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Travel Insider readers have been introduced to an exciting array of new products during 2003.

Some have been great.  Some have been not so great.  Here now are the results of our 2003 Best Travel Technology Product Awards.

You can buy these products with confidence.

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2003 Best Travel Technology Product Awards

Results of Reader Voting

Travel Insider readers are savvy people.  They're better educated than average, and consider themselves technically proficient, early adopters of new technologies and gadget lovers.

Having the readers vote for a product is strong praise indeed for the winners of our 2003 awards.



Travel Insider readers tend to be early adopters of new products which make life on the road easier or more convenient, and just as quick to reject those which don't.

There were a lot of remarkably innovative products to consider over the past year, so their selections truly represent a sophisticated appreciation of value.

Reader Voting

Our favorite products from reviews during 2003 were presented to readers to vote on.  Readers could rate each of the offered products from 0 (meaning 'strongly dislike' to 4 (meaning 'strongly like') and could also indicate if it was a product they knew nothing about or had not opinion on.

Products were grouped in two major categories - those that were primarily technology driven, and everything else.

In each category readers could also submit a 'write in' recommendation, and then, after appraising all the individual nominees, were asked to choose an overall favorite.

Voting was held between 13 - 18 February.

Interpreting the Votes - Hanging Chads?

Over 2000 votes were cast.

Some anomalies were spotted in the results, however, which meant a simple automatic tabulation of answers was unlikely to be accurate.

In addition to a few instances of multiple voting, some votes were internally inconsistent.  For example, on occasion, readers would check the box that indicated they knew nothing about a product, but would also then give the product a rating on the 0-4 scale.  What was the true intention of such a vote?

Other people would give a very low rating (or none at all) to the product that they then voted for as best in its category.  This also clearly made no sense.

A simpler matter to resolve was the number of people that cast incomplete ballots.  This was only to be expected - few people would have personal experience of the entire range of product candidates.

Fortunately, our interpretive actions in such ambiguities did not result in any edge-of-your-seat very close decisions, and hopefully our decisions will not be reviewed by the US Supreme Court.  :)


The Results


Reader voting clearly established a winner for the two main categories.  We then allowed for some editorial input to decide which of the two category winners should be given the grand prize as 'Best of the Best'.

In addition, one other product put up a very strong showing, and so was awarded a special category prize.

Each award includes a link to the original review which also has information on how to buy the products.

And, lastly, some other interesting results from the voting are also noted.


Grand Prize - The Best of the Best
Best Technology Product

Plane Quiet Active Noise Cancelling Headphones

These headphones were rated best, both by reader voting and our editorial panel, outscoring the competing Bose Quiet Comfort headphones that are priced nearly four times higher.

Active noise cancelation is an amazing technology that massively improves the traveling and listening experience when in a noisy environment.

Great functionality, high quality, and unbeatable value all make this our ‘Best of the Best’ winner.


The Plane Quiet Active Noise Cancelling Headphones won the ‘Best of the Best’ Award.  The Plane Quiets also won the ‘Best Technology Product’ award.

Commenting on his product’s win, David Dillinger, Executive Vice President of Outside the Box, manufacturer of the Plane Quiet headphones, said, “It is great to know that product excellence still triumphs over marketing glitz. Our affordably priced active noise canceling headphones make air travel less stressful, and are excellent for use with the latest MP3 and DVD players.”

Outside the Box, founded by Dillinger, a professional pilot for a major airline, develops products to make travel more comfortable and convenient.

The Plane Quiet active noise canceling headphones use special circuitry to create ‘anti-noise’ that is mixed with the noise surrounding the user. The two signals cancel out, leaving the listener in an oasis of relaxing quiet, better able to enjoy listening to music, watching videos, or just relaxing in peace.


Best Travel Product

SearchAlert Luggage Lock

Many people need to secure their bags so they don’t burst open, or to reduce the danger of pilferage.

These new locks keep the bag secure while allowing the TSA to open them if necessary, and the special indicator on them shows the traveler if the lock has been opened by a TSA master key.

They are ingenious, inexpensive, and effective.


The ‘Best Travel Product’ award was won by the new SearchAlert luggage locks. These locks are approved by the TSA to be used by people checking their bags at airports, because the TSA have master keys to open the bags if needed.

Lyle Elliott, SearchAlert Product Manager for manufacturer CCL Security Products said, “Our unique and patented indicator tells people, immediately when they reclaim their luggage, if someone has opened their bag or not. They can check their bag while still at the airport, and, if something is missing – or something extra added – they can immediately resolve the problem.”

CCL Security Products manufactures a broad range of combination and keyed locks for all applications.

The new TSA approved SearchAlert lock has a unique patented indicator that immediately reveals if the lock has been opened by airport security, and is guaranteed by CCL so that if the TSA damage or destroy a lock, CCL will replace it, free of charge.


Best for International Travelers

Telestial International GSM Phone

This is an essential convenience for anyone traveling out of the US.

No matter where they are, a single phone number reaches the traveler, affordably and easily.

Of particular value is the massive cost savings which this product offers, compared to making international calls from pricey hotel room phones.


This Global Roaming product combines a multi-standard phone that works in 207 countries with an international phone number that works in 86 countries, including all of Europe and most other major countries.

Ken Grunski, President of Telestial, said, “Both business and leisure travelers increasingly feel the need to be conveniently accessible to friends, family, and colleagues, everywhere in the world. Normal US cell phones don’t work overseas. Our international phones save people money and hassle.”

Telestial Inc provides convenient, cost-effective telecommunications services to international travelers. Telestial provides cell phone products for use in over 170 countries around the world.

Telestial has partnered with phone services in more than 170 countries to provide Americans with the lowest calling rates available and, in many cases, highly economical international rates too. Telephone and pre-paid services from Telestial are compatible with GSM, the most widely implemented cell phone standard in the world.


The Strongest Love-Hate Dichotomy Award

Our own impressions of the Nokia 3650 cell phone have varied enormously between brilliantly positive to brain-numbingly negative.

It is fair to say that this phone - and others like it - promise more than they deliver.  Their capabilities are enormous, but the end-user interfaces are raw and unpolished.

Readers echoed these sentiments.  Almost one quarter of voters gave the Nokia 3650 the lowest score (0), while another quarter gave it the highest score (4).  Again, almost equal numbers gave it a 1 or a 3 score, making for an almost perfect balance between the 'loves' and the 'hates' with a strong showing in both of the extreme categories.  This is graphed on the analysis page.

We hope that 2004 and will not just the introduction of still more features to cell phones but also the enhancement of their user interfaces, making them easier to understand and use.

Write In Voting

Readers could also submit their suggestions for other notable products in 2003.

The most frequently mentioned product was the Palm/Handspring Treo 600 combination PDA and cell phone.  Also receiving multiple mentions were Apple's iPOD MP3 player and the Blackberry combination email/cell phone device.

One other product also mentioned was the Sports Express luggage shipping service.  This is a great service, and the only reason we didn't include it in our list of official candidates was because it is a service rather than a product.  Perhaps this was an artificial distinction, and on balance, it should probably have been offered as a formal candidate.

Lastly, thanks to the several people that suggested that we, ourselves, deserved a prize!

First Prize for Corporate Loyalty, but No Prize for Ethics

The Boeing Corp has been in the news lately due to gross lapses of corporate ethics, and two senior executives left the company in the wake of various scandals coming out into the open.

So perhaps it should not come as a surprise to note one overly eager Boeing employee, voting from a Boeing owned computer address on Saturday morning, who chose to submit multiple votes, one after the other, all for exactly the same thing - a write in vote for a Boeing product. 

More information and analysis of the results can be seen here.


Our 2003 Best Travel Technology Product Awards have been given to three outstanding products which offer significant improvements to all people's traveling experiences.

They all carry the recommendations and endorsement of both ourselves and our readers.

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Originally published 20 Feb 2004, last update 20 Jul 2020

You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.

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