Posted Fri Jun 5, 2015 at 08:30 PM PDT by Steven Cohen
Well, it's finally almost summer… and you know what that means, right? No, not just sunburns and blockbuster movies. It means that it's time to travel! Time to leave your dark home theater rooms behind to venture out into the unknown. To relax on sunny beaches. To climb towering mountains. To sail across vast oceans. To experience new things and explore new locations. To stand before the Great Pyramid of Giza and peer out at its overwhelming beauty… through the LCD screen of a tablet as you snap a photo and post it on Instagram. And you might want to add one of those sepia-toned filters just to make it look vintage. Those pyramids are really old, after all.
Yes, travel is a lot of fun and the great outdoors sure are majestic, but that doesn't mean that we can't bring a little bit of portable tech with us, does it? Seriously, does it?! I love Caribbean cruises as much as anybody, but I need my Fruit Ninja fix! Now that mobile gear has become so feature-rich and affordable, travelers can basically bring an entire digital entertainment system with them wherever they go. And though most itineraries will likely have enough fun planned out to take up most of your day -- could it really hurt to be able to catch up on 'Game of Thrones' during a little bit of downtime? Of course not!
With that in mind, we've compiled a gear guide filled with all of the most essential mobile entertainment items suited for traveling graduates and families alike. Perfect for summer adventures, these portable devices will help keep you connected during all of those sunny beach days, backpacking excursions, camping treks, hotel stays, and long road trips.
For most tech enthusiasts, tablets have now become the go-to device when it comes to portable entertainment, and it's easy to see why -- especially with an HD OLED screen. Thin, light, and packed with features, these mobile gadgets offer every form of digital entertainment imaginable along with built-in cameras. From movies and TV shows, to e-books, video games, and countless apps, tablets allow customers to bring their entire media library with them wherever they go, making them the perfect companions for summer trips. Well, the perfect companions besides actual friends... or your significant other... or your children. You still remember them, right?
Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 16GB Tablet ($379) - 8.9-inch IPS screen with a resolution of 2560x1600, 2.5 GHz Snapdragon 805 processor, 2GB of RAM, 720p front facing camera, 8MP rear camera, Dolby Atmos mobile support. Check our full review!
Amazon Fire HDX 7 16GB Tablet ($179) - 7-inch IPS screen with a resolution of 1920x1200, 2.2 GHz Quad-Core Snapdragon 800 CPU, 2GB of RAM, 720p front facing camera.
Apple iPad Air 2 16 GB Tablet ($443) - 9.7-inch IPS display with a resolution of 2048x1536, A8X chip with 64‑bit architecture and an M8 motion coprocessor, 8MP iSight camera, 1.2MP FaceTime camera
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 16GB Tablet ($398) - 8.4-inch Super AMOLED screen with a resolution of 2560x1600, 1.9 GHz Exynos 5 Octa Processor, 3GB of RAM, 8MP rear camera, 2.1MP front camera.
Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8-inch 16GB Tablet ($229) - 8-inch TFT screen with a resolution of 1024x768, 1.2 GHz Quad-Core Qualcomm APQ 8016 CPU, 1.5GB of RAM, 2MP front camera, 5MP rear camera.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 7-inch 8GB Tablet ($149) - 7-inch screen with a resolution of 1280x800, 1.2GHz quad-core CPU, 1.5GB of RAM, 3MP rear camera, 1.3MP front camera.
Streaming media players are nothing new, but as relatively compact as they are, carrying around an Apple TV or Roku on vacation might not be the most practical idea. Especially when all that precious luggage space really needs to be used for more important things. You know, like clothes. Thankfully, we now have media dongles to satiate our mobile entertainment needs! Packed with access to numerous apps or mobile casting support, these little sticks are tiny enough to fit in your pocket and plug right into a TV's HDMI port. So forget ordering those expensive hotel movies -- just bring your Netflix account with you on the go!
Fire TV Stick - $39
Chromecast - $29
Roku Streaming Stick - $48
Small screen mobile devices are great and all, but what if you want to bring the big screen with you on the go? I mean, you can't really watch 'Lawrence of Arabia' on a smartphone can you? Well then, your only real large-screen mobile solution is a portable projector. With lower resolution pico projectors that can fit right in your pocket and some compact HD models small enough for travel, there's no longer any reason why you can't beam your movies and even live OTA TV anywhere you go.
LG PW600G Portable Projector ($500) – 1280x800, 600 Lumens, DLP 3D Ready, Up to 100-inch class size.
Optoma ML750 Portable Projector ($565) – 1280x800, 700 Lumens, Included Battery, DLP 3D Ready, Up to 100-inch class size.
LG PH300 LED Minibeam Projector ($420) – 1280x720, 300 Lumens, Integrated Battery, Built-in Digital TV Tuner, Up to 100-inch class size.
AAXA P4 P4X Pico Projector ($284) - 858x480, 125 Lumens, Included Battery, Up to 80-inch class size.
Brookstone HDMI Pocket Projector Mobile ($250) – 1280x720, 100 Lumens, Rechargeable Battery, Up to 80-inch class.
While some users might be content to listen to music on their smartphones while traveling, those looking for more features and higher quality audio playback might want to invest in a dedicated digital music player. Beyond just standard MP3 playback, many new model players -- including a premium Walkman that will set you back around $1,200 -- also support high-resolution audio formats, allowing customers to enjoy their music without any lossy compression, even on a deserted tropical island. Or if high-res isn't your thing, an ultra-compact MP3 player might be all you need to add some tunes and audiobooks to your next trip.
SanDisk Sansa Clip Zip MP3 Player ($98) – 8GB, microSD slot, 10 hour battery, 1.1 inch LCD Display.
Sony Walkman NWZA17SLV Hi-Res Digital Music Player ($300) – 64GB, Up to 50 hours MP3 playback and 30-hours Hi-Res playback, Bluetooth, NFC, microSD slot, 2.25" WVGA LCD Display.
Sony Walkman NWZX2BLK Hi-Res Digital Music Player ($1,998) – 128GB, Up to 60-hours MP3 and 33-hours Hi-Res playback, Bluetooth with LDAC, Wi-Fi, microSD slot, 4.0" FWVGA TRILUMINOS LCD Touchscreen Display.
So now that you've got your portable audio player picked out, how do you plan on actually hearing all that music you have stored up? Well, that's where a good pair of portable Bluetooth speakers comes in. Available in all shapes and sizes, wireless speaker systems let you listen to your music unencumbered by headphones. Likewise, they allow you to share your audio goodies with your friends and family, making them the perfect fit for vacations and trips to the beach. After all, what good is a beach party without some Bob Marley?
Sony SRSX11 Ultra-Portable Bluetooth Speaker ($68) - 10-watts, Dual Passive Radiators, Up to 12 hours of battery life.
Sony SRSX33 Powerful Portable Bluetooth Speaker ($130) - 20-watts, Full Range Stereo Speakers, Dual Passive Radiators, LDAC, NFC, Up to 12 hours of battery life.
FUGOO Style Portable Bluetooth Speaker ($180) - Six drivers on four sides, Waterproof, 40 hours of battery life.
FUGOO Sport Portable Bluetooth Speaker ($200) - Six drivers on four sides, Waterproof, Snow proof, Sand proof, 40 hours of battery life.
FUGOO Tough Portable Bluetooth Speaker ($230) - Six drivers on four sides, Waterproof, Snow Proof, Sand Proof, Mud Proof, Shock Proof, 40 hours of battery life.
As great as sharing your music is, sometimes you're really just going to want (or need) to listen to your audio solo. With that in mind, investing in a solid pair of headphones is probably a good idea. From standard ultra-portable earbuds, to higher quality over the ear models, to noise canceling pairs, headphones are the perfect travel companions. Whether hiking or relaxing, music is always a welcomed addition to any vacation activity -- and now many mobile devices and apps are even starting to support advanced audio tech like DTS Headphone:X and Dolby Atmos. And if a long flight is in your cards this summer, then a noise-canceling model is an absolute must. That is, unless you actually want to hear that crying baby for eleven hours straight…
Bose QuietComfort 25 Headphones ($299) – Noise Cancelling Feature with AAA battery, Lightweight around-ear fit.
Beats by Dr. Dre Studio Wireless 09077 Headphones ($379) - Over Ear Design, Dual-Mode Adaptive Noise Canceling Tech, Built-in Rechargeable Battery, Bluetooth.
Klipsch Image S4 –II Headphones ($100) – In-Ear Design, Noise Isolating.
Panasonic RP-HJE120 Ergo Fit Stereo Earphones ($11) – In-Ear Design, 3 pairs of soft earpads included.
So, there you have it. Whether you're a recent graduate enjoying a European trip before you finally enter the "real world," or a family of four venturing to the Grand Canyon in a beat-up station wagon, these mobile gear items should satiate all of your portable entertainment needs.
Of course, actually enjoying the beautiful locals and stirring vistas you encounter should always be your first priority... but snapping a few Facebook pics, listening to Pandora, and watching the latest episode of 'True Detective' no matter where you are should definitely remain a close second. A very close second.
See what people are saying about this story in our forums area, or check out other recent discussions.
The latest news on all things 4K Ultra HD, blu-ray and Gear.