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25 great gadgets for summer

The best cameras, satnavs, music players and e-readers

Only the most useful, hardest-working gadgets earn a place in PC Advisor's hand luggage. Here are our tips for how to pack light but still be fully kitted out for a summer trip

Best summer gadgets: Groovy tunes

If you want more than just a good book to keep you entertained on the beach this summer, an audio player is a great option that won't take up much room in your case.

Cowon X7

  • £229 inc VAT

If you crave an abundance of music, movies and books, the Cowon X7 fits the bill. It may look like an oversized touchscreen smartphone, but it's a 120GB portable media player with a 4.3in (480x272-pixel) widescreen display we found large enough to read books on. This fully featured device can play up to 10 hours of video or 103 hours of audio before needing a recharge. An FM radio, voice recorder, calculator, clock, document viewer and dictionary are other notable features. A voucher for Audible e-books and DRM-free music is included.

Apple iPod touch

  • £193 inc VAT

Many people will look to the latest version of the iPod touch to entertain them on their travels. This superlative media player comes in 8GB, 32GB and 64GB capacities, priced at £189, £254 and £336 respectively – that's enough storage for plenty of iTunes tracks and downloads from the App Store. Install Truphone or another VoIP app and you'll even be able to use the touch to make web-based phone calls and check in with the folks back home.

The touch has a front-facing camera for video chat, plus a 3Mp snapper on the rear. As with the iPhone, it runs iOS 4.1 and has a super-sharp ‘retina' display. The GameCenter and a three-axis gyroscope also feature.

Creative Zen Style M300

  • £39 inc VAT

Creative has expanded its Zen line-up to include the Style M300. Measuring just 55x44x12mm, with a 1.5in screen, this tiny music, TV and video player fits into the palm of your hand. It's available with 4GB, 8GB or 16GB of internal flash storage, and supports microSD cards up to 32GB.

Bluetooth lets you wirelessly connect a pair of headphones; a 3.5mm jack features if you'd rather use a standard headset. Touch-sensitive buttons are used to navigate the device and control playback.

The Creative also features an FM radio, built-in mic and clock, and is available in red, yellow, black or white. Prices start at £39 for the 4GB model, up to £79 for the 16GB Zen Style M300.

Sony Walkman Music Clip

  • £34 inc VAT

If you're a sporty type or would simply rather wear your MP3 player while you listen to it, the Sony Walkman Music Clip is ideal. It weighs just 28g and is less than 100mm long.

A detachable clip secures it to your clothing, bag or anything you like.

From a three-minute charge, Sony claims the Clip will provide 90 minutes of playback. A fully charged player will run for 18 hours. The Clip is available in 2GB and 4GB capacities, and a range of colours.

Radiopaq Duo

  • £19 inc VAT

If you've invested in a media player, you'll want a decent pair of headphones to go with it. We like the Radiopaq Duo headphones, which come in a range of five bright colours and feature a fold-flat design for easy transportation. An adjustable headband and 15mm deep-padded cushions aid comfort. According to Radiopaq, the Duo's 40mm drivers provide detailed mid-range with a balanced, rich bass sound.

Jaybird Sportsband 2

  • £99 inc VAT

If you've plans to exercise or simply can't stand to deal with tangled wires, Jaybird's Sportsband 2 Bluetooth headphones are what you need. The flexible headband is designed to ‘hug' the head, while a rubberised underband ensures it stays put. Moisture-proof controls are located on the earpad, letting you play or pause a track or even answer a call on your mobile phone.

Sennheiser HD238i

  • £79 inc VAT

If it's high-end headphones you're after, Sennheiser's HD238i are a great buy. These stylish cans feature foldable earpads and a sleek black metallic finish. A smart remote and mic lets Apple iPod users control audio tracks, while iPhone users can also accept incoming phone calls.

Best Summer Gadgets: cameras

A camera is a must-have travel companion for your summer holiday, if you're heading to a faraway beach or staying somewhere closer to home. Whether you want a waterproof model to document your snorkelling adventures or a point-and-shoot that can record HD video and capture stills simultaneously, great cameras to suit all budgets are available.

Kodak EasyShare Sport

  • £59 inc VAT

Kodak's EasyShare Sport is waterproof up to 3m and a great buy for taking to the beach at £59. An Underwater Picture mode selects the best focus and white-balance settings to give true-to-life colours when capturing shots in the pool or under the waves.

This 12Mp camera is also dustproof, has a 2.4in colour LCD screen and can record VGA-quality video with audio, even underwater. In-camera controls let you edit footage, then share it directly with friends and family via Facebook, Kodak Gallery or YouTube upon connection to a PC.

Fujifilm FinePix Z900EXR

  • £219 inc VAT

Fujifilm's FinePix Z900EXR will turn heads this summer. This 16Mp camera is available in four colours, including eye-catching pink and blue, and has a high-gloss finish. Despite housing a generous 3.5in touchscreen and a 5x wide-angle lens, the Fujifilm is just 18.2mm thick and can be easily slipped into a pocket.

You can elect to let the camera select the most suitable settings based on the surroundings, or choose between three shooting modes: high-resolution; signal-to-noise for low-light conditions; and dynamic range, which takes two pictures and combines them to create a superior image (see How to create dramatic photos with high dynamic range.)

The FinePix can record 1080p video at up to 320fps. The resulting footage can then be admired on the big screen via the camera's mini-HDMI connection. The Z900EXR has 63MB of internal flash memory, but also supports memory cards up to 32GB in capacity.

Olympus SZ-30MR

  • £299 inc VAT

If it's a super-impressive zoom you're after, then the Olympus SZ-30MR is the perfect camera for your trip. This 16Mp compact's 24x zoom allows shots to be captured anywhere from 25mm to 600mm distant.

Another feature worthy of note is Multi Recording, which lets you simultaneously capture full-HD (1920x1080-pixel) video and still images. Olympus suggests that
this option could be useful if you want to capture the full scope of a scene but also have a high-resolution close-up photograph of someone in the same shot. It can also be used to capture the same shot or scene at more than one resolution setting, making it suitable for output to the web or to an HDTV without prior scaling.

The Olympus has a number of preset scene modes and a range of ‘Magic Filters', including two new ones – Watercolour and Sparkle – that can be overlaid on to a shot or video as it's captured.

Pentax Optio RS1500

  • £89 inc VAT

The Pentax Optio RS1500 is a 14Mp compact camera with a difference. By placing one of 10 ready-made ‘skins' over the device and clipping on its protective layer, you can customise this compact's look. If none exactly matches your mood or location, five blank skins are provided for you to create your own designs. The Pentax's black lens ring can also be swapped for an orange version.

Despite this somewhat gimmicky feature, the Optio RS1500 has some useful skills in the way of photography. It features a 4x zoom lens and a 3in LCD screen, and is also capable of capturing HD video at 30fps. Movie Shake Reduction and Digital Blur Removal help to combat blur caused by accidental movement during composition of movies and still images respectively.

The Pentax also features Smile Detection and Natural Skin modes.  A ‘DC Superheroes'-inspired special edition Optio RS1500, which comes with skins depicting characters from the comics, is also available.

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