I recently spoke with representatives from the Department of State and an ethical hacker who specializes in compromising RFID devices about the technology that's baked into U.S. passports, how secure the information on them really is and whether folks need to worry about their personal information being stolen from one while they're traveling. What I discovered was fascinating. I won't get into it here, as I approach the topic at length over at AFAR.
If you don't know what a VPN is, you don't have one and you definitely should consider getting one. I won't go into the the details on how a Virtual Private Network works here. For that, you'll want to check out the VPN hub that I've been asked to curate for Macworld. The hub, which I'll be updating on an ongoing basis, details what a VPN is, what it isn't and why you might want to use one. More importantly, I go into detail on which ones deserves your hard earned money.
When I travel, I tend to keep my bags as light as possible. Doing so tends to make my trip more enjoyable as I'm not lugging around a massive suitcase with me everywhere I go and, when I return home, I don't need to worry about trying to fit tons of new junk I bought on my trip into our very limited amount of space as my carry on bag wouldn't have the room to keep trinkets in, in the first place. But not everyone thinks like me. A lot of folks prefer traveling with heavy, tightly packed suitcases so that they don't have to go with out all of their favorite things while they're on the road. On the way back, they'll have tons of space for mementos, too. But they have to be careful--if their suitcases wind up being heavier than their airline allows for, getting the bags on board a plane can get expensive, fast. In instances like this, it's good to have a reliable luggage scale with you, to ensure you know how much weight your schlepping around.
I recently tested a number of these scales for Reviewed.com, in an effort to find the best one. The data I collected showed that, objectively, there's no much difference between one scale and another. If they're weighing bags that are under 50 pounds, you'll get pretty similar results. Higher than this, and the weight will force the scale owner's arm to shake, as it's being strained, causing an inaccurate reading.
My pick for the best scale of 2018, costs around ten bucks. You can read all about it, here.
If you've never used packing cubes to help organize your clothing and sunderies for a business trip or getaway, you're in for a treat--they're like little suitcases for the inside of your suitcase! I've been using them for years to keep my clothes looking as good coming out of my suitcase as they did when they went in. You'll also find that when you use packing cube, it's a lot easier to locate what you're after in your bags, without having to rip everything apart first.
I spent a lot of time with a number of popular packing cube brands for USA Today and Reviewed.com to figure out which ones are best for the average traveler. If you'd like to know the answer, just follow this link.
Welp, it's out of the bag: I'm a Special Correspondent to AFAR Media now. I've been a fan of their well written travel oriented stories for some time now. As a full-time nomad, I'm thrilled to be able to add them to my list of clients.
My first piece for them focuses on travel watches. What's a travel watch? So far as I'm concerned, it's any timepiece that provides convenience to a traveler while they're on the road for work, exploring a new country or lounging at a resort. Interested? Sure you are. So, why not take a read.
Let's keep this simple. It costs close to the same amount of scratch as an Amazon Kindle Paperwhite does. But it's not as well built, lacks a number of features that the Paperwhite offers, can be slow at times, and can't match Amazon's content library. You don't want this thing.
For a more detailed explanation of why, check out my full review over at PC World.
The wonderful crew at Boing Boing have been kind enough to take me on as a guest blogger for February and a good chunk of March. A few days into my run, and I'm happy as a clam. It's such a change from the sort of work that I normally do. The real trick, right now, is finding ways to balance the schedule of gigs that I have with my regular employers with all of the goofy stuff I get to write about for Boing Boing. It's a really pleasant problem to have.
In my ongoing quest to review every set of truly wireless earphones under the sun for Macworld's Truly Wireless Headphone Hub, I spent a week with Jabra's Elite Sport earphones. While they suffer from problems associated with their weight and fit, their built in fitness tracking and health monitoring is truly top notch. If you don't mind the sound of a bit too much thump in your music (which is great for exercise headphones, but lousy for just about every other listening scenario,) they could be a great choice.
My review of these cans can be found here.
I've traveled to some sketchy places over the years. In fact, I've never set foot in a resort (although I plan to do so, one day, just for the experience.) While traveling for work and pleasure, I've picked up a number of tips for government contacts, friends in law enforcement and other paranoid types that I spend my time with on how best to protect yourself when traveling for work or pleasure. In my most recent work for USA Today/Reviewed.com, I've shared ten of these tips to help you stay safe and healthy, no matter where you roam.
I reviewed the Kobo Aura One in 2016. Large, a little heavy and waterproof, it was a different take on the luxury e-reading experience offered by Amazon with their Kindle Oasis. Flash forward to the tail end of 2017: Amazon has completely refreshed the Oasis with a new, larger display size, larger battery in an waterproof, aluminum package. Rakuten Kobo? They've made a big to-do about jamming 32GB of storage into a now two year old piece of hardware. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, I guess. Unfortunately, as much as I enjoy the Aura One, the Aura One Special Edition doesn't feel all that special and there's a few issues that I'd very like to see fixed with it.
For my full review, click here.
One of the best bits of my job as a journalist is that I get to play with hardware that I could never afford to buy. Take the B&O Beoplay M3, for example. It's expensive, looks beautiful--in a barely there at all Scandinavian way--and sound exquisite for a monaural Bluetooth speaker. As much as my life revolves around music, I could never live with myself if I bought one of these things. At $300, it costs too much when there are less expensive, almost as pleasing options out there that won't bleed my pocketbook dry. (Fact: I haven't bought a new speaker in close to four years. My old gear just keeps on keeping on. it's a great problem to have.)
If you, on the other hand, have the money and like pieces of industrial art that sound as good as they look, you'll want to check out my review of this fine piece of hardware.
It took me a while to get this one up and running, but here we are: Moving forward, I'll be taking care of all of Macworld's truly wireless headphone reviews. If you're looking for a new pair of cans, I'll be happy to serve you up my opinion on them, for better or worse, in the hopes of helping you to make a well-informed buying decision. This is an ongoing project (I have several new pairs of earbuds in testing as we speak, so be sure to check back in often.
If you're so inclined, you can check the hub out here.
Your hotel room? It's likely safe, but not secure. A lot of people have had access to it, through the use of lock picks, stolen keys, brute force or even as part of their role as hotel employees. In my latest piece for USA Today, I talk up nine pieces of gear that can help to increase your level of security while you're traveling.
In the coming weeks, count on a story from me about how to pick a safe room to stay in.
I hate it when I find expensive things that I adore. These earphones? They'd be one of those things. At $300, they cost more than I can afford to pay for much of anything these days. But man, do they sound sweet--especially for truly wireless headphones.
You can read my full review, here.
I love this beautiful, overbuilt thing. It's far too expensive and I don't care. It sounds like I mean buisness when I type on it and looks like I stole it from the set of Blade Runner. My pal Gadjo let me blather on about it over at his site, Canadian Reviewer.
In my latest feature for Reviewed.com (A USA Today joint,) I was asked to track down the best carry on luggage out there. For those who have reading my work for a while, you'll know that, to me at least, best does not always mean the most expensive. It's a fact you'll find reflected in this guide. I didn't test anything that costs more than $300. Most of the bags that I called in for testing can be had for well under $200.
As this guide will be updated, periodically, I won't talk about the winners here. But, if you're in the market for a new bag, you'll want to hit this link.
The Missus and I read, a lot. But, as we travel around in an RV, year-round, we don't have a ton of space for books. So there's a whole lotta of e-reader love in our household. I like to review them and I love to use them.
The size, build quality and the fact that I can use it in a hot tub make the All-New Kindle Oasis my favorite reading device of the moment. It shares a lot of the same design language with the 2016 Kindle Oasis, but in almost every way, this year's model has been changed for the better.
You can read my full review, here.
My iPhone 7 Plus is a great travel camera, especially with the addition of a few accessory lenses. My only complaint about using add-on glass with my smartphone is that it can be a pain in the ass to quickly find your lenses or know which one is which when they're stuffed into a traditional camera bag, pocket or backpack. Waterfield Designs seems to have solved this problem with the introduction of their pricey new iPhone Camera Bag. It's not perfect, but it's a significant improvement over every other solution for wrangling iPhone photography gear that I've found so far.
You can check out my review here.
What can I tell you: it's a small, weather-resistant Bluetooth speaker that sounds much better than it has a right to. I like it a lot. If you've got a need for a wee speaker that can churn out a big amount of noise, you can read my full review over at TechHive.
The writing of a product hub, like this one, is never complete. As new pieces or hardware come out, the writer responsible for wrangling them is forced to update the pecking order of which items are the best for which people, and explain why each is worth buying. Happily, I love reading, and as I live in a motorhome, I adore e-readers, for the amount of space savings that they afford.
While I'll still continue to evaluate other electronic reading devices on a case-by-case basis, my work on PC World's new Kindle hub will allow folks to quickly figure out which of one of the world's most popular e-readers is right for them. A week after the hub went live, I've already been hit with the need to update it: look for my take on the New Kindle Oasis this November.