. New gadgets and amp;Safe skies and amp;Foreign tongues | Meetings & Conventions

New gadgets and amp;Safe skies and amp;Foreign tongues

Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio May 1999 Current Issue

On Travel


New gadgets&Safe skies&Foreign tongues

For packing ease, noise relief and coffee anywhere, try these products

Every year, new products hit the shelves, promising to make the business traveler’s life easier. Here’s the cream of the recent crop.

  • Packing it in. Struggles to pack more efficiently cease with Eagle Creek Travel Gear’s Pack-It system (www.eaglecreek.com). Pack-It Folders ($12 to $36) hold folded shirts and pants in a nylon and mesh envelope that keeps them separate from other items in the suitcase and protects them from wrinkling. Pack-It Cubes hold loose items, like socks and underwear; the cubes come in two sizes ($12 to $15).
  • Music to our ears. Hotel rooms are never as quiet as home. Traffic, noisy neighbors, ice machines and elevators tend to be the culprits. The TSC-330 Marsona Sound Conditioner from Marpac Corp. (www.marpac.com) helps drown out those sleep thieves. Just select a calming environmental background sound (like “rainfall” or “surf”), turn up the volume and settle in for the night. The unit, priced at $89, comes with a dual-voltage power pack and nylon travel pouch.

    When ear troubles arise from rapid changes in airplane cabin pressure, travelers can slip in soft, silicone Earplanes by Cirrus Air Technologies (www.earplanes.com/earplane.htm) before takeoff and landing. Porous ceramic elements in the plugs slow down the pressure changes, giving eustachian tubes more time to equalize the pressure between the middle ear and the cabin. One pair of Earplanes is good for two flights and costs $4.75; for 10 or more pairs, the price is $4 per pair.

  • In-room salvation. Two innovative products from Franzus (203-723-6664) should make helpful travel companions. The Franzus Travel Smart Coffeemaker brews two 5-ounce cups of coffee using an autodrip system and a permanent mesh filter. The coffeemaker comes with two cups, a measuring scoop and containers for coffee, sugar and creamer, all of which fit inside the pot. It weighs a little more than a pound and retails for about $25.

    For worldwide travelers, the Franzus four-in-one Converter/Adapter employs new “auto adjust” technology that automatically senses and selects the proper power setting (50 watts to 1,650 watts) for each travel appliance. It has five adapter plugs and a circuit breaker with a reset button that corrects accidental overloads. It works in most countries and costs $49.

  • Lockout. Are hotel room door locks reliable? Many security experts recommend bringing your own. The compact Traveler’s Door Lock from Magellan’s (www.magellans.com) adapts to most door designs at home and abroad, holding doors closed with its stable hook and adjustable sliding plate. Measuring 4.5 inches long and weighing just 4 ounces, the door lock includes a Prestolock three-dial, set-it-yourself combination lock, which also can be used to lock dresser drawers, and costs $12.85.

    In 1998, for the first year ever, no passenger who flew in any type of U.S. commercial aircraft anywhere in the world was fatally injured, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. As of March 1999, the most recent fatal air accident occurred on Dec. 28, 1997, when a woman suffered a head injury after a United Airlines plane hit turbulence during a flight between Tokyo and Honolulu.

    That spate of good fortune did not extend to international carriers, however; many Americans died when Swissair Flight 111 crashed off Nova Scotia in September 1998.

    In 1993, no one died in a U.S. jetliner, but there were fatalities in smaller commuter planes.

    For those who want to learn the language of the country to which they are traveling, Berlitz and the Learning Company offer Passport to 31 Languages, a new computer program that aims to help users master the basics of 31 tongues. The four-step program works like this:

    First, choose your native language and the foreign one you want to learn. Second, pick a topic and learn key vocabulary by viewing pictures, reading the words and hearing them pronounced. Next, try speaking, and the program’s speech-recognition technology (available only in Spanish, French, German, Italian and English) evaluates your pronunciation. And, finally, the learning is reinforced with a number of activities. The three-CD package comes with a CD atlas and costs $29.95 (www.berlitz.com).

    Roger Slavens is a contributing editor to Frequent Flyer magazine, a sister publication of M&C. This article was adapted from Frequent Flyer.

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