Steve Dinneen presents hardcore gadgets that will survive the most challenging of business trips.
JCB Toughphone Pro-Smart TP909
If you’re looking for a phone that is virtually indestructible, why not go for one made by a company that’s famous for producing dumper trucks? The JCB Touchphone Pro- Smart comes with a reinforced, dust-proof casing that can withstand some spectacular falls. Even better, it is waterproof up to one metre for 30 minutes. The Android handset is rather basic, lacking the latest software or a fancy quad-core processor, and its colour scheme means you wouldn’t want to get it out at a business meeting. But this is missing the point – it is a second phone for people who plan on doing some serious travelling and don’t want to risk dropping their iPhone in a river (or the toilet).
Olympus Tough TG-820
The rugged credentials of Olympus’s toughest camera are mightily impressive – take it for a swim up to 10 metres deep, expose it to conditions of up to minus 10?C, drop it from two metres or even crush it with up to 100kg. The compact camera is coated in a polycarbonate shell that feels like it could take some serious damage, and even the LCD screen on the back is scratchproof. The camera itself is decent, with 12 megapixels, a five-times optical zoom and a folded lens design, meaning there are no protrusions to break off. If you plan on getting into some scrapes while you’re away, take one of these with you.
Otterbox Defender Series iPad Case
If your iPad is your pride and joy, it would be wise to invest in a seriously tough case. Enter the Otterbox Defender Series, which offers three layers of protection, including a screen cover and an outer layer that doubles up as a stand for watching movies. The newest version will comfortably house either second or third-generation iPads (not first) and it even works with Apple’s smart-cover technology, switching the screen off when the case is closed. The downsides are that it isn’t the most attractive accessory for your nice shiny iPad, and won’t protect it if you drop it in water.
Lacie Rugged Thunderbolt Hard Drive
This 1TB hard drive (measuring 8.9cm x 14cm x 2.5cm) has a shock-proof casing that will keep your information safe from harm. It comes with both Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 connectivity, so transferring large files is quick and painless. The speeds are so fast, in fact, that unlike many other devices in the category, it can be used as a production drive, running and editing large files without having to first transfer them to your laptop or desktop. There is enough storage space for dozens of movies, as well as those spreadsheets on your to-do-list.
BlueAnt T1 Rugged Bluetooth headset
This Bluetooth headset is designed to work in extreme conditions. It is resistant to damp, dust, knocks and bumps, meaning you can keep your phone safely in your pocket and let the headset combat the elements. The T1 also comes with noise-cancellation software that can deliver clear audio in wind speeds of up to 35km/ph, which the firm says is the best on the market. The silicon covers that protect the unit are replaceable, so even if it takes a real battering, you may be able to salvage it. Features include verbal caller ID, meaning the headset can announce who is calling.
Kodak PlaySport (ZX5) HD Waterproof Pocket Video Camera
This smartphone-sized video camera is one tough device. Its rubberised plastic coating is dust-proof, can survive a drop from 1.5 metres and take a dip in up to three metres of water. It is able to shoot in 1080p full HD video, captured at 30 frames a second. With an SD card to top up the storage space, it can hold 10 hours of video in 1080p. It has a fairly basic feature set, which includes image stabilisation and an underwater correction filter, so don’t expect to shoot professional-grade videos. But if you want a waterproof camcorder that you can throw in your luggage, this is a good option.
Beachbuoy Waterproof Case
You don’t need to spend the earth to make your gadgets travel-proof. The Beachbuoy acts like a wetsuit for your mobile, tablet or e-reader, allowing you to read in the pool or bath without having to worry about dropping it. It is simple to use – slide the device in, roll the top down and seal it with velcro – and most touchscreen devices will work through the clear plastic cover. It is good for taking on the beach, as enough air is trapped in the pocket that your phone should float, making it easier to retrieve during an accident. It is waterproof up to about five metres – enough for anything but scuba diving.
Sony Xperia Z
Price dependent on contract
Sony hopes its latest range of smartphones can finally help it to break into a market dominated by Apple and Samsung. It has built the Xperia Z to be water-proof, making it unique in the high-end mobile phone market. It can survive being submerged to one metre for half an hour, remaining fully functional throughout. The handset also has a 13-megapixel camera, an NFC chip for mobile payments and a stunning five-inch screen with a higher resolution than both the iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy S III.
Mezzi Caliber Series Aluminum Laptop Case
Taking your laptop abroad can be stressful, with the cost of replacing it secondary to the lost documents stored on it. You will be able to travel a little more comfortably, though, if you know your laptop is safely stored in this near-indestructible aluminium case. Mezzi’s stylish product is big enough to fit your charger and other extras in, but light enough to carry around without sending your arm to sleep. It also has a padded interior to cushion your precious cargo against all but the most severe of falls. And if you needed another reason to buy one, it is so cool, it even featured in the video to Jay-Z’s Show Me What You Got.
Panasonic Android Toughpad FZ-A1
If you need a tablet that will last, the Panasonic Android Toughpad is for you. The 10.1-inch tablet is designed to withstand being dropped from almost 1.5 metres, and is resistant to dust and water. It also has advanced hardware encryption, in case you are worried about it falling into the wrong hands – Panasonic says the Toughpad is designed to appeal to “mission critical government personnel and highly mobile field forces”. It also comes with a micro SD card slot, micro USB and micro HDMI ports, GPS, the option of 4G, and Android version 4.0.
Smartphone Emergency Kit
If your phone takes an unexpected turn for the wetter while you are away, the Dry All Wet Smartphone Emergency Kit promises to dry it in no time, using what the company claims is “the most effective and aggressive dehumidifier for electronics available anywhere in the world”. Just slip your soaked phone into the case and, six hours later, with any luck, it won’t have any lasting damage. A version is also available for tablets and e-readers, costing $40. There are no guarantees, but it could prove to be a lifesaver.
5.11 Tactical HRT Sniper Watch
Make sure your timepiece is tough enough by investing in the 5.11 Tactical HRT Watch. The name 5.11 comes from the Yosemite Decimal rating scale for rock climbing – an indication of the punishment it can withstand. The titanium casing is waterproof to 100 metres and the hands glow in the dark. It is also built to keep perfect time at altitude and in periods of humidity. Shooting fans can input ballistic information (including temperature and wind velocity) into an in-built computer.