Marc Saltzman, a leading
high-tech reporter, contributes
to more than three dozen
appears on radio and TV,
and is the author of
15 books. He’s on Twitter
Saltzman will answer selected
questions in this column.
He regrets that unpublished
questions cannot be
Please include “Marc Saltzman
Q&A” in the subject line.
Q&A with Marc Saltzman
The Costco Connection
P.O. Box 34088
Seattle, WA 98124-1088
MORE IN ARCHIVES
search “Tech Connection.”
THE COSTCO CONNECTION
Costco carries a complete
selection of electronics for
your road trips this spring and
summer in the warehouses
and online at Costco.com.
LUGGAGE? CHECK. Money and ID? Yep. Snacks?
On one hand, the necessities of a spring or summer road trip haven’t changed much over the years.
But overall, technology has made the travel experience better. GPS directions have replaced foldable
paper maps, there’s no need to stop to use a pay
phone when you’ve got a smartphone in the vehicle
and you save money on fuel, thanks to apps that
compare prices at gas stations. Perhaps best of all:
Tech toys can help reduce the dreaded “Are
we there yet?” from the back seat.
If you’re wondering what’s
new in travel companions to
keep kids (and spouses)
entertained, and perhaps a
couple of practical picks
too, consider one of the
tablet is a great tool for
your passengers on a
long car ride. They’re
thin and light, and enjoy a
long battery life of 10 to 12
hours, on average. Passengers can watch videos, play
games, read e-books, listen to music,
view photos and check social media feeds
if a signal is available.
See something you like on your adventures? Use
the tablet’s camera to capture the action.
While some tablets are as light as a magazine, a
small mount that secures the device to one of the
vehicle’s headrests is an ideal accessory, allowing
back-seat passengers to easily watch videos hands-free. Plus, many models let users adjust the tablet’s
orientation (portrait or landscape), as well as angle
it up or down (similar to TV mounting brackets).
While the device is secured to a headrest, passengers will still have access to the multi-touch display, controls and headphone jack. Be sure the
mount you choose works with your tablet’s specific
size, such as 7, 10 or 13 inches.
Unless you have an unlimited data plan, it’s not
cheap to stream movies and TV shows from services like Netflix or Hulu Plus over cellular connectivity. Instead, consider bringing along a wireless
thumb drive or portable hard drive.
Before your trip, connect this portable storage
device to your PC’s or Mac’s USB port; drag and
drop content, such as videos, music and photos,
over to it; and then unplug it and take it with you. In
the car, up to three people can access what they want
at the same time, wirelessly.
Dashcams for recreation and security
Once reserved for police vehicles and storm
chasers, dashboard cameras—dashcams, for short—
Dashcams are catching
on for two reasons: recreation and security. It’s fun
to capture your adventures, as you never
know what you’re
going to see, and then
you can play back the
video on a computer
On the security
side, dashcams can capture video evidence during an accident or incident.
Dashcams are usually set to
record in a loop, like other
Noise-canceling headphones are great to bring
along on long road trips as they can block out ambient noise. Active noise-canceling headphones
require battery power and have small microphones
that introduce inverse sound waves to negate
incoming sounds, thus canceling noise.
In-ear-style (using earbuds), passive noise-canceling headphones usually don’t require power.
They attempt to block noise by shutting out sound
waves. They can be less expensive than active noise-canceling models.
If you’ve got a number of devices in your vehicle—such as smartphones, tablets and dashcams—
you might consider bringing along a 12-volt (cigarette
lighter) charger to power them up using your vehicle’s
battery. Some have one or two USB ports to plug your
Alternatively, consider a portable backup battery that can juice up your devices, whenever and
wherever. The higher the milliampere hours
(mAh)—such as 10,000 mAh, as opposed to 3,000
mAh—the more times you can charge your smartphone and other tech toys before the battery needs
to be recharged. C
Hit the road
Essential gadgets for today’s trips