Years ago summer was lo-fi -- a season more about escape than entertainment. Going on a vacation was easy, requiring little more than packing some clothes, grabbing the family and driving off to wherever the spirit moved you. There were no screens built into headrests or automated voices directing the way.
Travelers were almost completely unplugged.
That was another time, well before we lost our innocence to MP3 players and GPS systems, iPads and Kindles. Now, gadgets have become as much a part of our lives as our families (with the added benefit of volume control). So when it comes time to travel this summer, arm yourself with the right types of gadgetry -- whether you're headed to your backyard in the Hamptons or to a more far-flung destination.
Some of this season's best new items are simple improvements on older ones, like the HTC One cellphone from AT&T. It does everything a smartphone should, yet comes with a camera that's anything but an afterthought, capable of taking up to four shots per second. Then there are the more innovative options like the GoPro Hero02, a wearable HD camcorder that captures video from your perspective--no matter what adventure you've stumbled upon.
Some want a gadget that brings the vacation to them. Epson's new Home Cinema 5010e projector creates a drive-in backyard theater with a crisp 1080p high-definition picture instead of a washed-out image (it's like the difference between a perfect summer cocktail and a flat soda--no contest). Or, if vacationing means eating well, the high-tech, LED-loaded grill from Lynx will transform any barbecue into an advanced gourmet experience--though the cooking is still up to you.
Here's a closer look at our favorite summer gadgets that are fitting for whatever types of travel plans take shape this season.