Best Portable Devices for a Long Plane Flight

Life is good when you're down on the ground and have access to all the wonderful things that keep you entertained. Life isn't exactly peachy, however, when you're stuck in coach during a 10-hour flight to Tokyo. Fortunately, portable electronics offer a way to keep you occupied without occupying too much space. Here are five portable devices to consider bringing with you on an extended plane flight.

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Noise-Cancelling Headphones

A-Audio Icon headphones
A-Audio includes everything but the kitchen sink into its feature-laden Icon wireless headphones, but at a price. A-Audio

This is an old-school pick right here but as someone who has a hard time sleeping in planes, it can be a godsend during a long flight. Options range from lighter versions to more bulky fare but also make sure you check out how it sounds when listening to music as that's the main reason you get headphones in the first place. Examples I've personally tried out include the A-Audio Icon Wireless and the SMS Street by 50

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MP3 Player

Sansa Clip+. Photo © Sansa

The "Old Reliable" of portable devices, music players provide plenty of listening enjoyment in a tiny package. They also typically have great battery life — a must when traveling for a long time. In fact, although smartphones have replaced MP3 players as the go-to device for listening to tunes on the go, one big advantage of using a dedicated player during travel is that it saves your phone's juice so you can still have it for phone calls or checking the Interwebs before or after your flight. One example I would recommend is the Sansa Clip+ or something similar. For tips on choosing an MP3 player, check out this guide.

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Media Player

Image © Amazon

A step up from the MP3 player, portable media players allow you to not just listen to music but also watch a video. Top contenders include consumer slate tablets such as Apple's iPad and Amazon's Kindle Fire line. Many of today's cell phones also double as media players so you might have such a device already. If you do use a phone, make sure you put it on "airplane mode" or turn off your connections. Looking for a media player? Here are some pointers.

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eBook Reader

Kobo Glo HD

If you're more the intellectual type, an eBook reader such as Amazon's Kindle as well as the Kobo or Nook fits the bill nicely. The fact that you can load several books on these devices also means you don't have to agonize over which book to bring due to space limitations. Unlike tablets, E Ink readers have the benefit of being easier on the eyes but not all of them have to backlight. If you want one that comes with built-in lighting, Amazon Kindle options such as the Paperwhite or Voyage are an option. Not sure which one to buy? Here's some help.

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A Game System

New Nintendo 3DS XL
The New Nintendo 3DS XL. Nintendo

For gamers, devices such as the Nintendo 3DS and Sony PS Vita are a must-have for traveling. With a lot more casual games available these days — especially for the 3DS — you don't even have to be a hard-core gamer to enjoy gaming on the go. For fans of Nintendo's portable system, the New Nintendo 3DS adds an extra nub so you no longer have to lug over a bulky slide pad for full control of games that require adjusting your camera view. The Vita hasn't gotten as much support as the 3DS, unfortunately, but it does have a good library of indie games.

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Portable Battery Pack

The JunoPower external battery serves as a jumper for your car, too. JunoPower

Battery packs offer a great way to extend the life of power-hungry devices such as the Sony PSP or media players used for viewing a video. The only caveat is that your portable device has to be chargeable via USB, which is the de facto interface these devices typically use. Options include mini sticks that double as flashlights to large bricks that can charge a whole laptop. For tips on picking one, check out our Tips for Picking a Portable Charger and Battery Pack.

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A Gadget Backpack

Booq Cobra Pack
Booq Cobra Pack. Booq

If you travel with a lot of gadgets, a backpack with multiple pockets and compartments will be a great help. Lots of pockets mean you can organize your stuff and put similar devices in the same pocket to help you keep track of them more easily. Other things to think about are ease of access to your stuff in case you like shoving your backpack under the plane seat in front of you as well as good padding to protect laptops and tablets. For more pointers, check our article, "Bag It: Packs for Your Portables and Gadgets."