The problem with my car is the fancy cup holders in the front have a spring-loaded "gate" to allow for monster-sized cups so I need to find some kind of insert to reduce the overall size so the mount fits. I suspect my car isn't the only one with this problem but I have to award the Satechi SCH-121 (currently priced at a very reasonable $39.99) a Gearhead score of 5 out of 5 anyway ... check your cup holders to make sure that there's a maximum hole diameter of 3.375 inches before you purchase.
I wound up taking the Bracketon Universal USB Power Dock Pro Flex (pictured at left), which plugs into what used to be the cigar lighter socket (now, it seems, referred to as a "12V port") and provides not only a pretty stable holder for smartphones but also a standard 5V, 1.5A USB power socket so you can keep your device charged.
The Bracketon Universal USB Power Dock Pro Flex is a solid, well-made product and priced at $34.95 gets a Gearhead rating of 5 out of 5.
Now I always take at least one digital SLR camera with me when I travel and I've never found a camera bag that's quite right. Just before this trip, Booq sent me one of the best I've come across so far: The Python courier bag (pictured at right), which has a water-repellent ballistic nylon exterior, is not only designed to store a DLSR in a rigid compartment with dividers for lens and accessories but also has an iPad pocket with a water-repellent zipper!
The camera compartment can also be removed so you have a simple messenger-style bag with a gazillion pockets (you still also have the iPad pocket). At $$179.95 the Booq Python courier is not cheap, but if you're lugging a pricey camera along with an iPad it's worth every cent and gets a Gearhead rating of 5 out of 5.
Just in case water might have been involved while hiking (OK, it was unlikely to rain in Sonoma but there might have been streams to boldly ford) I also took along a neat product to protect my iPhone and iPad: The Joy Factory BubbleShields for Tablets and Smartphones (pictured at left).
These are like reusable Ziploc bags for electronics and while you can't charge the devices or use any connectors while they are "bagged," you can still make calls, use the touchscreen and, with a little difficulty, press the buttons.
The bags are waterproof, dirt-proof, greaseproof, and don't show fingerprints. I have yet to really test one of these because while they are demonstrably splash-proof I somehow can't bring myself to stick my iPhone into one and plunge it into a sink full of water. I have tried putting tissue paper in and submerging a bag (no problems noted) but my iPhone ... just not happening.
A five-pack of BubbleShield for Smartphones and a three-pack of BubbleShield for Tablets are both priced at $19.95.
The Joy Factory also offers the BubbleShield PRO, a waterproof sleeve specifically made for the iPad for $49.95. All of the BubbleShield products get a Gearhead rating of 5 out of 5.
My final pick of gadgets I took on holiday was the Aviiq Portable Charging Station (pictured at right). When you're traveling you never need to charge just one device, you'll typically want to boost your smartphone, tablet, camera and music player all at the same time.
If that sounds like you, then you'll love the Portable Charging Station. The mesh nylon case includes an AC adapter that plugs into the USB hub that provides one data and power port as well as three power only ports. There are pockets for storing cables and devices and the whole thing zips up into one neat, manageable package that makes it easy to keep everything running.
The Aviiq Portable Charging Station is priced at $59.99 and gets a Gearhead rating of 5 out of 5.
So tell me, what travel apps and gadgets do you take on trips?
Gibbs is back home in Ventura, Calif. Your baggage to firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter (@quistuipater) and on Facebook (quistuipater).
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