Every year the biggest tech brands in the world come to Berlin to present their wares at IFA, Europe’s biggest tech show. Mostly it's TVs and phones that grab the headlines, but with every passing year there are more mobile gadgets fit for trips and travel.
This year there was everything from some new benchmark noise canceling headphones to a trekking watch that can go for 30 days.
Whatever kind of traveller you are, this is the new essential travel tech to make your holidays epic.
1. Sony SRS-XB501G portable speaker
Does your beach party need more bass? Sony is hoping so because it sneaked on to its IFA 2018 stand the tiny SRS-XB501G, a portable Bluetooth speaker with a beefed-up digital signal processor to fuel its creatively-named ‘Extra Bass’ mode.
It’s also got an outdoorsy IP65 rating, though that guarantees only water (and dust) resistance, not waterproof-ness. To that end it’s got the unusual feature of a tripod thread so you can keep it off the wet sand/poolside, and perhaps even get it to ear-height.
Elsewhere it’s got a 16 hours battery life, but you can trade that in for some extra juice in your phone if you hook-up via USB-C. When you’re back indoors, the XB501G has Google Assistant built in.
Sold in back or blue from October 2018, the SRS-XB501G will cost around £300.
2. Casio Pro Trek Smart WSD F30 smartwatch
If you’re the kind of traveller who likes a hike, Casio’s long-lasting new smartwatch is for you. Although it has the usual altimeter, barometer and compass, the key feature is offline mapping; you download a map to your watch and then you can hike off-grid, without a phone signal (hopefully) without getting lost.
Built on Google's Wear OS software, in its normal mode of tracking your location, the F30 will last for a day and a half, but Casio claims that it can last for three days if you check your position only occasionally. A battery-saving mode, which pauses location monitoring, makes it good for 30 days.
It will cost about £500 when it launches in January.
3. Kodak Pocket Wireless Pico projector
If you’re the kind of road warrior that needs to give presentations on the fly, you’ll know the nervousness of relying on others for presentation facilities. Cue the Pocket Pico, a mini DLP projector that connects with a phone or tablet either wirelessly over a private WiFi connection, or via HDMI.
Either way it can indulge in screen mirroring and create a 100-inch image in 854x480 pixels, while its wireless-ness is further boosted by a built-in rechargeable battery. It’s also got a microSD card slot, a built-in speaker, and a 3.5mm audio jack for either hooking-up a more powerful speaker, or for plugging-in headphones if you watch a movie. It’s on sale now for £250.
4. Audio-Technica ATH-SR30BT headphones
Seventy hours. That’s a long, long journey that Audio-Technica’s wireless over-ear headphones are designed for, but before you write them off as over-engineered, consider this; you can go on a week-long trip and never have to bother recharging them.
Audio-Technica claim that the ATH-SR30BT will last a whole month of normal use, and while some airlines stop you using wireless headphones on aircraft, they shouldn’t; strictly speaking, short-range wireless tech such as Bluetooth is allowed.
Sadly they have no clever noise reduction circuitry, but they do boast a lightweight, folding design for storing in a bag. The ATH-SR30BT is available in charcoal black and natural grey. They’ll go on sale in autumn 2018 for £99.
5. Segway Drift W1 e-skates
Talk about time for a brand re-fresh. Let’s skip over the fact that the owner (not the inventor) of the original Segway brand sadly died after he drove his Segway off a cliff, and consider Segway’s new Drift W1 e-Skates.
Previewed at IFA 2018, these electrically powered self-balancing e-skates are a tad different to the electric two-wheeler beloved of tourists on city tours. They can move up to 12 km/h, and in use their total 7kg bulk feels pretty lightweight.
The Drift W1 is available to preorder for £359, and will be available in October 2018.
6. Sony WH-1000XMK3 noise-cancelling headphones
If you are a frequent flier, there’s something addictive about good quality noise canceling headphones. Sony’s wireless WH-1000XMK3 headphones use two microphones to monitor the ambient sound levels around you, then create sound waves to cancel them out.
Four times more powerful than last year’s WH-1000XM2, the WH-1000XM3 are surprisingly lightweight, and fold up flat to fit into a supplied carry case. However, what really impresses is the battery life; 30 hours in total, with a quick 10 minute charge enough for five hours of use.
The WH-1000XM3 goes on sale in September 2018 for £330. Expensive, but worth it for frequent fliers.
7. Zagg Flex smartphone/tablet keyboard
Why take a laptop on work trips when a tablet will just about do? That’s the feeling of most of us on work trips when we want to travel light, but you can get caught out by the lack of a decent keyboard.
Cue the Zagg Flex, which is designed to work not only with all brands of tablets, but also smartphones, and even smart TVs. Attaching to any device (actually two devices simultaneously) via Bluetooth, the Zagg Flex gets rid of ‘hunt and peck’ typing on tablets and smartphones by aping a laptop-style keyboard.
Keys are backlit, and the keyboard itself is said to last a mighty year between recharges if you use it for an hour or less per day. It will go on sale soon for £70.
8. Olloclip Multi-Device Clip smartphone lens
Whatever you hear from phone-makers about their cameras, they all lack lenses than can optically zoom. Cue Olloclip’s Clip, which comes in handy for travel photography by clipping to any smartphone to offer no less than five optical – not digital – photographic enhancements.
Clipped to the top of a phone and sitting over the existing lens, the Clip has super-wide and ultra-wide modes, a 2x optical telephoto lens that gets you get twice as close to the action, a fisheye lens for getting absolutely everything in, and a macro lens for microscope-like magnification (the macro lens has both 7x and 21x magnification).
The Olloclip Multi-Device Clip will be available in mid-September for £60.