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The American Adventure

tomtom go 930
tomtom go 930

TomTom Go sat-navOne trip to America. Two Absolute Gadget journos. Three months to see as much as possible. And a host of our favourite gadgets to keep us happy along the way…

fWhat exactly do you pack for a three-month trip? Well, baggage restrictions have been lifted a little and BA now allows each passenger to take 20KGs per bag, with a two bag limit. But even with the widescreen TV in storage, we’re gonna have to pare down our choices. After all, we have to leave some room for clothes, shoes and coats.

Our top tip: whack the heavy stuff in your hand luggage. Our carry-on bag probably weighed more than one of the (massive) suitcases we lugged with us. But since it was so small and manageable, the powers that be didn’t even look twice at it.

Anyway, here’s what made the cut:

Sony Vaio VGN-TX5XN laptop
A constant companion since we snagged it in Dixons duty free more than a year ago.
Pros: Defined small, before Asus came on the scene, and can therefore be carried around without anyone eyeing up a laptop-shaped bag.
Cons: Pricey (cost more than our car); screen now bent with visible line down it (no good for movies anymore, but apparently not covered by our initial one-year warranty); not really powerful enough to handle the installed Windows Vista (but we just didn’t have time to finally downgrade to XP before we shipped out).

2 x Video iPod
These babies already travel everywhere with us but they’re packed full of extra tunes for this trip.
Pros: Masses of album storage space even though we only have the 30GB versions.
Cons: Pants battery life, especially when using the next item.

iTrip radio transmitter
A must for car journeys where you need your iPod to blot out all those Children Of The Corn-style preacher radio stations.
Pros: Hear your tunes on any radio!
Cons: Depletes iPod battery life.

Logitech Pure-Fi Anywhere 2
In our book the ultimate travel dock for your iPod – especially as we have the tougher, more protective case that came with the previous version.
Pros: Plugs into the mains to play or to recharge its 10-hour battery and allows you to turn some speakers on and off to conserve battery life.
Cons: We’ve got the white version, which clashes with our classy black iPod case.

Energizer iPod Recharger
Whack two regular AA batteries in this baby, plop the iPod on it and watch those power levels rise.
Pros: Very small and easy to carry.
Cons: The odd environmental concern about using up lots of batteries.

Sony DVP-FX870 portable DVD player
With the laptop screen too knackered to fulfil the movie-playing duty we bought it for, we’ve added this little fella to our hand luggage.
Pros: A cracking screen, two connections for headphones and a twisty function so it can play at an angle.
Cons: No USB connection or memory card ports so we couldn’t lose the weight of our CD cases, although it plays multiple DivX episodes on recordable DVDs so we did save some space that way. No NTSC out for playback on hotel TVs, though.

HP Photosmart R927 camera
We won this at a press event and it’s a bit old now. It was supposed to be replaced by something newer from a rival camera company pre-trip (see, I told you we’d be mentioning it, if you’d only come up with the goods…)
Pros: Having dropped this numerous times it seems to be indestructible.
Cons: Occasionally a bit slow to recharge the flash and takes an age to take shaky photos in low light if you turn the flash off.

TomTom Go 730 sat-nav
I don’t even like driving in the UK without an authoritative electronic voice telling me which lane I should be in, so you can flip off if you think I’m getting into a hire car in the US without the same kind of assistance.
Pros: Loaded with US maps through the TomTom Home online service.
Cons: N/A. It’s all been planes, tubes and Amtrack trains so far. We’ll have a full review when we finally get behind the wheel.

Hi-Tech Ion Mask-treated trainers
Not a gadget, we hear you say? When every fibre of the material has been bombarded with a treatment right out of Star Trek to repel water, we beg to differ.
Pros: Waterproof.
Cons: As with all trainers, they’re rubbing my feet as I’ve only just started breaking them in.

HTC Pro mobile phone
Currently serving as a portable notepad for important stuff like hotel reservation info and places to visit, this’ll be back to its best if we can find a US pay-as-you-go Sim to whack in it.
Pros: Like a computer in your pocket.
Cons: Currently like a computer with no internet connection in your pocket.

Think you’ve got something to upgrade our travel experience? You can find email addresses for Matt and Hillary on the Contact Us section of the Absolute Gadget website.