Entertainment in Your Pocket
Had enough of lame in-flight entertainment? the av340 video and music player from French firm Archos might just be the answer to mile-high boredom. Its 40-GB hard disk can easily store 30 feature films to watch on its 9.7-cm color screen, and still leave room for a few thousand MP3 tracks. All this in a package that weighs just 0.35 kg. The Archos ($1,000) can record straight from TV or hi-fi, so you don't have to waste time compressing audio and video files on your computer. And when you land, you can hook it up to your hotel's TV or stereo and play your downloads.
If music is all you need to while away long-haul hours, try the smaller, lighter Apple iPod. It comes in three handy sizes 10 GB ($415, 2,500 songs), 20 GB ($500, 5,000 songs) and a new 40-GB ($665, 10,000 songs) mini-monster. Copying tracks over to the iPod is easy and almost automatic.
A humbler travel buddy is the iRiver SlimX iMP-550 ($280). It looks like a regular portable CD player, but also plays CD-R-burned MP3s, each of which can hold 11 hours of music enough to entertain you halfway across the world.
Byte-Size USB Fun
If you don't spend all your free time with your nose buried in a computing magazine, you could be forgiven for not knowing. But USB gadgets (known as "key rings") are hot. These are miniature devices typically digital cameras or MP3 players that plug directly into your USB port for easy up- and downloading on the road. They're cute and trendy and getting more useful all the time. This summer Philips introduced two models for Mac or PC, priced from $99 to $149.
The company's MP3 Key Ring comes in 64-MB and 128-MB sizes just right for a short music playlist. Some versions even sport an innovative lanyard with volume and track-skip controls woven right into the fabric.
Meanwhile, Philips' 1.3-megapixel camera (64 MB or 128 MB) weighs in at just 34 g. The device is also ultralight on options, but essentially it's every bit the discreet, James Bond spy cam your camera phone wishes it could be.