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Travel tech: the best gadgets to pack on your holiday this summer | Gadgets

Summer is finally here, and after two years of disruption, many people will be getting on a plane, long-distance train or ferry for the first time in a long while.

A lot of us will inevitably be chucking a few gadgets and gizmos into our suitcases and hand luggage – from essentials such as travel adaptors to the items that can make a journey more pleasant, such as headphones and portable handheld fans.

Here’s our guide to the best gadgets to pack on your holiday this summer.

Noise-cancelling headphones


Bose QuietComfort 45

The Bose QuietComfort 45 folded in a case.
The Bose QuietComfort 45 offer long-term comfort and fold up neatly for travel. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

RRP: £319.95 – deals from £289, refurbished from £160.

Take some of the stress out of travelling by cancelling out the drone of engines or fellow passengers with a good set of headphones. The Bose QuietComfort 45 are the sequel to some of the best noise-cancelling headphones ever made, now with updated technology, including better battery life and sound, to give you a bit of peace and quiet.

Anker Soundcore Life Q30

The Soundcore Life Q30 headphones on a table.
The Soundcore Life Q30 offer long battery life and noise-cancelling on a budget. Photograph: Anker

RRP: £80 – refurbished from £66.

For those looking for something cheaper, Anker’s Soundcore Life Q30 offer Bluetooth 5, good noise reduction, reasonable sound quality and a 40-hour battery life that takes some beating, and cost as little as £66 refurbished. An updated model with higher-resolution Bluetooth support, the Life Q35, is also available with an official price of £130, although this week you could find them on Amazon for £90.

Portable speakers


Sonos Roam

Sonos Roam speaker standing on a patch of grass.
The Sonos Roam is ready to get the party started on the road or at home. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

RRP: £159 – refurbished from £130.

If you want something better than the myriad of cheap, not-great Bluetooth speakers that are available to buy, the Sonos Roam is so good, you’ll want to use it in your home, too.

Use it on wifi when at home or on Bluetooth when on the road. It’s water-resistant and durable, the battery lasts up to 10 hours, and it can fill a room with music despite its diminutive water-bottle-like size. It costs £159 without microphones or £179 with voice control.

Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2

Multiple people with phones streaming music to the Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2 speaker
The small but mighty Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2 offers big sound for a bit less. Photograph: David Biedert/Ultimate Ears

RRP: £90 – deals from £70, refurbished from £55.

If you are looking to spend a little less money but want something that’s just as durable and boasts really decent sound, the Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2 is still one of the best Bluetooth speakers you can get. It can be picked up for about £55 onwards. The compact Bluetooth speaker is drop-proof, has 13 hours of battery life and water resistance.

Chargers and adaptors


Go Travel Worldwide Adaptor

Go Travel Worldwide Adaptor
Go Travel Worldwide Adaptor. Photograph: Design Go Ltd

RRP: £30 – deals from £26.

Juggling multiple power adaptors when travelling can be a pain, so the Go Travel Worldwide travel adaptor aims to be a one-for-all solution. It takes UK and other plugs, with slide-out pins for the UK, US, China and Australia, plus two-prong Europe sockets. It is available with two USB charging sockets for £40, too.

Anker 543 USB charger

The Anker 543 charger with four USB cables plugged into it.
The Anker 543 can charge up to four things at once, and can output up to 45W via a USB-C port, which is enough for a laptop. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

RRP: £45.

For more powerful gadgets, a multicharger such as this – it can charge up to four things at once – is the way to go. This super-slim but high-powered 65W Anker charger is my to-go, with two USB-C ports and two USB-A ports capable of charging most modern gadgets, from smartphones to laptops.

Portable battery chargers


Anker PowerCore Slim 10000 PD

The PowerCore Slim 10000 PD portable power bank.
The PowerCore Slim 10000 PD has enough power to fast-charge your phone twice or a tablet once. Photograph: Anker

RRP: £36.99.

Thankfully, modern smartphones have much better battery life, making portable chargers less of a necessity. But if you are running low and a plug isn’t within reach, the PowerCore Slim 10000 PD has the best balance of capacity, weight and charge speed, with USB-A and USB-C ports.

TV

Roku Streaming Stick 4K

Roku Streaming Stick 4K and remote.
Take your media streaming with you, even on difficult hotel wifi. Photograph: Roku

RRP: £50.

Sometimes the weather isn’t great, or you just need to take a break in your hotel room. Armed with a streaming stick, you can put your favourite TV shows or movies on any TV by just plugging it into power and an HDMI socket on the back.

The Roku Streaming Stick has a dedicated mode for dealing with difficult hotel wifi but Amazon’s recent Fire TV sticks (from £30) should be able to connect, too.

USB-C to HDMI cable

From £10.

If a streaming stick is a no-go and you have a modern Android phone, tablet or laptop, a USB-C to HDMI cable can hook it up to a TV like an external monitor. All PCs and Macs with USB-C ports will work, as will many high-end Android phones and Apple iPads with USB-C, but not the iPhone without a pricey adaptor.

Windscreen mount

A Ugreen windscreen phone mount.
Stick your phone to the windshield for use as a satnav and take some of the stress out of holiday drives. Photograph: Ugreen

From £10.

If you are hiring a car, a suction-cup windscreen mount that can turn your smartphone into a satnav may make life easier. Costing from about £6, mounts range in strength and size, with Ugreen’s well-reviewed model fitting most smartphones for £17.

Alternatively, your hire car may have Android Auto or Apple’s CarPlay. Just plug in your phone with a USB cable to put Google or Apple Maps on the built-in display.

Cable tidy

Keep the clutter of cables and chargers tidy on the road with these zip-up bags.
Keep the clutter of cables and chargers tidy on the road with these zip-up bags. Photograph: Bagsmart

From £10.

If your party is taking a number of devices on holiday, a cable organiser can help deal with the clutter of leads and chargers. They come in a variety of sizes, from rollup tool bags to hard-case boxes, with elastic loops to keep individual cables out the way. My pick are the zippered wallets that are small enough to shove in your hand luggage, such as the £16 Bagsmart.

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Culture

Top 10 Florida Cities Dominate The Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

Top 10 Florida Cities And Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

The Voice Of EU | Florida emerges as a hub for entrepreneurial endeavors, with its vibrant business landscape and conducive environment for startups. Renowned for its low corporate tax rates and a high concentration of investors, the Sunshine State beckons aspiring entrepreneurs seeking fertile grounds to launch and grow their businesses.

In a recent report by WalletHub, Florida cities dominate the list of the top 10 best destinations for business startups, showcasing their resilience and economic vitality amidst challenging times.

From Orlando’s thriving market to Miami’s dynamic ecosystem, each city offers unique advantages and opportunities for entrepreneurial success. Let’s delve into the chronologically listed cities that exemplify Florida’s prominence in the business startup arena.

1. Orlando Leads the Way: Orlando emerges as the most attractive market in the U.S. for business startups, with a remarkable surge in small business establishments. WalletHub’s latest report highlights Orlando’s robust ecosystem, fostering the survival and growth of startups, buoyed by a high concentration of investors per capita.

2. Tampa Takes Second Place: Securing the second spot among large cities for business startups, Tampa boasts a favorable business environment attributed to its low corporate tax rates. The city’s ample investor presence further fortifies startups, providing essential resources for navigating the initial years of business operations.

3. Charlotte’s Diverse Industries: Claiming the third position, Charlotte stands out for its diverse industrial landscape and exceptionally low corporate taxes, enticing companies to reinvest capital. This conducive environment propels entrepreneurial endeavors, contributing to sustained economic growth.

4. Jacksonville’s Rising Profile: Jacksonville emerges as a promising destination for startups, bolstered by its favorable business climate. The city’s strategic positioning fosters entrepreneurial ventures, attracting aspiring business owners seeking growth opportunities.

5. Miami’s Entrepreneurial Hub: Miami solidifies its position as a thriving entrepreneurial hub, attracting businesses with its dynamic ecosystem and strategic location. The city’s vibrant startup culture and supportive infrastructure make it an appealing destination for ventures of all sizes.

6. Atlanta’s Economic Momentum: Atlanta’s ascent in the business startup landscape underscores its economic momentum and favorable business conditions. The city’s strategic advantages and conducive policies provide a fertile ground for entrepreneurial ventures to flourish.

7. Fort Worth’s Business-Friendly Environment: Fort Worth emerges as a prime destination for startups, offering a business-friendly environment characterized by low corporate taxes. The city’s supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives facilitate the growth and success of new ventures.

8. Austin’s Innovation Hub: Austin cements its status as an innovation hub, attracting startups with its vibrant entrepreneurial community and progressive policies. The city’s robust infrastructure and access to capital foster a conducive environment for business growth and innovation.

9. Durham’s Emerging Entrepreneurship Scene: Durham’s burgeoning entrepreneurship scene positions it as a promising destination for startups, fueled by its supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives. The city’s collaborative culture and access to resources contribute to the success of new ventures.

10. St. Petersburg’s Thriving Business Community: St. Petersburg rounds off the top 10 with its thriving business community and supportive ecosystem for startups. The city’s strategic advantages and favorable business climate make it an attractive destination for entrepreneurial endeavors.

Despite unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great Resignation, and high inflation, these top Florida cities remain resilient and well-equipped to overcome obstacles, offering promising opportunities for business owners and entrepreneurs alike.


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Culture

European Startup Ecosystems Awash With Gulf Investment – Here Are Some Of The Top Investors

European Startup Ecosystem Getting Flooded With Gulf Investments

The Voice Of EU | In recent years, European entrepreneurs seeking capital infusion have widened their horizons beyond the traditional American investors, increasingly turning their gaze towards the lucrative investment landscape of the Gulf region. With substantial capital reservoirs nestled within sovereign wealth funds and corporate venture capital entities, Gulf nations have emerged as compelling investors for European startups and scaleups.

According to comprehensive data from Dealroom, the influx of investment from Gulf countries into European startups soared to a staggering $3 billion in 2023, marking a remarkable 5x surge from the $627 million recorded in 2018.

This substantial injection of capital, accounting for approximately 5% of the total funding raised in the region, underscores the growing prominence of Gulf investors in European markets.

Particularly noteworthy is the significant support extended to growth-stage companies, with over two-thirds of Gulf investments in 2023 being directed towards funding rounds exceeding $100 million. This influx of capital provides a welcome boost to European companies grappling with the challenge of securing well-capitalized investors locally.

Delving deeper into the landscape, Sifted has identified the most active Gulf investors in European startups over the past two years.

Leading the pack is Aramco Ventures, headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Bolstered by a substantial commitment, Aramco Ventures boasts a $1.5 billion sustainability fund, alongside an additional $4 billion allocated to its venture capital arm, positioning it as a formidable player with a total investment capacity of $7 billion by 2027. With a notable presence in 17 funding rounds, Aramco Ventures has strategically invested in ventures such as Carbon Clean Solutions and ANYbotics, aligning with its focus on businesses that offer strategic value.

Following closely is Mubadala Capital, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, UAE, with an impressive tally of 13 investments in European startups over the past two years. Backed by the sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company, Mubadala Capital’s diverse investment portfolio spans private equity, venture capital, and alternative solutions. Notable investments include Klarna, TIER, and Juni, reflecting its global investment strategy across various sectors.

Ventura Capital, based in Dubai, UAE, secured its position as a key player with nine investments in European startups. With a presence in Dubai, London, and Tokyo, Ventura Capital boasts an international network of limited partners and a sector-agnostic investment approach, contributing to its noteworthy investments in companies such as Coursera and Spotify.

Qatar Investment Authority, headquartered in Doha, Qatar, has made significant inroads into the European startup ecosystem with six notable investments. As the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar, QIA’s diversified portfolio spans private and public equity, infrastructure, and real estate, with strategic investments in tech startups across healthcare, consumer, and industrial sectors.

MetaVision Dubai, a newcomer to the scene, has swiftly garnered attention with six investments in European startups. Focusing on seed to Series A startups in the metaverse and Web3 space, MetaVision raised an undisclosed fund in 2022, affirming its commitment to emerging technologies and innovative ventures.

Investcorp, headquartered in Manama, Bahrain, has solidified its presence with six investments in European startups. With a focus on mid-sized B2B businesses, Investcorp’s diverse investment strategies encompass private equity, real estate, infrastructure, and credit management, contributing to its notable investments in companies such as Terra Quantum and TruKKer.

Chimera Capital, based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, rounds off the list with four strategic investments in European startups. As part of a prominent business conglomerate, Chimera Capital leverages its global reach and sector-agnostic approach to drive investments in ventures such as CMR Surgical and Neat Burger.

In conclusion, the burgeoning influx of capital from Gulf investors into European startups underscores the region’s growing appeal as a vibrant hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. With key players such as Aramco Ventures, Mubadala Capital, and Ventura Capital leading the charge, European startups are poised to benefit from the strategic investments and partnerships forged with Gulf investors, propelling them towards sustained growth and success in the global market landscape.


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Current

China Reveals Lunar Mission: Sending ‘Taikonauts’ To The Moon From 2030 Onwards

China Reveals Lunar Mission

The Voice Of EU | In a bold stride towards lunar exploration, the Chinese Space Agency has unveiled its ambitious plans for a moon landing set to unfold in the 2030s. While exact timelines remain uncertain, this endeavor signals a potential resurgence of the historic space race reminiscent of the 1960s rivalry between the United States and the USSR.

China’s recent strides in lunar exploration include the deployment of three devices on the moon’s surface, coupled with the successful launch of the Queqiao-2 satellite. This satellite serves as a crucial communication link, bolstering connectivity between Earth and forthcoming missions to the moon’s far side and south pole.

Unlike the secretive approach of the Soviet Union in the past, China’s strategy leans towards transparency, albeit with a hint of mystery surrounding the finer details. Recent revelations showcase the naming and models of lunar spacecraft, steeped in cultural significance. The Mengzhou, translating to “dream ship,” will ferry three astronauts to and from the moon, while the Lanyue, meaning “embrace the moon,” will descend to the lunar surface.

Drawing inspiration from both Russian and American precedents, China’s lunar endeavor presents a novel approach. Unlike its predecessors, China will employ separate launches for the manned module and lunar lander due to the absence of colossal space shuttles. This modular approach bears semblance to SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, reflecting a contemporary adaptation of past achievements.

Upon reaching lunar orbit, astronauts, known as “taikonauts” in Chinese, will rendezvous with the lunar lander, reminiscent of the Apollo program’s maneuvers. However, distinct engineering choices mark China’s departure from traditional lunar landing methods.

The Chinese lunar lander, while reminiscent of the Apollo Lunar Module, introduces novel features such as a single set of engines and potential reusability and advance technology. Unlike past missions where lunar modules were discarded, China’s design hints at the possibility of refueling and reuse, opening avenues for sustained lunar exploration.

China Reveals Lunar Mission: Sending 'Taikonauts' To The Moon From 2030 Onwards
A re-creation of the two Chinese spacecraft that will put ‘taikonauts’ on the moon.CSM

Despite these advancements, experts have flagged potential weaknesses, particularly regarding engine protection during landing. Nevertheless, China’s lunar aspirations remain steadfast, with plans for extensive testing and site selection underway.

Beyond planting flags and collecting rocks, China envisions establishing a permanent lunar base, the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS), ushering in a new era of international collaboration in space exploration.

While the Artemis agreements spearheaded by NASA have garnered global support, China’s lunar ambitions stand as a formidable contender in shaping the future of space exploration. In conclusion, China’s unveiling of its lunar ambitions not only marks a significant milestone in space exploration but also sets the stage for a new chapter in the ongoing saga of humanity’s quest for the cosmos. As nations vie for supremacy in space, collaboration and innovation emerge as the cornerstones of future lunar endeavors.


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