Oh how we love technology! Thanks to the efficiencies smartphones, tablets and other devices offer, business travel has never been more seamless for today’s working professional – especially during peak vacation season when your mind may be traveling to things outside of work. Just recently when we were on business in Chicago, for example, I stayed at the Hyatt Place Chicago/River North and experienced their high-tech hotel rooms. It just took a quick recharge on a nearby USB port, connection to the free Wi-Fi network and tap of a finger to quickly access files. Today it’s unbelievably easy to stay up-to-date and in touch!
As the Hyatt Place Seamless Travel Series’ Tech-spert, I was recently asked “what are the best apps to help you travel more smoothly” during a Twitter party with #TravelSkills. With hundreds of free or cost-affordable apps available for download now, you can almost manage the whole travel process from your phone. From booking your hotel room and dinner reservations to your scheduling your next flight and car service pickup, it’s important to know the best ones to utilize. For your convenience and entertainment, here are some of my favorite travel apps of all time, designed to help road warriors make the most of every trip:
No matter how complex your travel itinerary gets, you can easily manage it with this tool from most smartphones and tablets. You can track and organize your flight schedules, hotel bookings and car reservations, or pull up weather forecasts, maps and more. For business travelers, you can even use it to juggle appointments, so you don’t end up at showing up at the right time at the wrong client’s office.
Need to create a to-do list, share audio clips and images, or simply want to clip and save an interesting article you spotted for reading later? Try Evernote, an online organization app that lets you save notes, files, images, and websites you’ve bookmarked, then synchronize them across devices and access the information from anywhere. Among the best ways to keep current projects, it plays the role of virtual assistant, helping you cut through the clutter and more effectively manage your digital life.
Hunting for a hotel while on the road? Hyatt’s multilingual mobile app for Android and iPhone devices lets you book stays at hundreds of Hyatt hotels, including my personal favorite – Hyatt Place, which offers free Wi-Fi, USB recharging stations and a comfy work areas in roomy rooms specifically designed for business travelers. You can also manage reservations right from the app and access local maps or driving directions, and you can even handle check-ins and checkouts right from your pocket.
Great for getting work done while sprinting between appointments, this handy speech recognition app translates your voice into text, so you can speak your texts or emails for later use in seconds. This is also a handy way to get ideas and thoughts down on virtual paper. The next time you’re sitting at the airport and inspiration strikes, try rattling it off before you forget – you may be surprised at how brilliant a solution you’ve come up with later.
If you’re a working parent, you know how difficult it can be to stay on top of everyone’s schedule, especially while traveling. Snap One’s suite of cloud (online) apps helps solve the problem by letting you securely and privately share contacts and calendars with your family, as well as bring your files, photos, videos and documents wherever you travel. You can essentially bring your desktop along on any trip and send snapshots and videos to family back home.
Need to pickup a few common phrases for a trip overseas (Where’s the bathroom? orWhere can I find the best local restaurant?)? Rosetta Stone’s travel-friendly app helps you brush up on various languages to easily translate dialogue or practice your pronunciation. There’s also a desktop version that offers live chats and group activities so you can quickly go from flustered to fluent.
Numerous apps from FaceTime to Google Hangouts make it possible to easily videoconference with clients and colleaguesfrom a variety of gadgets. But Skype remains among the most widely popular solutions for mobile meetings or phoning back home to say helloin realtime. Suitable for both personal and professional use, it provides a free and seamless solution for video chats, so you can enjoy some face-to-face time with clients and coworkers, and – wherever you travel – be there to tuck your kids in and say goodnight.
This post was sponsored by Hyatt Place as part of its Seamless Travel Series. The opinions are my own and based on my experience.
While it’s hard to believe just how fast summer has flown by, the new school season is finally here and in full swing for students of all ages. With millions of teens, tweens, and school-aged kids returning or preparing to head back to classrooms nationwide, now’s the perfect time to consider giving your family’s learning experience a 21st century upgrade. Offering a more engaging and interactive approach to lectures, lessons and guided instruction, technology provides a great hands-on complement to traditional teaching methods, helping kids get more out of every learning exercise. Here, we’ve teamed up with some top tech companies to highlight a number of great gadgets that can enhance education both inside and out of the classroom.
Right off the bat, one tip to keep in mind when shopping for a new computer, laptop or tablet is to start by picking an operating system that offers students lots of learning tools. With Windows 8 devices, for example, you get support for programs like Office 365 University, multitasking tools like Snap, study apps like Flashcards Pro, and free online backup and sharing with SkyDrive. There’s a wide range of Windows 8 devices for every need and budget as well: The OS is available on desktop, portable and tablet PCs alike. Right now, Microsoft is currently running a “Chip-In” program where friends and family can contribute money towards the purchase of a Windows 8 PC as well: Microsoft will actually chip in a 10% discount with free shipping and no tax – a great deal, especially if you’re on a budget.
One of many great laptops that runs the operating system and comes highly recommended for college and high school students is the HP Pavilion 11 TouchSmart Notebook, which is powered by the latest AMD A-series dual-core processor. In plain English, that means that students can enjoy a super-powerful, touchscreen laptop that’s well-suited to education or entertainment purposes. Lightweight and portable, the system also happens to be surprisingly affordable, clocking in at under $400. One feature you’ll especially enjoy about the HP TouchSmart notebook is that it can also resume from sleep mode in seconds for fast access to email, social media, music and more, given built-in AMD Start Now Technology. A fun and user-friendly study tool, it’s also an unexpectedly cost-conscious solution as well.
If your student is one of many who uses their iPhone to access educational apps and study, organize and learn, then you also know that battery life can be a concern as well. Thankfully, Duracell’s Powermat iPhone 5 solutions offer a way to more than double your iPhone 5’s battery life so you’re never caught without power. Its handy AccessCase protects your device, while snap-on, snap-off battery attachments let you pack as much power as you need and a portable TravelMat allows for easy to-go wireless charging. The company also just came out with its new wireless backup battery line called Go Power which works with both micro and regular USB port devices – i.e. many popular mobile gadgets. It offers three backup battery power options, so no matter how long students are away from power sources, they can keep their devices from dying.
If you’re looking for more awesome educational apps and gadgets, you might also check out the following solutions, just a few of many high-tech learning tools now available to students.
- Evernote – Clips and stores text, photos, web pages and more so you never lose track of your thoughts.
- PBS Parents Play and Learn – Offers fun games and activities that teach kids about math, reading and more.
- Graphing Calculator – Saves you from buying a standalone scientific calculator.
- Learn With Homer – Introduces children to the magic of reading.
- Studious – Helps with planning and organizing homework assignments.
- Kindle Paperwhite – The popular eBook reader offers on-demand access to thousands of textbooks, books, and periodicals.
- Belkin Ultimate Keyboard Case – Protects your tablet PC while adding a travel-friendly physical keyboard, great for typing longer documents.
- Microsoft Surface Pro – Provides a powerful and versatile hands-on portable computing experience, marrying the best features of tablet PCs and traditional laptops.
- Parrot Zik Headphones – In addition to awesome audio quality, these critically-acclaimed cans also offer noise-canceling capabilities, handy when studying in shared spaces or during late-night cram sessions.
From massively online open courses to learning apps, it’s clear that technology is quickly reshaping the face of education. The good news for kids, parents and teachers alike: You can’t find a better tool to instantly grab and engage students.
With the rising popularity of tablets and the increasing versatility of smartphones, you might wonder if there’s still any room for the desktop PC. Absolutely. Desktop computers are bulky compared to sleek tablets and laptops, but they’re still the powerhouses of the computing world—and many of them are surprisingly affordable. PCs are still the best option for parents that want to exercise full control over their younger kids’ computing habits, and most game enthusiasts swear by their desktop rigs.
Simply put, a day may come when the desktop PC is irrelevant, but that day is still a long way off. And if you’re looking to buy, there’s no shortage of great options. Here are 2013’s top 5 PCs.
Dell Inspiron 660’s – These lightweight and affordable computers are packed with features, but start at a sensible $349.99 USD (monitor not included). Each model is equipped with Windows 8 and has more than enough power to run games and social networks. Perfect for families.
Apple iMac 27 Inch – The all-in-one iMac is as sleek and professional as ever. The 27-inch model, released late 2012, is remarkably thin. It also features more processing muscle and storage than previous iterations.
Acer Predator G3 – It sounds intimidating, but this sleek black computer from Acer is perfect for a household. It comes installed with a wireless adapter, and it boasts plenty of RAM for getting tasks done. It has a DVD player rather than a Blu-ray player, but given the falling costs of Blu-ray players, remedying that shouldn’t be a problem.
Cyberpower Black Pearl – If you’re big into heavy-duty PC gaming, you need all the power you can get—but if money’s a problem, you may have to compromise a little. The CyberPower Black Pearl isn’t a top-of-the-line gaming PC, but it packs an impressive processing punch for the asking price.
MicroExpress MicroFLEX 37B – The MicroFLEX 37B is another affordable desktop PC that’s engineered for hardcore gaming. Its liquid cooling system and hot-swap drive bay keeps things cool while its innards heat up, keeping you in the game.