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 these well
informed readers vote for a product is strong praise
indeed for the winners of our 2004 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
There were a lot of remarkably
innovative products to consider over the past year, so their
selections truly represent a sophisticated appreciation of
Our favorite products from
reviews during 2004 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
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
Voting was held between 21
January and 3 February 2005.
Interpreting the Votes
Almost 2000 votes were cast
(surprisingly, a few less than last year).
Some anomalies were spotted
in the results, however, which meant a simple automatic
tabulation of answers was unlikely to be accurate.
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.
You can't proceed to rate a product if you know nothing about
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
A few people would rate very
many products as 0. It strained credibility to believe
that these people had personal experience with all the different
products and hated them all, and we ended up deciding that these
people were giving a 0 rating instead of indicating they had no
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.
Overly enthusiastic voters?
Last year we detected one
clear case of a person casting three votes for his own company's
product, and several other cases of multiple voting.
This year, the multiple
voting was way up on last year, with almost one third of all
entries being deemed to be from people intent on cheating the
system. This was particularly true in the luggage area,
where a small cabal of voters attempted to skew the results
against the excellent Briggs & Riley product, favoring instead
write-in votes for a different brand of luggage.
It is encouraging that some
people value these awards so very highly. But these, ahem,
'inconsistencies' have not been included in the final vote
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
Each award includes a link
to the original review which also has information on how to buy
And, lastly, some other
interesting results from the voting are also noted.
Grand Prize -
The Best of the Best
Best Technology Product
Plane Quiet NC-6 Active Noise Cancelling
These headphones were
rated best, both by reader voting and our editorial panel,
convincingly outscoring the competing Noisebuster NBFX
An earlier version of
Plane Quiet's headphones won last year's awards.
This new model is even
better than last year's model, and costs less. A well
NC-6 Active Noise Cancelling Headphones won the ‘Best of the Best’ Award.
The Plane Quiet NC-6 also won the ‘Best Technology Product’
award, with an average reader rating of 3.21 (out of a maximum
possible of 4) and being named as 'best product' by 35% of
David Dillinger, Executive Vice President of Outside the
Box (the company that designed and distributes the Plane Quiet headphones) said, “Our
second win is a much appreciated affirmation that there's still
a place for American design excellence. Our customers have
shown to us, and your readers have shown to you, that high value
high quality products will always win out."
There is an interesting
juxtaposition of events. On the same day we are announcing
the NC-6's win for 2004, we are also announcing the release of a
new Plane Quiet product, their top of the line
noise cancelling headphones. Might Plane Quiet win the
2005 awards as well?
Runner Up (for Best Technology
emergency battery charger narrowly pulled ahead of the
Clipper Gear SIM Saver to
win second place. Cellboost scored an average rating of
3.16 and was rated as best product by 9% of voters.
Best Travel Product
MyTag Personalized Bag Tags
So many bags are almost
identical to each other, and as they appear on the luggage
carousel, it is easy to take the wrong bag by mistake.
These bold luggage tags
make it easy for you to find your bag, and make it difficult
for other people to take your bag by mistake.
The ‘Best Travel Product’
award was won by the simple but very effective
MyTag personalized bag tags. It earned an average
reader rating of 2.90 and was named as 'best product' by 46% of
I called to congratulate
Chuck Weisbart, the inventor of these lovely devices, and was
very touched by his response.
He said 'This award does my
heart good, because all our bag tags are made by people at the
local Foundation for the Retarded of the Desert. They've
become like a second family to us here, and I'd like to thank
your readers and our customers for helping these special people
MyTags are fine products,
made by, and sold by, fine people.
Amusingly, he told me of an
enhancement to the tags. Formerly they were tied to bag
handles by plastic loops. However, their range of 'Tude
Tags (tags with silly sayings on them instead of owners' names)
were suffering from being too popular - they would go missing
off people's bags between checking them at the counter and
receiving them at the other end. So all MyTags now come
with split steel rings (like oversized keyrings) which are much
harder to take off.
Theft rates have now
Runner Up (for Best Travel
Magellan's range of
Free Travel Clothing came second, with an average rating of
2.87 and being rated as best product by 25% of readers.
Being regular users of such wondrous things ourselves, we agree
with our readers.
The Strongest Love-Hate
Last year we gave an award
cell phone due to the curious contradiction in its scoring,
with almost equal numbers of readers scoring it a 0, 1, 3 and 4.
Some people loved this phone, others hated it.
No product had such a range
of strongly held opinions this year (and this year's phone - the
Motorola V600 - was predominantly liked, not disliked), but one
product which scored very highly in the most positive (4) score
also scored significantly in the most negative (0) score;
Overall its score was a
credible 2.62 average (on a 0 - 4 scale) and our interpretation
of this result is simply to observe that while the First Class
Sleeper can indeed make a big difference to one's sleeping
comfort on a flight, it still doesn't make things as comfortable
as one's own bed.
We also know from
correspondence with some readers, discussion with the Sleeper's
inventor, and our own experience, it is very important to get
exactly the right amount of air in the sleeper for maximum
comfort. There is a tendency to over-inflate it, but the
sleeper works best when under-inflated to the point where you're
almost 'bottoming out' in it.
Write In Voting
Readers could also submit
their own suggestions for other notable products in 2004.
The most frequently
mentioned product was the Palm/Handspring Treo 650
combination PDA and cell phone (interestingly, last year the
most frequently mentioned product was its predecessor, the Treo
600). Also receiving a large number of
mentions were the Bose noise cancelling headphones (not a new
product in 2004) .
Our 2004 Best Travel
Technology Product Awards have been given to two outstanding
products which offer significant improvements to all people's
They all carry the
recommendations and endorsement of both ourselves and our
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11 Feb 2005, 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.