chargers, camera equipment and more. It’s a good size and made of a quality, water-resistant and durable material.

STM backpack

mophie powerstation

My mophie powerstation external battery charger proved to be invaluable on this trip. I was using one or two battery-hungry apps on my iPhone so to be able to re-charge whilst still on the move was really useful. I would estimate that, when fully charged, it could power up my iPhone twice, and maybe even have a bit of juice still left over. What’s more, it’s really compact and light so wasn’t any trouble to carry around.

mophie battery charger

Atop world watch

The Atop world watch from BYTime Ltd. is a useful watch if you travel regularly as you can quickly turn the bezel to adjust for your new timezone. Some places in the world, however – including Nepal and India – follow non-standard timezones and adjusting for these isn’t quite as simple.  Instead, you need to make an adjustment on the back of the watch, for which there is a ‘key’ provided. Did you know that Nepal is just one of two timezones in the world that is 45 minutes ahead or 15 minutes behind the standard timezones used in the rest of the world?

 

atop watch

Postagram

This a neat little app available for the iPhone and Android. It’s simple to use – you just take a photograph on your phone of the scene you wish to turn into a postcard – a real postcard, not an e-postcard. You then type your message, say who you wish to send it to, submit and they attend to the rest. It took slightly longer for the postcards to arrive than the 5 days specified, but it worked nicely, was a bit quicker than posting a postcard from overseas would have been, and was more personal since the pictures were taken by me. A nice little idea and well worth a try.

Postagram

SwannSmart home surveillence camera

I trialled this home surveillance camera from Swann and was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to set up. Within about 20 minutes of opening the box, I was able to pull up images from the camera on my iPhone and see what the camera was seeing in real time, thanks to the free SwannSmart app. It performs well in low light conditions also, thanks to 8 infrared LEDs, and you can, if you wish, pay for a secure cloud service in order to capture events. A useful tool if you want to keep tabs on your home or place of work whilst you are away.

SwannSmart

Comments (9)

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  1. Jay says:

    Good choices! Although I would prefer to bring my iPad more than my laptop, it’s a much easier thing to store and use during trips while having almost every feature that a laptop has.

    Mophies battery, good choice! :)

  2. Hannah says:

    Nice! We definitely love the watch you posted here. Awesome gift idea for my husband! Is Asus really a good brand? Had a problem with our laptop when we started out our RTW, and we had to reinstall everything. What a hassle.

  3. Kev says:

    Thanks for a great list of must have items Paul.
    I always worry about the durability of these super lightweight notebooks when travelling. Sure they have that essential lightweight bonus, but I wonder how robust their casings and screens would be if handled in that normal ‘travel’ kind of way?
    Would they take a rough Journey or would they fall to pieces mid vacation?

  4. Paul Johnson says:

    Hi Hannah… like many computer brands, ASUS (not to be confused with Acer by the way – I’ve had a couple of those over the years and not been too impressed) do more affordable versions of their products which are, of course, not as good. But the Zenbook has received lots of praise and a number of awards. Here’s their latest press release which, among other items, singles out the Zenbook:

    ASUS Receives Top Honors at the Prestigious Good Design Awards 2013

    Taipei, Taiwan (30 October, 2013) — ASUS products earned 10 awards for excellence in design and engineering at the Good Design Awards 2013 held in Tokyo, Japan, emphasizing ASUS’s continued commitment to its “In Search of the Incredible” brand promise.

    The ASUS Zenbook received special recognition, selected by the panel of 66 industry experts for inclusion in the Good Design Best 100 list. The Zenbook scored highest in the categories of Humanity, Honesty, Innovation, Aesthetics, and Ethics.

    The finely-crafted ASUS Zenbook houses a powerful Intel® Core™ processor, fast SSD storage and a capacitive multi-touch display with up to WQHD resolution in an ultra-light aluminum case that tapers to a mere 3mm. The Zenbook delivers a luxurious feel, courtesy of a unique ‘spun metal’ finish that is a result of a meticulous 32-step manufacturing process. The latest iteration, UX301/302, takes things further with a sleek layer of tough Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3.

    Other award-winning ASUS products include the N Series Notebook, Transformer Book Trio, ROG Maximus VI Formula Z87 ATX gaming motherboard, the TUF Series Sabertooth Z87 ATX motherboard, the Gryphon Z87 micro-ATX motherboard, the ASUS Transformer AiO; VivoMouse and VivoPC, and VariDrive.

    The Good Design Awards, organized by the Japan Institute of Design Promotion (JDP), is now in its 56th year and this year it received 3,400 entries from around the world. It is one of the four major design awards recognized by the International Design Alliance.

    2013 Good Design Award-winning products

    Notebooks

    The N Series notebook features an elegant design made out of light and durable aluminum, with an intricate ripple-like speaker mesh. This multimedia powerhouse features SonicMaster Premium-enhanced audio and quad-speaker arrays that deliver rich surround sound, wide-view angle Full HD displays, 4th generation Intel Core processors and NVIDIA GeForce gaming-grade graphics hardware.

    The ASUS Transformer Book Trio is a laptop, tablet and a desktop PC in one ultraportable device. With the ability to switch between Windows 8 and Android at the press of a button, Transformer Book Trio offers unmatched three-in-one flexibility for users who want the best of all mobile worlds for work or play. It is powered by an Intel Core processor in Windows 8 laptop mode, but the detachable 11.6-inch display also features its own Intel Atom processor. The PC Station dock can also be used as a Windows 8 desktop PC with an external monitor.

    Motherboards

    Ready for the latest 4th generation Intel Core processors, the Intel Z87-based ROG Maximus VI Formula gaming motherboard features CrossChill hybrid cooling technology for up to 23°C lower temperatures in the MOSFET area. In addition, it has 120dB signal-to-noise ratio SupremeFX Formula audio, heat-dissipating ROG Armor and mPCIe Combo II with 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.

    ASUS TUF Series Sabertooth Z87 ATX and Gryphon Z87 micro-ATX motherboards use exclusive thermal designs to enhance cooling, stability, and reliability. These motherboards have passed military component and server-grade system operation tests and come with features that include TUF Fortifier, Thermal Armor and Dust Defender.

    Home PCs and accessories

    ASUS Transformer AiO is the world’s first All-in-One PC with a detachable display that doubles as a standalone tablet. It provides the productivity and entertainment capabilities of both these devices with switchable dual OS comprising of Windows 8 and Android. The 18.4-inch Full HD IPS display delivers brilliant images with 178-degree wide viewing angles for easy viewing with friends and family. It weighs just 2.4kg, has an internal battery, and is designed to be easily carried and used around the house. ASUS SonicMaster audio technology ensures an immersive listening experience with music, movies and everything in between.

    The VivoMouse is the world’s first mouse that also acts as a touchpad and wireless remote for PCs, offering customers greater choice of input method. The VivoPC delivers high-quality sound with exclusive SonicMaster audio and accelerated connectivity thanks to new generation 802.11ac Wi-Fi. The modestly-sized VivoPC uses an eye-catching spun-metal finish.

    The eye-catching VariDrive marries an upright slot-loading DVD reader/writer with an expansion dock that provides USB 3.0, HDMI, VGA and Ethernet ports.

    ABOUT ASUS

    ASUS is a worldwide top-three consumer notebook vendor and maker of the world’s best-selling, most award-winning, motherboards. A leading enterprise in the new digital era, ASUS designs and manufactures products that perfectly meet the needs of today’s digital home and office, with a broad portfolio that includes motherboards, graphics cards, optical drives, displays, desktop and all-in-one PCs, notebooks, netbooks, servers, multimedia devices, wireless solutions, networking devices, tablets and smartphones. Driven by innovation and committed to quality, ASUS won 4,168 awards in 2012 and is widely credited with revolutionizing the PC industry with its Eee PC™. ASUS has more than 12,500 employees around the globe with a world-class R&D team of 3,800 engineers. Company revenue for 2012 was approximately US$14 billion.

  5. Paul Johnson says:

    Hi Kev… the Zenbook comes with a sleeve and I’ve found this sufficient for my needs. If you were concerned, though, and wanted something that offered more padding, there are lots of possibilities out there…

  6. Paul Johnson says:

    Hi Jay… the iPad doesn’t really do it for me. It’s great for some tasks ut I type a lot and, whilst I’m aware that you can get a separate keyboard for the iPad, I haven’t found one as good. I also do quite a bit of graphics editing and (again, I’m aware there are some apps out there) find this easier on a laptop also…

  7. Mary Norton says:

    I prefer carrying my MacAir rather than my iPad when I am on short trips. It can do so much more for and it is just as light and also easily fit in my purse. I can easily edit documents I need for my work. Just can’t do away with my Kindle as I like reading from it.

  8. Paul Johnson says:

    I believe the ASUS Zenbook Prime is sometimes likened to the MacAir (but obviously it’s a PC rather than a Mac…)

  9. Erika says:

    Thanks for the tip about Postagram, I’m traveling and I will use it for sure, I think this app.will please even to my daughters.
    To you soon

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