Power Travel

The MP3 Player, GPS, and PDA

Mar 1, 2006
Outside Magazine
Garmin Nüvi 350, iAudio X5, & HP iPaq 6515

Garmin Nüvi 350, iAudio X5, & HP iPaq 6515

Ultimate Travel Tool // Garmin Nüvi 350
This miraculous little gadget rides in your pocket, always knows where you are (thanks to GPS), and, with its alluring digital voice, can guide you to the British Museum while supplying ticket prices and hours and finding London's best fish and chips along the way. Add language software ($75) and the Nüvi translates text into nine languages and dialects—and even plays the words out loud to check pronunciation. With 700MB of memory plus an SD-memory-card slot, it also plays MP3s and audiobooks, and will convert currency, store images, and screen a slide show of the day's adventure. A North American database is included; optional travel guides cost $75–$160 per region. Reality Check It's pricey before added software. But It If You want to exchange a bag full of maps, guidebooks, and phrase books for a wallet-size assistant. $969; www.garmin.com

Sound Master // iAudio X5
Steve Jobs may rule Silicon Valley, but the iPod doesn't entirely own the MP3 universe. Here's an alternative made for audiophiles who will trade iPod cool for radio reception and superior sound control. The X5 offers precise fine-tuning, and the cigarette-pack-size unit crams in an FM receiver and a built-in recorder that's good for anything from keeping an audio journal to capturing sound direct from a TV. It even competes on the video front, with a razor-sharp 260,000-color screen on which you can watch movies converted to MPEG-4. Travel bonus: The built-in USB slot allows easy image transfer straight from your camera. Reality Check With all those features, the controls aren't as simple as the iPod's interface. But It If You want radio and recording, and don't like being restricted to Apple's proprietary file format. 20GB, $300; 60GB, $440; www.cowonamerica.com

The Swiss Army Knife // HP iPaq 6515
If more is good, is most best? HP thinks so, and the company loaded this souped-up PDA with phone, e-mail, Web browser, camera, GPS, MP3 player, and more. Take for granted that it's a full Windows Mobile 2003–based PDA, with QWERTY keyboard and all the standard functions. What puts this handheld over the top is the fully functioning GPS receiver, which, with added software (about $100), allows city/highway route-finding and customized topographic maps. The 1.3-megapixel camera is good enough to take adequate, albeit small, pictures, and SD and mini-SD memory slots let you build on the 50MB of internal memory for MP3 files or photos. And, of course, it has Bluetooth as well. Reality Check The camera feature is marginal; don't rely on it for recording an album's worth of trip photos. But It If You want an all-in-one gadget for work and travel. $599; www.hp.com

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