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Essential Spring Break Gadget Guide


Best Gadgets To Take On Spring Break

As the Beatles said “…it’s been a long cold lonely winter..,” but now here comes the sun and off you go. Whether you're taking the kids to Disneyland or taking a break from college to go to Florida you’ll probably end up taking along a suitcase full of gadgets.

To help you find the best gadgets to use on your break, Retrevo analyzes reviews and ratings for thousands of consumer electronics products like GPS , Laptops, Camcorders, Digital Cameras from manufacturers like Garmin, Toshiba, Sony, and Canon. Here are some recommendations to make your adventures more fun and memorable.

High Definition Camcorders

If you’re thinking about buying a new camcorder you might as well go high definition or at least wide screen. You can get camcorders that record to good old tape, DVDs, flash memory, or hard drives. If you’re planning on doing serious video editing, tape may still be the way to go since applications like Premiere and Final Cut have been slow to embrace AVCHD the replacement format to miniDV.

Canon HV-20
Canon HV-30
Canon HV-20 Canon HV-30

The Canon HV-20 at $700 is still an all around good value. Canon recently announced its successor, the Canon HV-30 which offers a few minor enhancements including an improved LCD screen.

If you can afford $1400 you can get the latest and greatest camcorder from Sony, the Sony HDR-SR12 1080p which has a big 3.2 inch LCD screen and stores AVCHD video to a 120GB hard drive it should be available in March.

The new Panasonic HDC-SD9 stores 1080p AVCHD formatted video to an SD flash memory card. It offers image stabilization and face detection technology which makes it harder to take a bad shot. It will also be available in March and should sell for around $1100.

Sanyo Xacti HD1000
Sanyo VPC-E1
Aiptek A-HD
Samsung SC-HMX20C
Sanyo Xacti HD1000 Sanyo VPC-E1 Aiptek A-HD Samsung SC- HMX 20C

For portability you can’t beat one of the new super compact handheld HD camcorders like the Sanyo Xacti HD1000, which shoots 4MP pictures or 1080p video. Users say image quality is very good but the grip is a bit bulky. It sells for around $650. Sanyo also has a waterproof variation that stores non-HD NSTC video or 6 MP stills. It costs a little over $400. Aiptek has a 720p, 5 MP pistol grip handheld, the Aiptek A-HD that sells for a very reasonable $150.

If you prefer to wait a few months the Samsung SC-HMX20C is due out in June. It has a 2.7 inch touchsrceen and records 1080p, on 8 GB of flash memory. It also has an SDHC memory card slot for additional storage.

Very Cool Helmet Camera

In case you want to capture the action from a closer point of view, you should consider this helmet mounted camera that stores video to memory. It’s weather proof and ruggedized so you can use it in the snow or rain. It's an impressive piece of engineering and sells for around $325.

GPS

Garmin Colorado 300
Garmin nuvi 260
Garmin nuvi 850
Garmin nuvi 360
Mio C250
Colorado 300 Garmin nuvi 260 Garmin nuvi 850 Garmin nuvi 360 Mio C520

You don’t have to live in Colorado to use Garmin’s new handheld GPS . The Colorado 300 is a handheld unit with a color display and lots of extra travel-friendly features like an MP3 player and book reader. Garmin announced new products at CES including the Garmin nuvi 260 and the Garmin nuvi 850 but last years models like the Garmin nuvi 360 or the Mio C520 can offer some very good values at prices under $300.

Universal Chargers

Solio Portable Hybrid Solar Charger
Solio Hybrid 1000
Lenmar PPU1700W
Solio Portable Hybrid Solar Charger Solio Hybrid 1000 Lenmar PPU1700W

There are many products you can buy to charge your gadgets. We like the Solio hybrid solar chargers that have a built-in storage cell that can be recharged from the wall or the sun and then makes that power available to many different devices. The Solio Portable Hybrid Solar Charger and the new Solio Hybrid 1000 can both be purchased for under $100.

Lenmar sells a universal power pack the PPU1700W that can recharge devices like iPods through a USB connector. It’s great for keeping an iPod going for an entire long plane ride and can be purchased for around $30.

Digital Cameras

Nikon D300
Canon Powershot A560
Nikon Coolpix P5100
Nikon D300 Canon Powershot A560 Nikon Coolpix 5100

If you're still carrying around that 1 MP camera or you just never made the switch to digital there are some good values in digital cameras. If you want a professional SLR camera Retrevo recommends the Nikon D300 as the best overall value in digital cameras. It’s a 12 MP SLR that gets very high expert ratings and great user reviews. The Canon Powershot A560 can be purchased for around $130. It’s a 7.1 MP compact camera with a 4x optical zoom and face technology but no image stabilization. A step up from the Powershot A560 would be the Nikon Coolpix 5100. It has optical image stabilization and gets very good reviews but is a bit on the pricey side at $300.

iPod Boom Box

Griffin Technology Journi
Altec Lansing inMotion iM600
Griffin Technology Journi Altec Lansing inMotion iM600

There’s a good chance most travelers will be carrying an iPod or other MP3 player wherever they go. To get a party going wherever you may be, an iPod Boom Box might be a good idea. The Griffin Technology Journi is a good candidate. You can buy it for under $100. It has a rechargeable battery that lasts for 8 – 10 hours on a charge it can also be powered by a USB port and gets good user reviews. Altec Lansing has the inMotion iM600 for around $100. It gets very good user reviews, uses some engineering tricks to make the speakers seem further apart, and even has an FM radio built in.

Book Readers

Sony Reader PRS-505
Amazon Kindle
Sony Reader PRS 505 Amazon Kindle

Two popular readers using electronic paper are Amazon’s Kindle and the Sony Reader. The Sony Reader PRS 505 can be purchased for around $300. The Kindle which includes high speed 3G internet access for downloading books and browsing the web sells for $399. The Kindle has received mixed reviews due to some ergonomic issues but gets many rave reviews as a groundbreaking product. Books cost more to purchase on the Sony reader and you have to go through a computer connected to the internet to download them but the Sony gets good marks for style and usability.

Retrevo For All Your Gadget Needs

You’ll find reviews and manuals for all popular gear and gadgets like GPS, Digital Cameras, Camcorders, Cell Phones, Laptops, and more from manufacturers like Sony, Garmin, Panasonic, Toshiba, and more. Have fun on your break. If you decide to stay at home maybe you should consider picking up an HDTV set. You can find the best values on Retrevo’s HDTV Product Advisor.


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