|The Geneva Model XS is a foldable, portable speaker system that flattens into a water-resistant leather case. Inside that 6.2 by 1.8 by 3.7-inch exterior is a rather potent set of speakers, including two tweeters and a subwoofer for extra bass. It's $249 at baybloorradio.com. (Supplied)
Looking to squeeze a few last hurrahs into your summer? We've got one holiday weekend left, and with a new school year on the horizon and leaves already threatening to drop from the trees, there's no better time to skip town. These travel-ready apps and gadgets could go a long way on your long weekend getaway.
It's the 21st-century answer to the pop-up travel alarm clock. The Geneva Model XS is a foldable, portable speaker system that flattens into a water-resistant leather case. Inside that 6.2 by 1.8 by 3.7-inch exterior is a rather potent set of speakers, including two tweeters and a subwoofer for extra bass. It has an integrated digital FM tuner, as well as Bluetooth connectivity (to play back from smartphones and tablets) and a 3.5mm port to play from devices with a headphone jack (a cable is included). You can play up to five hours on one charge of its rechargeable battery and -- of course -- it functions as an alarm clock, too. It's $249 at baybloorradio.com.
Getting set to jet? It's important to stay on top of your arrivals and departures. Many airlines now offer their own apps that will keep you updated on the status of your flight, but in the interest of saving real estate on your phone, try an app like Flight Tracker. This iPhone/iPad app will let you check on the status and location (via tracking map) of commercial flights worldwide, searchable by aircraft registration, route, airline, flight number, destination city and city of origin, or airport code. Even better -- you can get push notifications for gate changes and delays to your flight, so you're always ready for takeoff. It's free at the Apple App Store.
Some people are natural suitcase-packers. You probably know one -- the friend or family member that shows up for vacations with two weeks' worth of clothing changes shoehorned into a tiny carry-on, and never, ever forgets to bring enough socks. The rest of us, however, might need a little advance planning. If you want to get really intense, try Packing Pro -- not only can you use this app to whip up a list of all the stuff you need, but you can access sample lists built from its huge item database with suggestions on what to bring, use your list (or the samples) as template lists for the future, and organize it a number of different ways. The Expert function has been compared to the Genius playlist generator in iTunes -- input how many people are going on the trip, the climate, and the purpose of the trip, and it will give you ideas for what to take along. It's $2.99 at the Apple App Store.
Unfortunately, the road is not always a work-free zone. Sometimes, the real world manages to sneak its way into your vacation. (I myself wrote an edition of this column from the Italian alps last summer -- which I painstakingly typed into my phone.) Verbatim's Ultra-Slim Bluetooth Keyboard could make a perfect travel companion if you elect to leave your laptop at home: It pairs well with a number of XID-enabled gadgets, including the iPad, iPhone, Samsung Galaxy Tab and Motorola Xoom devices. Shortcut keys will make typing (and copying, pasting, and undo-ing) on a smartphone a breeze. The keyboard is about as thick as your average pencil, charges via USB, and comes with a carrying case. If I'd had one of these bad boys last summer, it would have saved me several hours of hunting-and-pecking on an iPhone keyboard. Pick one up for $47.99 at futureshop.ca.