Summer must-have gadgets

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -  A family summer vacation where you can just get away from it all is something to look forward to.  However, so many of us want or need to stay connected while we're away.

It can be confusing and bulky packing too many technology devices.  Former White House computer expert Theresa Payton is with us tonight with some ideas to help you stay connected, have fun and be safe.

10 Devices you may want to pack for Summer 2010!

I break the gadgets into 3 categories:  Keeping In Touch; Protecting & Organizing Your Devices; and Having Fun!


  1. Keep In Touch
    1. Skype (Free for U.S.!) – You can talk or text via Skype. If you have a webcam, you can conduct a video conference call.  Rate charges apply for international.  No need to "pack" this one, just install it on your computer and use!
    2. Take the Internet With You ($0-200 card + $59-75/month) – You have many mobile options.  You can purchase a Verizon Wireless Netbook that gives you web surfing and basic functions ($199-$350) or buy a card that allows you to connect 1-5 users on your own private connection.  Sure beats surfing the net on an unknown network!
    3. Webcams – ($25-$400) Many computers, provide webcamera functionality built in.  If you need to add this onto your laptop, you have many options.  One option you may want to consider is the Agama plug and play webcam for $29.99
    4. Devices Protected & Organized:
      1. Phone leashes ($25-$80) – You cannot afford to lose your phone on vacation.  Consider some of the phone leashes.  Some options to consider include:  FoneGear's Leash & Finder or Zomm.  Zomm offers an alert when you get more than 30 feet away from your phone, it also doubles as a speakerphone and a personal safety alarm. 
      2. Charging Stations ($20-$75) – Gomadic Universal Charging Station or the Duracell myGrid kit allows you to charge up to 4 devices on one pad.  The cords are organized so easy charging without the power cord mess!
      3. Waterproof cases (Approx $15-$70)– High humidity, pools, ocean, and lake time can be hazardous to your devices.  You have many great waterproof cases to choose from to protect your phone, kindle, iPad.  See H2) Audio Waterproof cases, Aquapack's Underwater Waterproof cases or TrendyDigital's WaterGuard / Waterproof cases. 
      4. Encrypted Flash Drive ($17-$380):  Important documents may need to come with you.  You may want to consider an encrypted flash drive.  They are small, easy to use, and you can keep it in your pocket or purse.  Some options include:  Kingston, Black Box, Lexar and IronKey.  Some of the more expensive ones will only allow a thumbprint and password to access the files. 
      5. Laptop & Device Locks: ($20-$100) – You have many great options to look at.  Choose what fits your devices and your budget.  Two options that you may want to look at are the Belkin Bulldog security kit or the Kensington Keyed Retractable Lock.  You can also tack on an alarm for another $20-$50).
      6. Having Fun
        1. Video Cameras ($39-$500) – You have several choices including some smart phones and digital still cameras for recording video.  In addition, many palm held cameras are a nice travel option.  See the Flip Mini cameras.  Are you on a quest to find Nemo?  If so, you may want to try out Liquid Image's video camera mask ($140-$180) and snap images while swimming!
        2. EBooks ($100-$840) – Some of the more popular devices are the Kindle and the Sony.  Another option, which offers additional features such as email and pictures, is the iPad.
        3. Mobile Movies – ($50 – $200) – You have several great options.  First, you can download movies to many smartphones.  If looking at the screen does not appeal to you, you can watch movies on your laptop or purchase a portable DVD player.



Protect Your Devices & Information:  Never leave your laptop or other devices in your hotel room.  If you must, use a hotel safe or lock down your laptop while out of the room.

Protect Your Location:  Do not announce, via the internet, that you are headed out on vacation.  You might be broadcasting an empty house to cybercreeps.  Do not post photos on the internet of your wonderful vacation away from home until AFTER you are home.

Prepare Emergency Information:  Scan and keep with you on your thumb drive your important documents – passport, drivers license, medical information, and your bank and credit card company information in the event your wallet is stolen.


Not sure what you need?  Confused about your options or what your budget should be?  Here are a few sites where you can do some research on what gadget is best for you and comparison shop online.



Coolest Gadgets:

PC Magazine:

Consumer Reports:

Consumer Electronic Show:

Many of the items are listed for sale at:



Better Buy Electronics:

mySimon Shopping:

eBay Auction Site:

Yahoo! Shopping: