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Get the Show on the Road

With powerful portables you can pack your fun to go and take your audio or videoentertainment along
Steve Morgenstern
From the Print Edition:
Cuban Models, May/June 03

Catching the miles tick away as you cruise the highways and byways in your luxury automobileÖpeering at the towns and villages huddled beside the train tracks as the great iron wheels click and clack toward your destinationÖ gazing down as your plane soars majestically above the great checkerboard of America's heartland…boring!

Sure, scenery's fine, but I want my digital diversions during those never-ending hours spent traveling from here to there and back again. Happily, as more and more forms of entertainment are delivered in compact digital bundles and significant improvements are made in battery and video technology, taking your electronic fun on the road is easier than ever. Here are a dozen portable ways to amuse yourself and/or keep the kids occupied, whether you're hitting the road or just roaming around your home.

TravelSound MP3 Titanium

The TravelSound is an intriguing, multipurpose, palm-sized audio device, a combination MP3 player/powered stereo speakers/voice recorder. While the built-in 32-megabyte memory stores only about half an hour of music, it's easily expanded with inexpensive SmartMedia cards to hold up to two and a half hours of CD-quality music. I've found the TravelSound especially useful for headphone-free listening to my other portable audio devices -- CD player, MP3 jukebox, portable tape recorder. The stereo speakers are small, but with their titanium drivers, they pump out plenty of volume for personal listening, with minimal distortion. Given the low to middling quality of most built-in portable computer speakers, I'll often connect the TravelSound to my notebook computer when playing games or listening to digital audio off the hard drive. And if I were the type who makes PowerPoint presentations on the road with a laptop, I'd definitely toss a TravelSound in my bag (it weighs just over 11 ounces with batteries) and write it off as a business expense.

Creative, 800-998-1000,, $129


Portable Audio Laboratory radio

This unique carry-along AM/FM radio packs a lot of audio punch into a compact musical brick (roughly 6 x 3.7 x 3.9 inches and weighing in at 2 pounds). Designed by revered audio engineer Henry Kloss, the Portable Audio Laboratory (PAL) delivers surprisingly rich sound from its 2.5-inch speaker. Also striking is the pinpoint-precise manual tuner -- the PAL brings in distant stations better than any other portable on the market, effectively fending off noise and interference across the AM and FM bands. Above and beyond its audio attributes, the PAL boasts a host of convenience features that make it near indispensable in my household. With its weather-resistant rubberized case and built-in rechargeable battery (more than 10 hours of play time from a three-hour charge), the PAL travels easily from office to backyard to porch to poolside. There's an auxiliary input jack for connecting a portable CD or MP3 player, and a headphone jack for private listening. What's more, you can pick a color to suit your personality, from rich red and neon yellow to subdued gray or black.

Tivoli Audio, 877-297-9479,, $130


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