Planning on hitting the road over Thanksgiving long weekend?
Pack some patience, too, as it’s expected to be a busy one – just shy of pre-pandemic levels, according to AAA, with 54.6 million people expected to travel over the next few days.
Opposed to air and train travel, most travelers will hit the highway, with nearly 49 million people projected to drive 50 miles or more from home, says AAA.
And don’t forget some tech, too, to help save you time, money, and frustration: a clear map and friendly voice giving helping you reach your destination; apps that can sniff out the lowest prices at the pump; a dashboard camera (“dash cam”) to capture footage in the event of an accident or incident; and accessing tens of millions of songs through streaming music services.
Some tech toys can even help reduce the dreaded “Are we there yet?” from kids in the backseat, like a tablet loaded with TV shows and games.
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The following are a few other recommended gadgets to get you going in the direction.
A camera, but much more
Dash cams are a prudent purchase as these windshield-mounted cameras are always recording – just in case.
Some models go above and beyond basic functionality. The Nextbase 522GW ($299) is billed as the world’s first 1440p resolution Dash Cam with Alexa, allowing you to place calls, stream music, and get directions, and other common Alexa requests.
In fact, you can also use your voice to control your dash cam, such as saying “start recording,” “take a picture,” “protect a recording,” or “send to my phone.”
Along with its Quad HD resolution and polarizing lens to reduce windshield glare, the Nextbase 522GW houses a 3-inch HD IPS touchscreen, built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi (which automatically syncs crash footage with your phone), and an Emergency SOS feature can alert emergency services to your location, in the event of an incident where the driver is unresponsive.
A handy feature, Parking Mode automatically turns on when the vehicle is left unattended and starts recording if a bump is detected.
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Ideal to keep in your trunk – just in case – the Stanley 1000 Peak Amp Portable Car Jump Starter ($129) can jump-start your vehicle’s dead battery in the event of an emergency – so you don’t have to call and wait for roadside assistance (which will no doubt be slammed over the holiday weekend).
Simply connect the familiar red and black clamps to your battery and flip the switch, as it delivers 1000 peak amps and 500 instant starting amps. It’s ideal for a sedan, SUV, RV, truck, motorcycle, or boat. As a safety precaution, the reverse polarity alarm will let you know if it’s connected improperly.
If your vehicle won’t start and it’s dark outside, this gadget houses a bright LED light that rotates 270 degrees, plus it has a built-in 12V DC outlet and USB port to charge your phone, tablet, or other devices.
Some Stanley car-jumper models also have a built-in air compressor to pump up tires, too, which is a convenient feature.
Tablets, and hands-free holders
Perfect for passengers to pass the time, a tablet is ideal for consuming content as it’s larger than a smartphone – giving you more real estate to watch TV shows, play games, and read ebooks — but not as cumbersome to use as a laptop (with its keyboard that you may not need).
The new 10th generation Apple iPad (from $449 for 64GB of storage) is an ideal pick, featuring a bright and colorful 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display, a powerful A14 Bionic chip, and supports more than a million downloads from the App Store to fully customize your experience.
When you reach your destination, it also works with an optional Apple Pencil and Magic Keyboard Folio (sold separately).
If you don’t want to spend as much on a tablet – perhaps you’re buying for younger kids – the Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 (from $180) is a more affordable 10.5-inch color slate that’s powered by Android and the robust Google Play store.
As for mounting the tablet for the little ones in the back seat, the LISEN Tablet Holder ($20) fits all tablets and iPads ranging from 4.7 to 12.9 inches, and affixes to the back of a headrest.
The tablet holder features 360-degree rotation, a strong arm (that extends up to 4 inches) and can be dismantled and folded for easy transportation.
Games, music and podcasts
If you’d like more of a console experience than a mobile game vibe, the versatile Nintendo Switch can be played at home on your big-screen TV (in its dock, included), perhaps in a multiplayer match with the family, but it can also be played on the go, such as in the backseat, via its built-in screen.
A $299 Black Friday bundle includes the Nintendo Switch, a digital copy of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and a 3-month individual membership to the Nintendo Switch Online subscription service.
Computer gamers, on the other hand, might opt for Valve’s trendy Steam Deck handheld PC ($399) capable of running many of today’s top computer games (including your Steam library of content).
As for audio, wireless earbuds or headphones are perfect for private listening of music, podcasts and audiobooks, or taking calls from a nearby smartphone.
One of the highest-rated headphones this year, the Sony WH-1000XM4 ($350) offer a comfortable fit, great sound quality and powerful active noise-canceling (ANC) capabilities.
A smaller, in-ear option, Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II ($299) also feature active noise canceling for those who want some peace of quiet by blocking out ambient noise around you.
For kids, pick up headphones from your local “dollar store,” since they’re likely to lose or break them and generally can’t get too loud, which many parents will appreciate.
Pro tip: If using a streaming music service, such as Spotify, or a podcast platform, be sure to download a ton of content while on Wi-Fi at home, so you don’t incur huge data charges by using 4G/5G to stream while on the road.
Follow Marc on Twitter for his “Tech Tip of the Day” posts: @marc_saltzman. Email him or subscribe to his Tech It Out podcast. The views and opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.
Source from www.usatoday.com