Page Turners and 20 New Travel Apps


Page Turners

These days, a good e-reader should be in everyone’s suitcase, and if you don’t mind dispensing with books on your business travels, the latest reading technology should be for you. Steve Dinneen casts an expert eye over six new options.

Amazon Kindle Touch


The Kindle is to e-readers what the iPad is to tablets. Amazon is the clear market leader in e-ink (technology whereby liquid ink responds to electric impulses, enabling it to form text and images) and its Kindle Touch is the one to beat. It is light, fast, responsive and now comes with an intuitive six-inch touchscreen. It also has the advantage of being hooked up to Amazon’s online bookstore. The physical keyboard of previous generations has been replaced by a virtual one, which makes the unit more compact. Typing takes a bit longer, but you probably aren’t going to be writing any essays on it. Books are downloaded over Wi-Fi and there is space for about 3,000 on the internal hard drive – you’d have to be on a pretty long holiday to get through them all. Even better, your purchases are automatically stored on Amazon’s cloud, meaning you won’t lose your books, even if your e-reader falls into the sea. The Kindle Fire ($199, currently available in the US only) is billed as Amazon’s colour e-reader, but it’s really a multimedia device, more akin to the iPad. If you want video and apps as well as books, it’s a solid, budget option. But if you’re looking for a reading device, the Kindle Touch’s e-ink is the way to go.

Kobo Touch Edition


This is probably the closest rival to the Kindle Touch. They are pretty evenly matched in terms of size and weight, but the Kobo has the edge in terms of its impressive e-ink screen, which renders quickly and is easy to navigate. It falls down on its e-book store (accessed via Wi-Fi), linked to WH Smith, as it can be difficult to find your way around and is generally more expensive than Amazon’s. The Kobo’s most distinctive feature is its quilted rubber back, which, in black at least, is not as bad as it sounds, sitting comfortably in your hand. Be warned – the silver edition looks a bit like a padded cell from a 1970s sci-fi movie. The battery will last around a month. Overall, the Touch Edition is one of the best e-readers on the market.

Trekstor Pyrus


The Pyrus falls well and truly into the “budget” category. It’s one of the cheapest e-ink products on the market, but is also one of the least pleasant to use. The screen is pixelated and rendering new pages is painfully slow. One advantage is its open platform, which allows you to read almost any e-book or document. If you’re taking it abroad, stock up on books before you go – it does not come with Wi-Fi, so you’ll have to manually drag and drop files when it’s plugged into your PC. The rubbery back is comfortable, but the build quality is dubious and feels rather flimsy. It also suffers from a faint “shadow image” of the previously viewed page, almost like you’re reading a book printed on very thin paper. If you need an e-reader for a couple of weeks on the beach then the Pyrus will probably suffice, but if you plan on using it regularly, you’d be better off investing a few more dollars in something else.

NOOK Simple Touch with Glowlight


In a crowded market, it can be difficult to stand out. The Nook Simple Touch has an ingenious solution in its Glowlight. Billed as the ideal bedtime e-reader, the unit emits a soft glow that enables you to carry on reading with the lights off, while retaining the all-important e-ink display. The Nook is also a solidly built reader that stands shoulder-to-shoulder with its rivals in terms of hardware. Built-in Wi-Fi gives you direct access to the Barnes and Noble online store, which has a great, if slightly pricey, selection. The touchscreen is responsive and page rendering smooth. The downside is that it’s currently only available in the US. If you’re a night-time reader, it could be worth the extra effort.

View Quest BookBox


The Bookbox is an interesting proposition – it claims to be all things to all men and yet it is one of the cheapest e-readers on the market. It has a colour screen, supports video and will play your MP3 collection. All of this is squeezed into a five-inch display – and you’ll get change from $80. It sounds too good to be true – and, in some respects, it is. The colour display means no e-ink, so it’s not ideal for reading on for too long. The build quality isn’t great and there is no Wi-Fi. It may look like an overgrown smartphone from the front but, at 16mm thick, it’s actually pretty hefty. You will also have to resist the urge to swipe at the display, as there is no touchscreen. If you need a portable video player, the View Quest Bookbox is a viable option, but if you want to do some serious reading, there are better options out there.

 Nintendo Wii U

Price TBA

A games console is hardly the first place you’d expect to go to read a book – but then Nintendo’s latest offering is hardly your average machine. The ingenious console, due out in time for Christmas, comes with a wireless controller that looks a bit like a tablet, complete with a 6.2-inch screen. While the Japanese manufacturer is playing its cards close to its chest, a series of leaks has revealed this tablet/control-pad hybrid will double up as an e-reader. You might not want to use it in a meeting, but it is an interesting alternative to a stand-alone device. Plus, if you get bored reading War and Peace, you can switch to the games you have stored on it instead. You can’t do that on a Kindle.

20 New Travel Apps

They are all the rage, whatever the industry you operate in. So, Jenny Southan did her research and came back with a list of a fresh crop of mobile applications designed to improve your life on the road.

1. Hyatt Hotels

Features of Hyatt’s app include the option to connect to its Twitter-based Concierge service 24/7 and check in before arrival. You can also monitor the weather and access your Hyatt Gold Passport account.

Free; iPhone, iPad, Android

2. Club Carlson

Members of the hotel loyalty scheme can redeem points for stays at Radisson, Country Inn and Suites, Park Inn and Park Plaza properties, as well as explore their local area with interactive maps and sign up for express booking.

Free; iPhone, iPad, Android

3. W Hotels

This trendy app from the Starwood brand allows you to stream mixes by W’s global music director (and purchase from iTunes), order room service, request towels, bedding and amenities, place requests, view offers and post comments or photos on social networking sites.

Free; iPhone, iPad

4. Marriott Mobile

Use this app to reserve rooms at more than 3,600 hotels in 70 countries, as well as find nearby properties using GPS, browse city guides and images of the properties, manage bookings and access your Marriott Rewards account.

Free; iPhone, BlackBerry, Android

5. Airbnb

Fed up with predictable chain hotels? Search and book unique accommodation, from private apartments in more than 26,000 cities, to private islands. You can also list a property yourself or find last minute options.

Free; iPhone, iPad, Android

6. myDXB

The Dubai Airport app helps travellers to navigate its three terminals by providing an offline directory of services and facilities, a 3G/Wi-Fi-enabled “smart map” to locate them, and live flight listings and gate numbers.

Free; iPhone, iPad, Android

7. The Future by Airbus

Discover the in-flight experience of 2050 with this slick “fly-through” app from the aircraft manufacturer. Users can tap on widgets and press on thumbprints to learn more about futuristic innovations and view images and video.

Free; iPhone, iPad

8. Your Passenger Rights

The European Commission launched this app to help travellers check their air and rail rights when their service is delayed or cancelled, or if their baggage is lost or damaged. It lists contacts to lodge complaints and displays travel information during crises.

Free; Apple, BlackBerry, Android, Windows Phone 7

9. easyJet Mobile

The budget carrier allows travellers to search and book flights, save personal details for future reservations, set reminders, and share trip information via text, email or social networks.

Free; iPhone, iPad, Android

10. CityJet

View flight schedules for the carrier’s 18 European destinations, make bookings, manage reservations, check in and receive an electronic boarding pass, store your Flying Blue credentials, and get access to online promotions.

Free; iPhone, Android

11. Jet Blue

In addition to offering the ability to book and manage flights, the US airline’s app enables you to check in, receive real-time flight updates, view movie trailers, share your travel plans and use the “Pick me up” feature to help co-ordinate rendezvous at the airport.

Free; iPhone, iPad

12. Eurostar Trains

Search and book Eurostar travel between London, Paris and Brussels with this app, which also generates an offline-accessible mobile ticket and allows you to check in. It will store your personal and loyalty scheme profile too.

Free; iPhone, iPad, Android

13. Click a Taxi

Available for use in seven countries (including the UK and Ireland, with many more to be added over the next year) and partnered with more than 1,000 taxi firms, this app allows you to make automated bookings using GPS. Pay with cash at the end of your journey.

Free; iPhone, iPad, Android

14. Maps+

Use this to browse Google Maps, set location-based alarms for when you arrive in specific places, record and edit GPS routes, add bookmark pins, and show tweets from anyone who has geo-location tagging turned on.

Free; iPhone, iPad

15. Mynet Travel

A personal guide to cancellations, disruption and delays on UK trains, it enables you to create your own “departure board” for regular journeys and view live updates from people who share your routes.

Free; iPhone, iPad, Android

16. VykeMobile

This VoIP app lets people connect over Wi-Fi or 3G to landlines and mobiles. It is free between Vyke users and allows you to top up credit as you go. Calls to Vyke Zone countries including the US and Australia cost 15p per hour; otherwise it is from 1p per minute.

Free; iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry, Nokia

17. Gogobot

Linked to your Facebook account, this app helps you to plan trips and get recommendations from friends. You can plan and map your itinerary, create postcards, submit reviews and find out useful information such as addresses and opening times.

Free; iPhone, iPad

18. Postagram Post Cards

Finding a postcard, stamps and a post office is near impossible for time-pressed travellers, but this app offers a solution. Take a photo and you can turn it into a printed postcard with a bespoke message that can instantly be mailed anywhere in the world for $0.99-$1.99.

Free; iPhone, iPad, Android

19. Clibe

A “social journaling app” for the iPad, Clibe combines writing, sketching and photography to create books and travel diaries. Stored virtually as part of a cloud library, you can choose to make them public or private. 

$5; iPad

20. Jet Lag Genie

Create a customised plan to manage your jetlag – log your flight time and your usual wake-up and bed times, and it will tell you when to get sunshine or darkness, and when to take melatonin or nap.

$3; iPhone, iPad