Gadgets & Gizmos

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Hit the open road with the ultimate road trip

roadtrip.jpg

Summer is a perfect time for a road trip with your buddies. But before you pack the SUV and hit the pavement, here are some tips from Best Buy's Geek Squad with some tech tips for travelers.

Travel Tunes – Every road warrior knows that a road trip is not a road trip without the ultimate playlist to set the vibe. So first, make sure your vehicle is MP3 player ready by installing a car adapter so you can play tunes through your car speakers. For travel companions that can’t come to a consensus on a playlist, the Tripmix app (iPhone, $1.99) allows you to listen to your music without the hassle of deciding what you want to listen to. You can also pick your favorite artists or songs, and create a station on Pandora (iPhone and Android, free). (If you need help with any of your technology while you’re on the road or would like an MP3 player dock built into your dashboard, contact any of the 20,000 Geek Squad Agents available nationwide.)

Put on your Car Game Face – Nothing kills time on a road trip like a good car game, but on your next trip, skip the game of i-spy, and geek-ify the ride with apps such as State Plate (iPhone, $1.99, and Android, free) that challenges you to hunt for license plates from all over the U.S. You can also test your brain with trivia apps like TriviaRoad (Android, free), a trivia game that covers all your favorite topics from pop culture to food. For the history buff out there, download US Trivia (iPhone, $1.99).

Make a pit stop – There's no doubt you'll find yourself pulling off the road for snacks, bathroom breaks or maybe even a hotel. Use these tips to help find out what's around you, and to avoid sticker shock at the gas pump.

  • With the AroundMe app (iPhone and Android, free) you won’t have to worry about being aware of your surroundings, as this app tells you all the points of interest that are located near you. It detects your current location and lets you select from categories such as bars, cafés, hospitals, and hotels to filter through the results.
  • If you're looking to fill up the gas tank, look no further than Gas Buddy (iPhone and Android, free), an app that locates stations near you and shows current prices, so you never overpay for gas again.
Dude, where are we? – Sure, getting lost in the middle of nowhere may make for a funny story, but what’s not so funny is losing all that valuable time in the process. So to prevent arriving in Seattle instead of South Beach, make sure to update your GPS maps before your trip. After all, a GPS is only as good as its maps. Garmin map updates costs about $69.99, and TomTom charges between $99.99 and $129.99 depending on the map and device. Maps are updated approximately four times a year. As an alternative, you can also check out Google Maps (iPhone and Android) for directions via car, public transit or your own two feet. 

Some GPS systems even offer traffic alerts to ensure you’re always one step ahead of the game. You can install many of these on your windshield, but if you want one cleanly installed in the dashboard of your car, Geek Squad can help. Just call 1-800-GEEK SQUAD, visit geeksquad.com or stop by any Geek Squad precinct in a Best Buy store.

Stay in charge of the recharge – Did your iPod die right in the middle of blasting your favorite song? Did your laptop or tablet run out of battery power when you and your buddies were watching movies in the back seat? Any tech gadget you bring on your road trip is no good unless it’s fully charged. There are some easy ways to preserve battery life to make sure you don’t drain out at the wrong time.

  • Keep your brightness settings low to help save battery life. 
  • Switch off non essentials on your MP3 players by lowering the backlight and turning off the equalizer, which both tend to accelerate battery burn out.
  • If your gadget has a hold button, always put it on hold when not in use. This way nothing can accidentally push or knock the play button.

For help with all your technology needs, call 1-800-GEEK SQUAD to set up an onsite consultation, find a location near you at www.geeksquad.com, or visit the Geek Squad Precinct at Best Buy and other locations to speak with an Agent directly. We provide our services wherever and whenever you need them – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Photo: iStockphoto.com

[Last modified: Monday, July 2, 2012 8:05pm]

    

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