T+L took hundreds of products out on the road to determine the best of the bunch: the latest gadgets that promise to change the way we travel.
Pack my tablet or my laptop? It's a dilemma those who travel lightly have faced-until this year.
The emergence of convertible PC laptops, such as the HP Envy x2, which has a touch screen that attaches and detaches from its keyboard, eliminates the need to choose. It's one of the winners of theTravel + Leisure Tech Awards, the result of a year's trials to determine the most useful and innovative travel gadgets.
The laptop-meets-tablet trend kicked off in October 2012 with the touch screen-optimized Windows 8 operating system, the first designed to work on both computers and tablets. But even non-hybrids like the iPad can take on laptop-like functionality thanks to the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover, which connects seamlessly via Bluetooth and doubles as a screen protector.
On vacation, however, the last thing you may want is a device that reminds you of your office computer. Dedicated tablets will reach $1.2 billion in 2013 sales, according to technology research firm Gartner. A few leisurely ways to use yours: reading a potboiler on the beach, catching up on TV episodes back at the hotel, and posting photos to social media right in the moment.
There are more tablet sizes and features than ever, as evidenced by the Nexus 7, with a seven-inch screen and mobile broadband connectivity. It runs Jelly Bean, the latest version of Android. Google Now automatically informs you of nearby venues, and Google Maps offers unparalleled navigation, even for walking.
Smaller and more prevalent still are smartphones, now with innovations like the iPhone 5's Passport, which lets you store virtual loyalty cards and electronic boarding passes in one place. With features like HTC One X's burst mode-taking up to 99 shots in rapid succession-smartphones continue to replace cameras for an increasing number of travelers.
Photo buffs and those setting out on a dream trip will still appreciate the flexibility and nuance of a DSLR camera like the Pentax K-30. It's waterproof, shockproof, and dust-proof, so don't think twice about carrying it along on a ski trip, cruise, or safari.
And for the peace of mind that comes with a smooth flight, add one of the latest portable headphones to your travel gadgets wish list. We've done the research for you.