What's New, What's Hot: December 2013

By Joe Rosen
What's New, What's Hot is Travel Weekly's look at useful and fun travel gadgets, edited by Joe Rosen. Click on the image to open a slideshow of all of the featured products for December.

PowerPot V: An ingenious product that converts heat into electricity, the PowerPot V is a portable generator that enables backpackers and other outdoorsy types to power up cell phones, cameras and GPS units while cooking over a campfire or propane stove. Simply boil up water and this thermoelectric wonder does the rest, providing enough juice to drive any USB hand-held device. Designed to work with a wide variety of stoves and fuel sources, the PowerPot V comes with a standard USB port, a three-foot flame-resistant cable and a bowl/lid that doubles as a cooking platform. Traveling light? The generator weighs only 12 ounces. $149; www.thepowerpot.com.  

ZipSakZipSak 31-inch MicroFold Upright: This lightweight luggage from Biaggi -- it folds into a travel bag for easy storage -- will make a small hotel room seem big, tight quarters on a cruise ship spacious. Although it is no shrinking violet when it comes to size (it checks in at a capacious 31 by 18 by 14 inches), the ZipSak, once unpacked, collapses on itself in a "Z" fold for stowing under a bed, on a shelf, even in a drawer. Like all the bags in the ZipSak line (also available as a 22-inch carry-on and a 27-inch upright), the 31-inch version features four spinner wheels for easy mobility and a high-density nylon exterior. $99.99; www.biaggi.com.  

SwannEye HD Pan & Tilt: This "plug and play" home-monitoring system is easily installed and easy to use. The Pan & Tilt utilizes a dedicated app that provides the tools to allow smart phone and tablet users to monitor their home (or office) by streaming live video or viewing recorded videos and photos via any iOS, PC or Android device. The camera, which features 350-degree horizontal and 100-degree vertical motion, is controlled through the app and saves 720p HD video and 1280 by 720 HD pictures on an SD card or directly to a smart phone or tablet. In addition, the system, which includes a built-in microphone and speaker so you can tell intruders they are on candid camera, comes with mounting hardware, theft-deterrent stickers, a power adapter and network cable. $179.99; www.swann.com.  

Ultimate Adventure Towel Bag: At once a colorful beach towel that can be folded into a beach bag, the Towel Bag also serves as a secure and inconspicuous repository for your valuables while you are off splashing in the waves or touring an island village. This product, made of high-quality, 500 grams-per-square-meter cotton velour, has two 10 by 16-inch hidden pockets for water bottles, sun screen and the like as well as a super-secret 7 by 7-inch pocket for your watch, keys and cell phone. Constructed to be wind resistant, the towel includes bungee cords that can be attached to the posts of a beach chair or connected to sand pegs (included) for sand or grass. Iron-on decorative patches are available for those who want to personalize their Towel Bag. $99.95; www.alphasunandsport.com.  

ShaveTech Electric Razor: Made for the man-on-the-go, this slick-looking grooming aid can be charged by using any standard USB port, whether the shaver is attached to a laptop or a stand-alone charger. As a result, it makes for a handy global accessory in that it does not require an adapter or wall outlet for power. About the same size as a cell phone, the ShaveTech is a perfect fit for a carry-on, pocket or backpack and will provide a half-hour of shaving on a full charge. The unit features a removable outer foil hood for easy cleaning. $39.99; www.shavetech.com.  

VivitarVivitar DVR 787 HD Action Camera: Capture a first-person, point-of-view HD record while skydiving, ballooning, surfing or the like on your next action adventure with this versatile and easy-to-use camcorder. Featuring a remote control that enables you to shoot footage and stills at the touch of a button, the Vivitar 787 has a waterproof casing that protects it against splashes and submersion down to 30 feet, a 2.4-inch touch-screen display, an HDMI output for easy display and a micro SD slot for expandable memory options. The DVR 787 comes with a bicycle mount, helmet mount, HDMI cable and AC charger. $59; www.vivitar.com.  

SnapBox: Take what you consider a museum-quality photo on your last vacation and yearn to see it as a work of art hanging on the wall of your living room if not prominently displayed at a chic gallery? Now, with the services of SnapBox, a Web-based outfit, you can transform your favorite digital images into indelible memories on canvas, framed with kiln-dried wood and suitable on a wall or desk (or in a museum alcove). The whole process, starting with an email attachment from you, only takes a few days, so you still have time to turn vacation, birthday or other special-event photos into one-of-a-kind holiday gifts. Prices range from $13.29 for a 5-by-5-inch image to $36.99 for a 10-by-13; www.snapboxez.com.  

RYU Medium Ballistic Duffel: From four wheels to no wheels, there is nothing fancy or cutting-edge about this duffel, which is a real carry-on in that it is meant to be literally carried on and not rolled. Made of 100% polyester, the RYU (Respect Your Universe) duffel measures 22 by 11 by 11 inches and can easily double as a gym or overnight bag. It offers an adjustable and removable shoulder strap, a separate wet pocket, an interior organizer/security pocket and a zippered closure. This minimalist travel accessory is sporty and practical, just the thing if you want to travel fast and light. $64.80; www.ryu.com.  

Transcend International Carry-On Wide-Body Spinner: One notable attribute of this bag is that its four-wheel configuration enables you to slide it easily through narrow airplane aisles simply by turning it sideways. In addition to easily fitting feet first in an overhead compartment, this Briggs & Riley carry-on weighs only 8.8 pounds, is unusually capacious for a bag of its size (the case measures 8 by 15.5 by 19.5 inches) and features a large U-shaped opening for quick access to its contents. Also worth noting are external pockets for quick storage of "alarming" items at security checkpoints and wet/dry storage. $369; www.briggs-riley.com.  

Wallport R2200 Rapid Charger: This device from Ventev, a company that focuses on engineering and developing premium wireless products, is designed to power two tablets simultaneously (or a tablet and a smartphone, as in recent extended use during a three-week trip to Turkey) and does so at the fastest possible rate. Ventev says the Wallport R2200, which can be folded for travel, is the smallest wall charger in the market and can be used anywhere in the world. Its charging outlets are rated at 2.1 amps each. $29.99; www.ventev.com.  

Got something for What's New, What's Hot? Email Joe Rosen at jrosen@travelweekly.com. 
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