The ultimate on-the-go gadget can do a lot more than just play tunes
The iPod is going places. More than 15 million have been sold worldwide, and plenty of iPod owners can't imagine leaving for a vacation without a pair of white earbuds in tow. With the right peripherals and software, your favorite digital music player can become an even better travel companion.
The drawback to digital cameras is that the internal memory card can fill up with pictures before the trip is over. You could be diligent and delete snapshots along the way, but Belkin's Digital Camera Link (belkin.com, $80) lets you transfer images from your camera directly onto an iPod Photo. The boxy gadget doesn't work for serious photographers who depend on large-capacity memory cards, but in 5 to 10 minutes it can move the contents of a 128- or 256-megabyte card. That way you can immediately admire your shots on the iPod's color screen and download the pictures to your computer when you get home. A less expensive option (with fewer features) is the $29 Camera Connector from Apple.
How do you say "no thank you" in Japanese? And more important, how do you pronounce it? Talking Panda's iLingo software puts a 400-word phrase book in your ears (talkingpanda.com, $15). Just find the word using the iPod scroll wheel and hit play to hear the pronunciation. It isn't going to replace a full-on language-instruction CD anytime soon, and it requires up to 40 megabytes of space--more than half the contents of the largest iPod. Still, you'll never have to flip through a phrase book again.
Shuffle Sport Case
The iPod Shuffle is smaller than a pack of gum, lighter than a car key, and holds about 120 songs. But for $99 it's not a toy that you can afford to get wet, dirty, or damaged when you drop it. Apple's handy iPod Shuffle Sport Case is a clear holder that keeps out sand and grit, and gives you peace of mind while jogging in the rain (apple.com, $29). And it's engineered so that you don't have to open the case to jump to the next song or adjust the volume.
Portable music doesn't have to be a solo affair. The Logitech mm22 and Creative TravelSound i300 speakers both offer rich, clear sound and shrink to the size and weight of a paperback novel. Each costs around $80 and runs on four AAA batteries. The mm22 comes with an iPod holder (logitech.com), while Creative's i300 has a foldable stand that allows you to tilt the speakers (creative.com).
Audiobooks and tours
At audible.com, there are nearly 28,000 books and radio programs available in MP3 format, including 230 titles in the travel and adventure section alone. New releases come out all the time--one of the latest is Assassination Vacation, Sarah Vowell's tour of presidential murder locales, read by Stephen King, Jon Stewart, and others ($21). Or listen to the Soundwalks guided tours of neighborhoods in Paris and New York City, with cinematic sound effects ($15).