Planning on taking yourself off on a sports holiday this year? Whether you're strapping a snowboard to your feet, clambering onto a mountain bike or hitting the waves on your surfboard, you're going to need at least a few key pieces of tech to get the most out of your active trip.
I headed out to the Italian Alps, armed with my snowboard and six shiny new gadgets, each one bringing a splash of tech luxury to the slopes in its own special way.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX77
If you want to capture the beauty of your holiday destination, to show off to all your friends, then a decent camera will be first on your list of must-have action sports gadgets. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX77 is a very slender compact digital camera, meaning it's much easier to carry around than a chunky digital SLR but offers significantly better image quality than your standard phone camera.
The Lumix DMC-FX77 handled the bright sun and crisp white snow of the Alps extremely well. It was durable enough for me to not worry about it in my pocket as I boarded down the mountain. Mix in the new Adobe Lightroom 4 when you get back to your laptop and you could be posting artsy shots of your trip on Facebook in no time.
You can buy the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX77 from £180.
GoPro Hero 2
Of course, pictures aren't going to do all that action justice -- you're going to need to grab some movies too. The GoPro Hero 2 is a video camera capable of capturing Full HD footage, while being small enough to attach to your helmet. It's sufficiently durable to face the thrills and spills of an action holiday.
The high quality of its video recordings and wide-angle lens has helped make it the industry standard for extreme sports footage, as showcased in this glorious video.
At around £250, it's not be the cheapest thing to take with you, but rest assured that it'll happily keep going, even after you tumble halfway down a mountain after mistiming a turn. And I should know.
Sony Walkman NWZ-B173
A blast of music is a surefire way to get you pumped up for action without the need to overdose on caffeine. I personally wasn't happy to take my expensive iPhone on the slopes though, so I opted for Sony's B Series MP3 player, loaded up with adrenaline-charging metal and drum and bass tunes.
It's cheap enough that if it did break or fall out of your pocket, it wouldn't cost you the Earth to replace. The 4GB capacity holds plenty of tracks and the battery will easily keep going for a whole day on the slopes. It charges over USB and has simple drag-and-drop functionality, meaning there's one less thing to stress over on holiday.
The Sony Walkman NWZ-B173 is available now for £35.
Klipsch Image S5i Rugged
You've got the tunes, now you need the headphones to go with them. The Klipsch Image S5i Rugged provides good clarity and great bass response -- perfect for those hardcore songs. They're small and light enough to sit in your ear without danger of falling out with every movement.
The cable is thick and tangle-resistant too and you'll find a big remote halfway up that controls your media. This also houses a microphone for taking calls. The controller only works with iPhones and iPods though, so if you're using it with the Sony player above, don't expect to cycle through your tracks.
At around £70, they're a reasonably priced step-up from the bundled headphones you'd normally get. What's more, they're durable and can be stuffed inside your jacket or bundled into a ball in your pocket without worrying about the cable.
Recon MOD Live
If, like me, your action holiday involves snowboarding, then you're going to need some decent goggles. Think that's not a gadget? Think again. The goggles pictured above come with the Recon MOD Live system installed that puts a screen in the bottom of the lens.
Using GPS, it allows you to see your speed, altitude and various other bits of information in real-time as you travel down the slopes. Using the wrist controller (also pictured above), you can switch to different views and check out your top speeds of the day. As it runs on Android, you can even hook it up via Bluetooth to an Android phone to control your music playlists and see call information.
At over £200 (for just the MOD Live unit without the goggles), it's certainly not the cheapest thing you could take with you. But it definitely adds an extra element of fun, especially if one of your friends has one -- you can compete over the top speed, perhaps with a free dinner or a beer as the prize.
Bose SoundLink Wireless Mobile
Why let the fun stop when you've tired of the slopes? If you've got a few mates with you, what could be better than slapping on some good music in your chalet and cracking open a few cold ones? The Bose SoundLink fits the bill nicely for this.
It may be a touch weighty, but it's small enough to cram into your kit bag -- or even into your plane carry-on luggage -- and it's sturdy for withstanding the mistreatment dished out by heavy-handed baggage handlers.
It's Bluetooth-enabled and can run off internal rechargeable batteries, letting you easily carry it onto the balcony for tunes with a view. It might not have the best bass response, but it's loud enough for a modest chalet's living room. The durability of its build means you don't need to be in constant terror of your drunk friend knocking it off the table, while attempting to perch on the edge like an owl.