Whether you’re going from classroom to classroom or time zone to time zone, traveling with fewer, smarter, and smaller devices is definitely the way to go. That’s why we love the multipurpose, multitasking gadgets we’ve rounded up below. Each of them packs plenty of style and substance. So they can help you get the job done—or just kick back and relax—on the quad or out on vacation.
1. Logitech Solar Keyboard Folio for iPad
Why We Like It: Built for the latest two iPad iterations, this protective folio features a keyboard that’s powered by indoor or outdoor light. Once charged, you can type away for hours—even when the cabin lights have been completely dimmed. Or tilt the screen over the keyboard, sit back and view a movie. It’s got handy media buttons to play, pause, or change the volume. And when you’re ready to put your tablet to sleep, just close the case. (Then expose the solar panel to any direct or ambient light to charge it.)
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How Much: $130
Buy It: Visit Logitech.com.
2. Google Nexus 7
Why We Like It: This slick new Asus tablet comes with all sorts of bells and whistles. Since it’s loaded with the very latest Android operating system (a.k.a. "Jelly Bean"), it’s designed to excel at all things Google (browsing, mail, apps, YouTube, and video chat). But this 7-incher’s portability makes it a great choice for all your media, including books, magazines, HD movies, and your entire music collection (uploaded to Google Play and available through the cloud). When you’re not enjoying all that entertainment, it boasts weeks of standby time. And given its sub-$200 price tag, this petite but powerful device is perfect for slipping into your purse, cargo pocket, backpack, or carry-on.
How Much: $199-$249
Buy It: Visit Play.Google.com.
3. Clare Rojas Campus Pack
Why We Like It: This colorful canvas bag makes a fashion statement with its bold, geometric mosaic; but it’s also quite practical. Up to a 15-inch MacBook Pro fits in its padded laptop compartment. It also features a little sleeve to slip in your iPad (or Google Nexus 7, as it were). And its two zippered outer pockets and multiple internal pockets will help keep all your other crucial campus knickknacks or travel gadgets packed as you bop around.
How Much: $130
Buy It: Visit GoIncase.com.
4. Blue Microphones Mikey Digital
Why We Like It: Plug this award-winning mic into your iPhone, Touch, or iPad to transform it into a versatile mobile recording rig. Back on campus, you might use it to capture lectures, interviews, or your own personal voice memos. But out and about, it’s great for capturing CD-quality stereo music, whether it be a bar band or full blown concert. Plus, it’s the world’s only mobile mic with both a 30-pin Apple connector and a multi-source auxiliary input, so you can plug your guitar (or any device with a line out) right into it. And since it rotates 230 degrees, it’s also great for recording quality audio with whatever video you’re capturing on the go with pretty much any i-thing.
How Much: $100
Buy It: Visit Amazon.com.
5. Ego USB Hybrid Case for Samsung Galaxy S III
Why We Like It: In one fell swoop, you can protect your Galaxy S III and carry an extra flash drive, with this clever new combo accessory. Each of the cute card’s capacities (4, 8, and 16 Gigs) is available in two colors. You can go with the stock white case or (for another $19) choose any of the six colored cases, to mix or match with your memory card. This fun, functional duo is the latest edition in Ego’s hybrid line, which began with their iPhone version.
How Much: $35-$50
Buy It: Visit EgoStore-Global.com.
6. PS 210 BTNC Earphones
Why We Like It: These amazing buds do everything well (that earphones can do). First, they won’t fall out—thanks to an angled, ergonomic design and multiple sets of included foam and silicon tips. They deliver a range of sound that’s immersive and impressive. Voice feedback tells you when they’re pairing, paired, and actually connected to your music player via Bluetooth. (Or when they’re powering on or off.) They offer some good noise cancellation. And although their rechargeable battery is good for a dozen hours of music or calling time (so you’re not likely to completely run them down during a single flight), they can also be used unpowered and tethered to your media player.
How Much: $159
Buy It: Visit Phiaton.com.
7. Private Wi-Fi
Why We Like It: Especially when traveling abroad, a public WiFi hotspot can feel like a godsend. But it can also put all your info at risk. This monthly service acts as your own virtual private network. So wherever in the world you sign in, your location and data will be masked in a way that allows you to safely email, browse, IM, and Facebook. In fact, you’ll even be anonymous and untrackable by the Private WiFi company itself. So whether you’re at a coffee shop in Prague, an airport in Australia, or back at school in your campus library, you can connect your Mac (newer than 2006) or PC wirelessly without worrying about sneaky cyber sorts messing around with your digital life.
How Much: $10/month or $85/year
Buy It: Visit PrivateWiFi.com.
Fodors.com Travel Technology Columnist Scott Tharler is an expert in gadgets, gambling, and travel. He’s written four books, plus hundreds of mobile and wireless tips for Sony and PC World. In addition to his daily Discovery News gadget blog, you can find links to other gadget articles, social feeds and lists of his current favorite gadgets at about.me/gadgetfans.
Photo credits: 1. Logitech; 2. Google; 3. Incase; 4. Blue Microphones; 5. ego&company Inc.; 6. PHIATON INC.; 7. Laptop: (c) Chromorange | Dreamstime.com, Logo: Private Communications Corporation