Tech Tools: 6 Travel Essentials

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Able Planet Linx Fusion (AblePlanet.com)

Able Planet has quietly (no pun intended) made a name for itself over the years in the noise-cancellation field. The company’s latest headphones, the $349.99 Linx Fusion, combines its active ambient noise-canceling technology with ViviTouch—a type of audio enhancement that delivers some sound via gentle vibrations. The method has been used in one way or another for years to improve hearing aids, and here it means you can keep your music volume at lower, safer levels and still hear everything perfectly, making it ideal for loud environments like planes and trains. The crying baby two rows back won’t bother you a bit.

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Acer TravelMate TMP645-MG-9419 (Acer.com)

Its name may not roll off the tongue, but the TravelMate TMP645-MG-9419 ($1,399) is a beast of a business laptop, and packs a processor and graphics card that combine to make the system lightning-fast. User-friendly and secure, thanks to thoughtful inclusions like a backlighted keyboard and biometric fingerprint reader, this computer isn’t about looking cool—it’s about being powerful and easily portable, so the sturdily built TravelMate makes up for its rather drab aesthetic by delivering processing speeds you’d expect from a far more expensive system.

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LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt (Apple.com)

With an orange exterior that resembles a bumper car, the LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt is a fine portable hard drive. For $199.95, it packs a whopping terabyte of storage (or 2 TB, for a higher price). It connects via either USB 3.0 or Apple’s Thunderbolt ports, so you know transfers will be quick whether you’re backing up or retrieving data. In addition to its luggage-friendly size, it’s a solid-state drive, which means it’s not only fast, but also ideal for travel—no moving parts or spinning disks to worry about. In short, this is a very speedy, not-at-all-fragile hard drive.

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StarTech Portable Wireless N Wi-Fi Travel Router (StarTech.com)

Anyone who’s ever depended on hotel Wi-Fi when working on a tight deadline knows this sinking feeling: Your work is due yesterday, and a dial-up modem from 1997 would be an upgrade. The StarTech Portable Wireless N Wi-Fi Travel Router ($58.99) ensures you’ll never again endure this torture. It connects to your hotel room’s Ethernet and transforms it into your own personal Wi-Fi network. Sure, you could just plug your laptop into that same Ethernet connection… but would your laptop then provide secure Wi-Fi for your phone and tablet as well as your co-workers’ laptops and gadgets? The answer is nope.

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Square (SquareUp.com)

Still the undisputed champion of mobile credit card readers, Square is a popular choice for cabbies, food trucks, clothing boutiques and way beyond. And it should be your on-the-road payment tool, as well. The hardware integration is seamless, and the card readers cost next to nothing; after you opt in, you pay a small percentage of every sale using the reader and software. For these relatively small fees, you get inventory and shipment management software, sales analysis, and integration with popular tools such as Intuit QuickBooks and  Xero.

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JunoJumpr (JunoPower.com)

What makes this $99.99 backup battery supply different from the plethora of options competing for space in your carry-on? Is it the super-slim, ultra-lightweight design? Perhaps, but that’s not truly unique. OK, enough playing coy: In addition to charging your devices, the JunoJumpr can actually jump-start a car. Yes, really. And yet it’s about the size of a mobile phone. Most portable battery packs will ensure that your phone and tablet never lose juice, but they can’t breathe life into your rental Camry when its battery bites the dust in the Nevada desert.

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