Tech review: Three gadgets that make summer vacation easier | Nation

Roben Walker

I’ve been busy reviewing gadgets this summer, but I almost always have a backlog of items to consider.

An overnight trip recently allowed me to review two items — some luggage and a flashlight — while a third one stayed at home and kept my lights on.

Samsara Tag Smart AirTag Luggage

I’m a big fan of Apple’s AirTags, which are small tracking devices you can attach to anything you don’t want to lose.

I currently have an AirTag on my keychain and my wallet, and I can’t tell you how often I use my iPhone to find them. The beauty of the AirTag is that you can use your iPhone to find it if you are within Bluetooth range of 50 feet or less.

I’ve seen several stories online about people attaching AirTags to their luggage to help keep track of their bags during a trip, especially after you check that bag at the airport.

There are lots of third-party luggage tags with AirTag holders, but a thief can easily remove them.

I’ve been testing a case with a built-in spot for an AirTag that’s accessible only from inside the bag. Samsara Tag Smart AirTag Luggage ships with an AirTag, saving you the trouble of buying it yourself.

The AirTag means you can keep track of the location with the Find My app on your iPhone. Sorry, but Android phone users can’t track AirTags and won’t find this much use.

There are three sizes of Tag Smart bags, and the Carry-on ($265), Grand Carry-on ($295) and Checked bags ($370) are available in yellow or black. The shells are made of polycarbonate, and the frame is aluminum.

There are also all-aluminum versions of the mid-sized bag that cost $445. All the bags can be found at samsaraluggage.com.

I tested the Grand Carry-on in yellow. It measures 9 inches by 15 inches by 22.5 inches and weighs just 10.8 pounds, and it has a capacity of 43.5 liters.

The handle retracts fully into the case, making for a flat top that can be used as a desk for your laptop if you are sitting at the airport.

The bag has four 360-degree spinner wheels for smooth pulling, and each of the two latches is a TSA-approved combination lock.

The inside is lined with a durable plastic liner with a zipper closure on one side and elastic strap on the other side. There are handles on the top and side for easy pick up.

The bag is really sturdy and easy to pull, and it has successfully accompanied my wife and me on three weekend trips so far this summer.

Pros: Includes an AirTag and has a tough, hard shell with easy rolling.

Cons: A bit pricey.

Bottom line: This is a bag that will last a long time and help you find it if it is lost.

Infinity X1 Hybrid Power Flashlight

I’m a flashlight nut, and my last few purchases have been rechargeable lights.

The new Infinity X1 ($89, infinityx1.com) has two ways to power it.

Open the box and you’ll find a carrier for AA batteries and a rechargeable battery pack. You can choose which one you use.

The rechargeable battery has a built-in USB cable. Just plug it into any available USB port to charge.

The rechargeable battery also has its own USB port so you can use that battery to charge your phone or any other device that can be charged via USB.

The X1 has a maximum brightness of 5,000 lumens, and it’ll blind you if you look into the light.

The metal case of the X1 gets hot if you have the light set to maximum brightness for more than a minute or two.

Pressing the power button will cycle through several brightness settings.

Above the power button, you’ll find a row of four LEDs to show you the battery level.

The X1 is made from aluminum, and the lens is adjustable to focus the beam of light from narrow to very wide.

This is a versatile flashlight. It is strong enough to survive being run over by a car.

Pros: Two power sources, including rechargeable, and it can charge other devices.

Cons: Gets hot to the touch at the highest setting.

Bottom line: Rechargeable, sturdy and really bright. All good things in a flashlight.

Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plug Mini

Adding a smart plug is one of the easiest ways to control your devices like lamps or kitchen appliances and work your way toward a smart home.

Smart plugs are small single-plug outlets that plug into an existing AC outlet. The smart plugs connect to your home’s Wi-Fi network and allow you to turn the power on and off remotely, from your phone or by using your voice with a home assistant like Amazon’s Alexa or Google’s Assistant.

Kasa Smart has been in the smart plug business for several years, and now it has introduced a Wi-Fi Plug Mini (EP25) that also adds Apple HomeKit compatibility.

If you have Alexa or Google Assistant or HomeKit, you can ask the hub to scan for new devices and control the plug with your voice.

The EP25 runs on your home’s 2.4 gigahertz Wi-Fi and it has a maximum load of 15 watts. The form factor is small enough to allow two of these to be plugged into the same outlet, and there is a power button on the EP25 if you want to turn it on or off manually.

To get set up, plug in the EP25, download the Kasa Smart app and begin the device setup.

You’ll add the plug to your home’s Wi-Fi network and give it a name.

Once the setup is complete, you can control the outlet from your phone, including setting a schedule to turn it on or off each day (or multiple times per day). You can also set a timer to turn the plug off after a preset period of time. The app also has Away Mode that will randomly turn the plug on and off, which is handy if you have an EP25 attached to a lamp.

The EP25 also has a built-in energy monitoring system.

The app has a monitoring tab that shows the exact power usage for whatever you have plugged in. This is handy if you want to see how much electricity your refrigerator or hair dryer uses.

The EP25 is available in a four-pack for $49.99 from Amazon. A two-pack is also planned for later this year.

Pros: Small, easy to set up, shows energy consumption.

Cons: None.

Bottom line: This is a cheap and easy way to add smart outlets to your home.

https://www.fltimes.com/news/nation/tech-review-three-gadgets-that-make-summer-vacation-easier/article_7f060f44-c1e2-5658-91e9-e810de16713f.html

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