Best New Travel Gear: iPod Touch.
At the risk of pushing the limits on the credibility of my mantra – Gear is Good, Vision is Better – I’m about to tell you why I fell in love with the iPod again.
First you should know that I don’t listen to music via those little white – or any – headphones very often. I don’t like how they further entrench the notion that we’re all individuals in our own little world. I don’t like how they tune people – or more to the point, me – out and isolate me from the world. I know, that’s the point. I’m just saying I don’t like it. We could all use a little more connection, not less.
But then the iPod Touch came out. The recent price reductions were no surprise and on the day the price changed my local MacStation sold me an 8gb iPod Touch for a price I couldn’t resist. Sure, it holds my entire Bruce Cockburn collection, but as I so rarely listen to music, it hardly justifies the price. When I do listen to music it’s while travelling and that’s where the rest of the features really shine…
What makes the iPod touch a traveling photographer’s dream? Here’s my list.
1. Custom portfolios made of small jpgs and imported via iPhoto – about the only thing I ever use iPhoto for. But I can pull my iPod out in cars, planes, restaurants, and show people my work on a bright colourful screen. I love this.
2. World Clock. I can set a load of clocks to specific cities around the world and know at a moment’s glance what time it is around the globe. Heading out on a mult-leg trip? Just create one clock for each stop and you’re never guessing or doing the math. Math and I don’t get along.
3. Speaking of math, I use a currency converter – might have paid $3 for it – and I can set multiple world currencies in the same way I do my world clocks. At any given time i can pull it out and let it do the math. In January I’ll be spending money in Canada, USA, Cuba, Germany, Egypt, Thailand, Nepal, Vietnam, S. Korea – so I’ll set my converter for all those currencies and each time I connect to the internet it’ll update with the current exchange values.
4. Access to any Wifi spot I can find, and with less effort than whipping out the Macbook. Tonight I walked down to my favourite restaurant here, logged on while waiting for my meal, and checked my email. Yeah, I can do it with my laptop, but sometimes you don’t want to lug the thing around.
5. A world of free apps and games. Matt Brandon turned me on to a bunch of these – how about an app that turns your ipod into a flashlight? A level you can use to check how level your camera is? A hyperfocal distance chart? Ok, I’m kidding about the last one. Sure there are apps that have them, but, uh, why? (please don’t answer this one, I dread the flood of hate mail I’ll get from hyperfocal distance fanatics.) There are apps for checking your flights with various airlines, too.
I know that many of us need one more gadget the way we need a kick in the head with a sharp hockey skate, and at least one reader has begged me to stop recommending this stuff. But this one gadget has proven itself increasingly useful. I could never justify the price for a toy like a portable music player, but for a travel tool like the iPod Touch, it’s much easier. This baby will come on every trip with me from now on. Or until it breaks, which by look of my 1-year warranty, should be in about 11 months. Sigh.
I know the iPhone does all this too, but as a Canadian who gets absolutely scalped by the data plans Canadian carriers offer, I’d be paying the price of a new iPod Touch each month to use it the way I want to. So until the government does the right thing and socializes data plans the same way they do with important medications, and safe injection sites, I’ll stick to the iPod Touch.
I’m off for a couple days – going out of the city for a couple days, and if it goes to plan I’ll be back here on Sunday in time to pack for a couple days in the south of Nepal to document some work for a pro-bono client. So next week will be busy and it’s not likely I’ll post regularily. As always, thanks for your patience.
Have a great weekend. Remember the mangled words of Crosby, Stills, and Nash – if you can’t shoot the one you love, shoot the one you’re with.