Everybody loves a good road trip. The worst part about a road trip is the hours of sitting idly in the car with nothing more to look at than the desert passing by on the other side of the window. Gone are the days of portable DVD players, now it is tablets and audio books that dominate road trip media. Tablets are great, but without a large amount of storage capacity and a stable internet connection, watching movies or TV shows can be difficult. In a moving car, getting a stable internet connection is nearly impossible, especially when driving in areas of low population density. For those who want to stay connected on the road, Nerds On Call has put together a short list of gadgets that could help make those hours fly by.
The first road trip gadget we Nerds recommend is the Seagate Wireless External Hard Drive. For $129.99, the Seagate External drive broadcast’s its own wireless network for other devices to connect to through their WiFi networks lists. This allows passengers to stream their favorite movies and TV shows through online services such as Netflix or Hulu. The signal provided by this gadget can be used for up to three users streaming HD video simultaneously. Since the drive is battery powered, it can be charged through a vehicle’s outlet using a USB adapter. This device is a great idea for those who want to stay connected no matter where they are, or for how long.
Another great road trip gadget is the Belkin Road Rockstar. This little piece of technology runs about $40, and plugs into a single cigarette lighter. The Road Rockstar turns the outlet into a charging hub for up to 4 devices. The front dash adapter offers two USB ports optimized for smartphone charging, as well as a six foot cable to reach the back seats. There are also two USB hubs on the extension that are optimized to charge tablets, meaning that everybody can have their device fully juiced up for the entire trip, and never have to worry about adjusting brightness or other battery-saving functions. In addition to the Road Rockstar, Belkin offers another road trip gadget called the Belkin Rockstar. This is essentially an audio splitter that allows up to 5 different sets of headphones to be connected to the same audio device, providing each listener a chance to set their own volume preference. The Rockstar makes it so parents don’t have to sit through another round of Frozen songs while the kids in the back ask them to turn up the volume.
Kids are some of the most difficult road trip passengers because they are easily distracted. It is easy enough for parents to tell them to be quiet and put in their headphones, but this is not necessarily a good thing. For most kids, normal headphones can play music at a damaging volume. The KidzControl Volume Limit Headphones aim to fix this problem. These headphones keep the kids’ audio to safe decibels, while also including a microphone to play interactive games without having to randomly shout out the answer in the hopes that the program hears. These headphones are great for kids to avoid a noisy car full of gadgets and are useful for educational tools such as Rosetta Stone for when school starts again.
No matter the destination, Americans love a good road trip. Maybe it is because it spurs our sense of freedom, or maybe just because we like to get away from home; one thing is for sure, and that is that road trips can be long and boring. By investing in some of the useful gadgets above, boredom will be a thing of the past on your next family road trip, and it may actually make the drive the most enjoyable part of the road trip.
About The Author: Andrea Eldridge is CEO and co-founder of Nerds On Call, a computer repair company that specializes in on-site and online service for homes and businesses. Andrea is the writer of a weekly column, Nerd Chick Adventures in The Record Searchlight. She prepares TV segments for and appears regularly on CBS, CW and FOX on shows such as Good Day Sacramento, More Good Day Portland, and CBS 13 News, offering viewers technology and lifestyle tips. See Andrea in action at callnerds.com/andrea/.
Keba: All right, it is summer, which means summer vacations. Today in Tech Tuesday we are talking about those road trips. Ryan Eldridge co-founder on Nerds On Call. Hey Ryan?
Keba: We are talking about what’s going to make that road trip easier, not just for mom and dad. Let’s think about, sometimes kids go off to their grandparents’ home. So we want to help grandma, grandpa and mom and dad.
Ryan: Yeah, when I was a kid, when we traveled in the ’70s, which is forever ago, they gave us a book and a little hand-held thing and that battery didn’t last for very long. So these days the kids got tablets and we go, “Oh, good, that’s got them covered.” But we load up our tablets with games and different things like that, but we don’t have a lot of space for music and movies. We think “Oh, we’ll just stream it from Netflix or something.”
Ryan: You can’t, because when you are on the road your Internet connection is slow. If you’re using a mobile connection it can be really expensive, if you hit your data caps. So that’s the first product that we’re going to talk about.
Keba: Okay. What do we have?
Ryan: This is called the Seagate Wireless. The cool part about this is you can load it up with a USB drive from your computer. Load it up with all the movies and different kinds of things that you want, and then up to three people can stream from that device. So they’re sitting in the back watching movies directly from that device. It’s a $130, and it will save you a lot of headaches.
Keba: Okay, right here, Seagate Wireless. Easy to use? Mom, dad, grandma, we all can figure this out?
Ryan: If you can hook up a USB drive to your laptop and drag items to your thing, you’re easy. This will automatically broadcast a wireless signal called Seagate Wireless. You just hook your tablet right up to it and you can get to all the content.
Keba: You’re good to go. We have the Belkin Road Rockstar.
Ryan: Yeah, this is really cool; we didn’t expect this at all. We contacted Belkin about something else and they sent us this. This is two ports in the front, so you put it in your console so you can charge your phones in the front seat. But the best part is the six foot extension cable with two ports for you to connect to tablets in the back seat. It clips onto the back seat’s pocket, so that makes it nice and easy to use. That’s kind of cool, right?
Keba: I like that, I like the long cord. Get it from the front to the back. What about headphones for kids?
Ryan: This is something that my kid uses all the time, he uses it for school when he does his Rosetta Stone. This is safe for kids at the right decibel. So my son cranks up the volume as loud as it can go . . .
Keba: Oh, he likes it loud.
Ryan: But this won’t allow him. This will allow only at the safe decibel. It comes with a microphone for $29, so he can play interactive games and yell at Cookie Monster all he wants without making his sister go, “What! What’s going on?”
Keba: Not too loud for his ears.
Ryan: Nice and quiet, when you listen to it you can hear everything, but he can’t crank it up to that unsafe level that can hurt his ears.
Keba: Okay, we have another Belkin product.
Ryan: So this is the last Belkin product, this is a five port thing for your headphones. So let’s say you’re watching the Frozen movie, which is my three-year-old’s favorite. If you crank that up in the stereo on the car, you can’t hear it in the back or the front seat is going, “Oh, please Elsa, shush.”
Keba: Make it stop!
Ryan: Yes, so you plug this in and up to five different headphones can listen in to that same device.
Keba: So they call can listen to the same thing without you, the driver, having to hear it?
Ryan: Yeah, I can sit there and listen to my news or whatever I want to listen to and I don’t have to listen to Elsa say, “Let it go, dear God let it go.”
Keba: Okay, as we wrap it up, we have one quick bonus device.
Ryan: Yes, I did have a bonus device. This is kind of cool. So this is called the Mophie, this is a charger for your iPhone. You hook it into your iPhone; it gives you a 100% more battery life. The best part is, it’s waterproof. So if you accidentally toss it in the water or jump in after your kid in the pool, you can save your phone.
Keba: So a portable charger for the iPhone?
Ryan: Yeah, it’s a portable charger for your iPhone. It’s just a case that you put on your iPhone, you get a 100% more battery life and it’s waterproof.
Keba: How much is that?
Ryan: I think it’s $100, you can get it at Best Buy or any electronic store.
Keba: All right, Ryan Eldridge, co-founder of Nerds On Call. Good, good ideas for those road trips.
Keba: Thank you. All right, Mike over to you.