So what makes it into FascinatingTravel's festive suitcase this year? Read our travel gift guide below to find out.
By Ruth with contributions from Garry
We'll start with an item Ruth reviewed last issue the fabulous SpareOne phone
. We have no hesitation to recommend this to any traveller or festival goer. It would make the perfect gift for virtually any member of the family and don't forget to take advantage of the discount mentioned at the end of last issue's review
Our second recommendation is a great new tablet the Toshiba Encore Mini 7 - a full blown Windows 8.1 tablet in a 7 inch form factor at sub 100GBP which Garry takes a look at
This is a really superb device which I have been using for the last couple of weeks. Toshiba's PR agency advised us this was seen to be a companion device and probably not your sole computer but if all you use your PC for is to browse the web and read emails then this is more than adequate and far more portable than a laptop or even a netbook. It doesn't have a keyboard or even a full sized USB port to plug one in (it does have a micro-usb for charging like most phones) so you will probably have to get used to using an onscreen keyboard but this isn't at all bad. It does support bluetooth so you could use a bluetooth keyboard and mouse with it. As it also supports Intel's Wireless Display technology and, although not stated in the spec, Miracast you can use these to send the screen wirelessly to a supported display. In this configuration it actually makes a pretty good desktop PC.
However it is designred to be portable and it is excellent in that mode. Being a full Windows 8 device it has none of the limitations of say the Surface RT and Surface 2 and can run any Desktop applications you like (including iTunes). It will also run some older games quite well but don't expect to be doing anything too graphics hungry. It excels when running apps from the Windows Store. These run full screen and are very easy to use with touch. The desktop is a little fiddly to use wth touch but I did find it OK to use the version of Word built in to write a letter or two. Yes I did say Word - this little 99 UK pound beast comes with a year's license to Office 365 for two devices, that alone could set you back over half the cost if bought separately. This is just great value for money.
I really like the Mini 7 it has a great balance of performance and reasonable battery life - it doesn't seem to suffer the issue that some other 7inch Windows tablets do in losing power whilst switched off. My only slight criticism is that the native screen resolution is less than the screen resolution required for Windows 8.1 so this is scaled up leading to some slight jaggedness.
All in all for the price you just can't go wrong. It would be a great addition to any stocking and perfect for the traveller.
Our next could have been included in the audio gift guide but is also a perfect travel accesory The TDK Trek Micro wireless speaker which Ruth has been trying out.
Forget TDK of tape deck fame from years ago the company does far more and it is keen to raise profile to let people know all the devices it now offers.
This is a small clip on speaker. It is perfect to clip onto a rucksack and was clipped onto my top. The great thing is that it is not too heavy so it does not tend to pull your top down.
The built in Bluetooth connectivity can use NFC to get a quick connection and allows you to stream wirelessly. If you get two of them you can pair them to have stereo.
It does have an auxiliary output if you have a device without Bluetooth which can be handy. It is splash proof so probably not suitable for serious storms but likely to withstand some British drizzle.
Now sound wise I think the statement that you get what you pay for applies to this. It is a good mid- range speaker of this size. It does not have the full bass and detail and distorts a little at the high treble end. It will not have the detail and roundness that you would get in a high end speaker. Say you listen to Adele it will come across as gravelly rather than with the smoothness that you would get from a high end speaker. It is not unpleasant to listen to but you won’t be pushing the volume up to maximum volume. That is not to say you cannot have a reasonable volume but you won’t be pumping up the volume as this little speaker is limited by its small size.
It is a decent travel speaker and 6 hours battery life is practical off one charge. Good for listening on the move and light weight with a small enough form factor. I would certainly consider packing this and at the price (29.99 GBP on Amazon) it would make a really good present.
If you are travelling then you need to power your devices and you can't go wrong with our sponsor Energizer's range of power packs. We're not just saying that because they are sponsoring us - you can read the review
Ruth wrote back before she knew we were being sponsored. We love these because they come charged and retain that charge for a long time when switched off. Perfect when you want to give a boost to that Christmas gadget.