Photos: Tech gadgets to make air travel time more productive
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Maximize your productivity in-flight
There are the in-flight basics: Mobile phone, laptop, tablet, eye mask, compression socks, your own pillow and blanket (seriously, don’t use the plane’s). Then again, there are finessed versions of these items, and other convenience gadgets you might not even know exist; all can help you to achieve your maximum productivity in flight.
What’s comfortable and conducive to working can vary from one pro to the next, so we’ve sought out items to suit those preoccupied with germs, those who must be as physically comfortable as possible, those who multitask with the tenacity they’d exert in their actual offices, those preoccupied with what’s going on at home, and those in-between.
You don’t have to be a germaphobe to know that an airplane tray and pocket could harbor communicable germs. You can wipe everything around you (tray, pocket, armrest, seatbelt buckle) with sanitizing wipes, but for another level of protection and peace of mind, Airplane Pockets is a sleeve that covers the seat’s tray table and also provides your own pocket (divided into three sections, so even more efficient than the airplanes single pocket).
Not only will your devices, specs, headphones, etc. be protected, it ensures you won’t leave items behind (because no one wants to deal with the airport lost and found). $23
Ionie Personal Air Purifier
A rep for Ionie said, “If a traveling business professional is being distracted by an unfriendly odor(s) this could definitely sidetrack from productivity. What promotes productivity like clean, fresh, deodorized air in your personal space?”
The worn-around-the-neck Ionie Personal Air Purifier is promoted as one of the most compact personal purifiers available, weighs 25 grams, but “puts out an ion generation of more than 18 million ions per second.” $48
Peak Design Tech Pouch
Even if you don’t dump your tech hardware willy-nilly into your carry-on, and use a random zippered bag, you still have to paw through that bag.
The Tech Pouch is compartmentalized for varying tech equipment. There are external elastic accessory loops, several divided spaces, a place for SD cards, small batteries and styluses. The external zip pocket has a cable pass-through for device charging and a waterproof 200D recycled nylon canvas shell. $60
You’ll have plenty of uses for this two-way translation device when you land at your international destination, but it’s a great way to communicate with a flight seat mate, if you don’t speak the same language.
It is designed for complete conversations, even in noisy environment and launched at CES2020. It features a touchscreen, two speakers, noise-cancelling dual microphones and a text-to-translate camera. The latter means that Pocketalk’s camera can “read” signs, menus and even handwritten text and translate. It also has a currency exchange feature.
Pocketalk can translate 74 different languages in more than 130 countries and regions, including localized dialects and slang. It can translate 55 voice bilaterally, 19 voice-to-text bilaterally, and up to 37 more obscure languages voice-to-text unilaterally. The camera recognizes and translates 55 languages. It saves past translations/conversations, which can be easily accessed.
It has a continuous translation time of 4.5 hours, a 2.5 day standby and charges in 105 minutes (USB type-C).
It cannot be used off-line and needs an internet connection through Wi-Fi, mobile data or personal hotspot. Complimentary two-year cellular data plan that provides coverage in more than 130 countries/regions. An embedded SIM is available in “eSIM”/data plan models. Weighs 2.6 oz. Available for pre-order for March shipping, $300.
Travis Touch Go
This two-way standalone translation device has a lower price point than the aforementioned Pocket talk, and offers 155 supported languages. It works both offline (ideal in-flight to befriend a fellow traveler) and online and the latest version was released in January 2020.
Navigate through a touch screen or voice commands , with one-second translations to translate what you say and the replies of the other person. The offline mode offers translations of short phrases and words. Features Bluetooth, noise cancellation and reps say the “optimized battery” lasts for a week of conventional usage, or 12 hours of continuous use. It has hotspot functionality to share an internet connection with up to 11 devices.
AI enhanced, the Travis Touch Go learns as you use it; the more you use it, the better it gets. No additional sim card (it’s embedded) or subscription required, and its currently offered with the language-learning add-on Travis Teacher ($99 value) for free. Available in black and white. Regular retail $249, currently available for $199
Epson WF-110 wireless mobile printer and ES-60W portable document scanner
Designed for business pros and frequent flyers, the WF-110 is a color mobile printer with battery charging options for USB or AC adapter. An optional external accessory battery gives greater print volume. $300
The ES-60W, a portable document scanner weighs less than a pound and can scan a single page in four seconds; scan documents and store for filing directly from a smartphone, laptop, or online storage account including Box, EverNote, Google Drive and more. On sale from Epson, $130, regular retail, $160
Maximize your underseat outlet with the Joule travel power strip, which provides extra power to charge devices. Use it at the airport while waiting for your flight to protect against “juice jacking” The illuminated outlets allow better visibility without having to awkwardly use your phone camera in selfie mode to see what’s going on with the plane’s outlets. Available in white, black and red. $55
Airhook from PeakDesign
View a PowerPoint presentation, or whatever you like on a phone or tablet. Secure your tablet for viewing and your laptop on the plane’s travel tray.
The Airhook is an in-flight device and drink holder. Last year’s introduction of a new model won 2019’s innovation award for best new design for a travel accessory at The Travel Good Show.
The universal holder hooks on a locked inflight tray and comes with a neoprene pouch. The new model can be used in first class, exit rows and can stand alone on any flat surface, and folds into the size of a wallet and stores in a little neoprene case, which is included. $25
Airhook has also added “The Crossbar,” which allows it to attach to a headrest or luggage handlebars. It folds into the size of a wallet and stores in a little neoprene case, which is included. $9.50
A portion of every sale is donated to Cancer Research.
SEE: LG Display to unveil latest displays for airplanes and automobiles at CES 2020 (TechRepublic)
Casio EDIFICE EQB 1000
Everything old is new again, what could be more cutting edge than ditching your square smartwatch for the smartphone-linked high spec chronograph and Bluetooth-enabled Casio Edifice EQB1000?
Plus, it just looks super cool—and if appearances count for confidence, it has to boost your in-flight productivity, right?
It’s also efficient and intuitive, as it “senses” what time zone you’re flying over and into (a sub-dial indicates a.m. or p.m.) The watch can access the correct time in its current location and for up to 300 cities worldwide with just a push of a button.
Additional features include (but are not limited to)
- Automatic time adjustment
- water resistance up to 100 meters,
- a 1/1000th second stopwatch
- 200 Lap memory
- daily alarm
- full auto calendar
- the “Super Illuminator” LED light
- temperature measurement
Even though the area of what’s considered “your” seat area is, unquestionably tiny, there are invariably ways to misplace your phone.
Southwest lost-and-found agent Robert Lehr told Budget Travel, “In terms of high value, probably the number one thing we see are cell phones.” This should come as no surprise to those who who travel infrequently.
But when you can’t find your phone, you just push a button on the EDIFICE to sound an alert on your phone. For this convenience alone, it’s worth it. $300
In-flight media holder by Lopong Corp
This holder clips onto the top of a shut airplane tray (or anything with a one-inch thickness) for hands-free viewing. It has a 360-degree rotate design, and is suitable to a device width up to 3.5-inches. Made of ABS, and clamps with a soft rubber which is anti-slide and protects against scratches. Weighs four ounces. $12
Fans of the Korean band BTS often see their idols off-stage, all sporting surgical-style face masks, apparently to ward off random ick–although osha.gov notes healthcare workers wear them specifically to prevent accidental splashes and spray. In regards to illness, it’s most effective if worn by a sick person to try to prevent others from getting sick, rather than staving off whatever plague is afoot.
In general, wearing this kind of mask is much more popular and common in Asia than in the US.
But, from the “it doesn’t hurt” files, MyAir, said reps, “is filtration mask that supports hydration, reduces jet lag, airborne pathogens, allergens & contaminants. The filter membranes reduce moisture loss by 88% (leading cause of jet lag), and block 99.997% of viruses, bacteria, allergens & contaminants down to 0.1 microns.” MyAir masks are available in 18 different fabrics, is reusable and washable. Replaceable filters are available. $23
Nomander Collapsible Water Bottle
Everyone needs to be hydrated (it’s critical in avoiding jet lag), and you seriously want to avoid the plane’s “tap” water. The Normander Collapsible Water Bottle works well for someone whose carry-on “real estate” is limited.
Sure, you can join the cool kids with a bulky (and weight-y) Hydroflask or the eco friendly Kleen Kanteen, but this roll-up, collapsible water bottle takes minimal space.
And, if you are indeed ecologically minded, it eliminates wasteful single-use water bottles. For starters, no one should be drinking airplane water. Instead, bring this handy bottle, go through security, and fill it up at one of the airport’s filtered-water stations. There’s a patented leakproof cap, a carry strap, and a wide-mouth for easy cleaning. Available in a variety of colors. $25
CrazyCap portable water purifier UV LED water purification bottle
Forget single-use water bottles, and, as noted earlier, for all that’s good and holy, forget the (tap) water on an airplane.
Instead, keep hydrated and your mind at rest, sipping clean water withES 2020: Why smart cities are relying on IoT sensors to conserve water CrazyCap UV LED water purification system. Tap the cap’s touch sensor twice for normal mode sterilization (tap water, public fountains) or five times for “Crazy Mode Sterilization,” for lake or pond water.
Available in seven colors, and weighs 12 oz. $69 for cap and bottle, $59 for cap only (which fits many cola-shaped water bottles)
SEE: CES 2020: Why smart cities are relying on IoT sensors to conserve water (TechRepublic)
You can’t work well when traveling if you’re the type preoccupied with what’s going on at home. The Canary Pro allows the user, via Wi-Fi, to monitor home, thus allowing a busy business person, even those inflight, to do a quick (or longer) check-in at home.
Canary has live HD video, 1080p HD camera, two-way talk (allows conversation with anyone in the home), temperature and air quality (built-in climate monitor).
Available in white or black and the price varies based on which plan is chosen. One plan provides the device (regular $169) free and $99 annually, for a two-year service, it’s $178.
It doesn’t matter if you’re in first, business or economy class, but it’s impossible to do any kind of dictation or voice-to-text inflight and have any privacy—or clarity, for that matter.
The Bloxvox works using AirPods or headphones; hold it over your mouth and speak normally and your voice is substantially blocked from people nearby, and if you use it (off the plane, of course) in a phone call, it’s clear to the other party. AirPods $30, headphones $25.
RAVPower portable laptop charger
This little unit, the Prime 20100mAh 65W Powerhouse can charge two devices at the same time and keeps gadgets safe from overcharge, short circuit and power surges with air vents for heat dissipation.
Supports charging for USB, Type C, and two-prong AC output for devices up to 50W.The 20,100mAh battery which can charge a MacBook, Surface Pro, Dell XPS, 13, iPhone 11 and X, Galaxy S9, Note 8.. Five LED lights indicate remaining battery power. Recharges in 3.5 hours. $80; 27000mAh 85W, $129.
Advertised in its Amazon listing as a travel shelf, SpAIRTray adds 33% more space for those in airplane window seats (it slides into the window-shade track), and has a bit of grippy-ness to tackle very minor turbulence. $25
Like the previous item, BevLedge also fits in the window-shade track. It holds beverages, phones, and specs. It folds flat to fit in a laptop case or carry-on bag. Also sold as a two- and four- pack (which necessitates everyone flying in your party to be at a window seat, and not seated together. Then again, a little space can make things very productive. $15
If you’re prone to motion sickness, you want to avoid it at all costs. Feeling queasy above the clouds is even worse than on the road, given the fishbowl nature of airplane seating, and the thought that the bathroom(s) will be “occupied” and not “vacant” when you need to rush for it. But you’re not alone, even flight crew have experienced motion sickness.
FDA-cleared and drug-free Reliefband apparently stimulates a nerve which sends relief signals to the brain and stomach, alleviating nausea by restoring the body’s natural gastric rhythms. It comes with included conductivity gel to rub on your wrist before putting on the band, and it’s worn with the face on the underside of the wrist.
Unlike old-school Dramamine, It doesn’t make you drowsy, you can consume alcohol while wearing it, and, it’s safe to use with medication. $100 Reliefband Classic (seen in photo above), $200 Reliefband Premier, available in two colors, charcoal and denim blue.
Nuheara IQbuds2 MAX
It seems that no matter how high you crank up the volume on your headset, the rumbling of the plane never gets drowned out.
If you’re working inflight, it can get distracting, even irritating.These much-awarded earbuds, Nuheara IQbuds2 MAX, which launched at CES2020, feature the ANC-enhanced “Hybrid Active Noise Cancellation+ and Ear ID personalization” which means it automatically calibrates the buds to each person’s unique hearing profile (using Nuheara’s EarID).
A proprietary digital signal processing system (“Speech in Noise Control”/SINC, and a triple-core DSO system) senses sound with the plane’s environment, and sorts out the sounds, including cancellation—high-tech noise-cancelling. Each earbud has a 450MIPS signal processing engine.
Basic features: Bluetooth, phone calls, music and entertainment streaming, tap-touch interface, on-ear DSP, voice services (Siri, Google Now), and a charge case. Hearing features: hearing amplification, SINC, EarID, Focus.
There are three sensors which include three microphones per ear, an accelerometer, and an on/off body sensor. Noise-blocking features include “world on/off,” passive as well as active noise cancellation the latter is a proprietary hybrid. Water and sweat-resistant. Available for pre-order, March 2020 shipping, $319 (20% off through Feb. 9, 2020) $399.
Inflight, you can’t avail of the FosPower’s PowerActive‘s ability to withstand water submersion up to one meter in depth for 30 minutes (or, you better hope you don’t).
Still, It has 10200mAh, a 2.1A output and a 2A input, LED light, compass and a carabineer. That said, if your destination is wet or snowy or the terrain ahead is rough, this will get you through the flight and power whatever work you need to do in flight. $30
Airplane seat belt extender
Even if it’s a quick jaunt on a puddle jumper, no one wants to feel uncomfortable, tightly strapped in an airline seat.
This extender (7″ to 32″) claims to fit all airline seat belts, with the exception of Southwest. It is designed for a Type A seat belt, which manufacturers say is the global standard. While you can ask a flight attendant for one (this was news to us), why not have your own, which can tucked into your bag and used surreptitiously? $10
Soarigami Airplane Portable Armrest Extender/Divider
In order to be productive, you have to be comfortable, and not preoccupied with the invariable elbow wrestling with a seat mate.
The Soarigami promotes a collegial sharing, as it clamps onto your seat armrest to provide you and your neighbor your own space (with a divider in between).
Adjustable, it works on armrests from 1.5-inches to at least 2.75-inches in width. The tapered wings don’t cut into your side (insider tip: install the device “reverse”). It folds flat, and is lightweight, at 8 oz. Using the screws, Soarigami can be adjusted to fit a range of armrests. Rubberized silicone molding on the underside creates a grip on existing armrests, to stablize it. Armrest covers are removable for hand washing. $20
Cushion Lab Travel Pillow
You’ll seriously curb your productivity if you’re tired. The Cushion Lab Pillow, winner of best travel pillow of 2019 award by SmarterTravel, which compresses to half its size can be an effective way to catnap and awake refreshed to work inflight. $26
For military-grade file security, this 256-bit encrypted flash drive is dust and water resistant, has a tough epoxy coating, and fits on a key ring or in a pocket.
“The main difference between our USB encryption, is it keeps your data safe,” said Michael Vanoverbeke of SecureData said of the Secure USB BT, a CES2019 innovation awards honoree. “It connects to any Android or Apple phone or tablet through the SecureData Lock App. It connects via bluetooth, so no problem when the mobile device is in airplane mode. You can use either a password, or TouchID/FaceID to unlock the drive.” 16 GB $119, 32 GB $159, 64 GB $189
ESR foldable wireless charger
If you want to ensure complete security, experts recommend you use your own charger (as opposed to the one under your airplane seat). ESR foldable wireless charger supports horizontal and vertical charging. It can handle some turbulence, as it has a non-slip pad for stability in stand and pad mode. $26
You may not be someone who pats themselves down and panics when they can’t find specs. One of the easiest items to forget to bring or lose, readers are a necessary challenge for most.
ThinOptics are designed to bend without breaking, fold to about 2-3 inches, and come with a universal case that attaches to your phone or any hard, flat surface. Available in strengths of 1.0, 1.5, 2.0, and 2.5 $15 to $30 (based on the type of case).
Airplane Footrest by Beskar
Even more the tray-in-the-plane-window-shade or a flex-pad device holder, there are an abundance of different kinds of sling-style footrests designed for in-flight comfort.
Beskar said the Beskar Footrest, with thickened memory foam, supports legs and lower back, provides more stability in the hammock design. Apparent foot/ankle clashing is a real thing, and a real problem with some footrests.
It’s hung on the tray (open or closed) and the armrests (hopefully you’ll have an amenable seat partner … which is not always the case). Comes with a 24-month warranty. $19
Grid-It by Cocoon
When you’re cramped into a small seat, it’s not easy to move around, scrambling to get to different pockets in your undersea bag. Grid-It features a system of elastic bands to keep things secure in one place. At TSA, the grid can be pulled out in entirety and put on a tray to go through the security machine. Available in several sizes, from $7 to $27.50.
NTONPOWER Travel Power Strip Mini
Designed for a plane seat, hotel nightstand and cruise ship cabin, the NTONPOWER Travel Power Strip Mini features three USB, two outlets and a 15″ wrapped short extension cord. Available in black or white, $18
SEE: Handy hardware for the home office (ZDNet)
There are several similarly-styled universal phone and table stands available. The description said Flex Flap was designed by a flight attendant.
It attaches to the top of a closed airplane tray. Made of black leather and aluminum alloy core. In its “flat form” it slides into your laptop case, briefcase or pocketbook. It even turns into a “hook” in which you hang your briefcase or bag off the ground. $10
SEE: Business pro’s guide to hassle-free travel (free PDF) (TechRepublic)