It’s Easter, and for many of you this means a five-day weekend. Before you load up the car, though, be sure to run your eyes over our checklist of tech for the mini-break.
Keeping kiddies happy
If there’s one thing parenting has taught you, it’s that kids require constant entertainment every waking hour and minute of the day. So with a big drive between point A and point B, you’re going to need something to keep them from saying “are we there yet?” six million times
So give them something to play with, like a portable gaming system.
Nintendo’s 3DS can play games wirelessly against other 3DS consoles located in the same area.
Nintendo’s DSi and 3DS consoles are good options, especially when used with friends. Certain games (check the back cover of the title) support multiplayer over the one cartridge, enabling your kids to play games against each other on their separate consoles while you drive on your merry way.
With an Apple iPod Touch or iPad, you can hit up the AppStore for some inexpensive games. There is a diverse selection of games for the various iDevices, including big names such as FIFA 11 HD, Flight Control, Grand Theft Auto, Infinity Blade, and the ever-popular (and addictive) Angry Birds HD.
Know where you’re going
Once you’ve settled the “are we there yet?” question with a stern “no”, it’s time to work out how to get where you’re going by whipping out the trusty GPS unit.
Oh, you don’t have one?
Well it just so happens that you might. If you own a modern mobile handset, such as an Apple iPhone or Android-powered smartphone, you’ve got a fast GPS at your fingertips.
Smartphones taking advantage of Google’s Android OS can generally use Google’s “Navigation”, a free turn-by-turn voice-assisted GPS program. Over on the iPhone, you’ll find several paid GPS applications in Apple’s AppStore, but for safety, make sure you get a proper car mount.
But if you want a dedicated mapping device with new maps, better graphics, more voice options, and a bigger screen, head to your local electronics store and pick up a navigator with the latest-version Whereis or Navteq maps to help ensure you end up where you intended.
Garmin’s 1490T offers up a big 5 inch screen to find your way home.
Eyes on the road
By now, it’s probably been drilled into your head that holding a phone while you drive is illegal (and if it hasn’t, this is us telling you one more time). That, of course, means you should be using some form of hands-free device for your mobile phone.
This means a Bluetooth headset or in-car Bluetooth handsfree system, and there is plenty of choice – from budget to premium – from the likes of Motorola, Jabra, Jawbone and Plantronics, to name just a few choose from. While budget devices will work, the more money you spend can bring better noise cancellation technology, stereo Bluetooth in headphones, radio broadcasting over the FM band, and integration with your car’s stereo.