Genes Geek Gadgets


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During my travels, I have come to rely heavily on gadgets.  Primarily because the capacity of my brain is limited, and the filing system it uses is not always the most efficient (Sometimes I will remember a word or formula 6 hours after I needed it).  This page goes into some of the gadgets that I have found most useful.  You can assume by reading these that I consider these items to be some of the best there is in their class (take into account that technology changes daily, and this page is not updated frequently, only when I adopt a new gadget).

Magellan Sportrak Pro - This cute little GPS unit has come handy in many countries.  It has sufficient internal memory that I can dump many detailed maps into it.  And using official benchmark locations, differential GPS units, and government PLUGGER units, I can tell you that the Sportrak is by far the most accurate consumer GPS I have seen, and with the addition of WAAS on this unit, it is capable of picking up signals under trees and in downtown areas better than most units in its class.

Sony Clie SJ22 - This was my first attempt at augmenting my brain.  And it has served me extremely well.  The Sony is a better Palm device than any Palm ever hoped to be.  I will not get into specific software, but it is invaluable at holding many language translation programs, hierarchical list keepers, and maps.   It and the GPS have kept me from being lost even when I am alone and can't speak the language in a foreign country, and enabled me to figure out food ingredients with my limited language skills (after all, who takes the time to learn "chestnut" or "walnut" in a foreign language ahead of time?)

Fuji Finepix 3800 -  I picked this 3.2 megapixel camera because it took fast media (Xd cards), standard AA batteries, and had a 6x optical zoom (don't be fooled, digital zoom means nothing, you can duplicate it in software).  I carried it all over Europe, and took gigabytes of pictures.  I did carry a laptop around as well, but its nothing spectacular, so I won't list it here.  It did allow me to take gigabytes while only carrying around 380 megs of flash cards.  Note: I am very happy with this unit for the price, however it is not the best indoor camera in the world.  Its ISO rating is fixed low, and its auto focus has problems in low light.  The ISO rating can be compensated for with a small tripod, but there is nothing that will fix the auto focus besides more light.

HP IPAQ 4155 - This is my latest attempt at augmenting my brain.  It has yet to be as useful to me as my  Sony, but to be fair I haven't given it the chance yet.  Does this mean that I will leave the Sony at home next time?  Nope.  There is software that I cannot live without on both platforms.  Besides they are both extremely small.  This device is a Pocket PC, and it is currently state of the art.  It is fast, comes with built in Bluetooth, IR, and WIFI, a wonderful color screen, and an earphone jack that is normal size.  Whereas last time I traveled, I hauled the laptop around to sent email, work on Word documents, and Excel spreadsheets, now I can do it from the palm of my hand.  Its WIFI performance is better than many laptop cards I have tried.  And mp3's sound better on it than on my stand alone mp3 player.  It will probably replace my my Palm at GPS and map work, as is bluetooth allows me to leave the GPS in my backpack, and still receive coordinates from it.  Update (02/01/2005): I don't recommend using the larger capacity battery for this unit.  I pulled mine out of my pocket one day only to find the LCD cracked without apparent reason.  Examination revealed that it cracked right along the line where the extra capacity battery pack sticks out of the back of the unit.  $160 dollars later, a new LCD, back to the standard battery, and an aluminum case, and I am back in business.  I have grown to really rely on this unit, but it still hasn't replaced my palm.  To this date, there simply isn't a IPAQ application comparable to Brainforest.

Fuji Finepix S2 pro -  This is arguably (depending on who you ask) the best semi-pro digicam on the market.  At 12 million recorded pixels per image, and interchangeable SLR style lenses, you can image absolutely anything you want with this sucker.  Its HUGE however, and I will not be carrying this around when I hike across country.  I love this camera.   At 12 megapixel, you only get 80 images on a 1 gig flash card using TIF format, and about 210 jpg's on high.  I liked it so much, I bought a second S2 pro as a backup.

Motorola V600 - This cell phone has replaced my trusty Ericsson R520M  It is the most feature packed phone I have had to date.  It has a camera,  a color screen, polyphonic ringtones, bluetooth, and Quad GSM Bands.  That gives it incredible ability to communicate.  It came unlocked from Motorola (thanks for making it easy, I didn't have to go around anyone's back to unlock it this time).  What that means is pick a vendor that supports GSM, any vendor and it will work in North America, and all over Europe (My experience in South America shows that while they do use GSM, they don't use sims, not that it hampered me, I rented a reasonable phone down there.  I refuse to be out of touch with the world).  It has allowed me to talk all over the world, and hook my bluetooth headset and my new IPAQ up via bluetooth and surf the net.  Hint:  When in Europe, don't pay a US company to roam over there, pick up a SIM in the country you are staying in and pop it in.  Pay local rates for local calls.  Trust me, it helps just to be able to call a restaurant and ask if they are open on any given night before you make the trek there.

Direct TV Tivo -  While its not a gadget to travel with, its great while I am traveling.  I can't leave anything alone, so my units are upgraded to 105 hours of recording time, and lots of bells and whistles that they normally don't do.  I won't get into that here, lets just say that if they can do something, I have them doing it.  With dual tuners, and rudimentary intelligence in scheduling, I can catch up on things I wanted to see while I was out of the country, or stream the video to wherever I happen to be in the world, over the internet (oops, never mind, that's something THEY don't want the units to do)

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This site was last updated 05/09/05