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PUBLISHED WORK > Connected Traveler: Road-Trip Survival Kit

PC Magazine  December 25, 2007

Connected Traveler: Road-Trip Survival Kit

On a three-year road trip, two travelers list the must-have technologies for the road.

By Karen Catchpole and Eric Mohl

When we embarked on the Trans-Americas Journey (www.trans-americas.com), a three-year, 100,000-mile working road trip through North, Central, and South America, we knew we would need a lot of technology to help us along. After more than a year on the road, here’s what we would never leave home without.

With fuel prices headed in the wrong direction, we rely on the Web site GasBuddy.com, which lists pump prices at tens of thousands of stations in every state and across Canada—regardless of brand. Prices are posted on easy-to-read maps, and although the prices are submitted by regular users (with no fact-checkers), we’ve found its data to be reasonably accurate and reliable.

Sprint PX-500 broadband card

Of course, GasBuddy is useless if we can’t get an Internet connection. The Sprint Mobile Broadband Wireless PX 500 card ($199.99) gives you access in every market Sprint covers (which includes much, but not all, of the U.S.). The card can keep you connected in a moving vehicle, but be aware that connection speeds are much better in cities than they are in rural areas.

Panasonic Toughbook W2
A rugged, ultralight laptop, such as the 2.8 pound Panasonic Toughbook eLite W2 Executive Notebook, is another road-trip essential. This tiny laptop is more impervious to dust, damp, and temperature fluctuations than we are. The updated versions of the W5, T5, and Y5 models (from $2,269) now have Verizon and Sprint wireless capability built in so you can choose either service without buying separate cards.

Since Day One of the journey, we armed ourselves with a GPS unit, but we wished it could warn us about impending traffic jams and suggest practical detours. Our wishes were fulfilled once we found the Magellan Maestro 4250 ($499, including a three-month subscription to live traffic), which gives you real-time traffic warnings for 50 U.S. cities and suggests detours. A subscription to Magellan’s traffic services is steep at $39.99 a month, but it sure beats the alternative.


Copyright © 2008 Ziff Davis Publishing Holdings, Inc.


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