Top Gadgets for Your Summer
Technology contributor Becky Worley tries out the best tech for this summer.
June 18, 2009 — -- Planning for an outdoor adventure usually involves maps and guidebooks, but thanks to Google's new Trike, you'll be able to use your computer to see 360 degree images of popular recreation spots. The Trike is a suped-up three-wheel mountain bike that's part of Google's plan to enhance their StreetView mapping feature.
If you've used Google Maps, you've probably seen the StreetView, it shows you real photos along roadways that help you recognize landmarks, way points and addresses on your journey. It's very helpful for planning a car trip. So the idea now is to take the same technology off-road to help you plan for hikes, biking trips and picnics.
The Trike uses GPS and a slew of cameras to create a full-circle view that you can explore with you computer mouse. While the whole point of heading outdoors is to discover new things, it is nice to know if you can take a stroller on that hiking trail, if there are picnic tables, and where the closest bathrooms are.
Google has two locations that are live now: the bike path in Monterey, California and the Santa Monica Pier. They are adding LegoLand, California and about a dozen other locations in the U.S. this summer. They also have deals in the works with amusement parks in Europe and the U.S., and Google hopes to add national parks and popular trails soon.
But while the Google Trike lets you check out your destination before you get there, once you're on site, a few other gizmos can come in handy.
This Sanyo VPC-WH1 HD Waterproof Flash Memory Camcorder with 30x Optical Zoom can hang at the pool without getting trashed. It can also take videos underwater down to a depth of 3 meters, about ten feet.
The QuikPod mount allows you to take videos or photos of yourself. Screw your FlipCam video camera or digital camera to the mount, extend the telescopic arm and use the mirror on the mount to make sure you are in frame. You can be the photographer and still be in the shots.
The Flip Ultra HD records 2 hours of high definition video and costs about $200. For a budget option consider one of the older Flip cameras on Ebay- you can find a great camera for less than $50.