Modern technology a new travel companion

Imagine a holiday where you speak the language perfectly, never get lost, can calculate currency conversions without any mental arithmetic, and have a friendly guide murmuring fascinating historical trivia in your ear. A distant dream?

Not if technology has its way.

The tools are already partially in place: Sony’s PlayStation Portable offers a series of interactive city guides produced with Lonely Planet, as well as TalkMan, a program that uses “super-advanced, ultra-futuristic voice-recognition technology” to turn your muttered English into word-perfect German, Spanish or what have you.

Even those without a PSP can hop on the travel-tech bandwagon: a whole range of sites offer text or voice guides that can be downloaded to iPods and other MP3 players. But how much of a difference do they actually make to your holiday? Loaded up with a PSP, an iPod and a bevy of rechargers, I headed to Paris to find out.

The first thing to point out is that what’s on offer online for MP3 players varies widely. Wcities.com, for example, provides a free, iPod-only service that stores (as text) brief details about hotels, restaurants and attractions, along with their locations, prices and which credit/debit cards are accepted. There’s even a comprehensive list of films showing for the week you download the guide.

The iAudioGuide.com, also free in the sample version, offers three- to five-minute voice tracks describing various attractions, usable on any music player. While these were informative, they weren’t that engrossing, particularly since they were being read by someone who clearly had English as a second or third language.

Cited article:¬† The UK’s Telegraph

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