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Photos: Crave goes snowboarding

When your favourite tech blog goes snowboarding, it doesn't do it by halves -- we tooled up with the latest snow-friendly gadgets and tested them in the wild

Gadgets

Casio Pro-Trek PRG-80L-3VER watch
£160

Perched in the winter snow like an alien spacecraft, the 3VER watch is the ultimate sub-zero chonograph. We were never without this darling throughout our snowboarding holiday. Unfortunately, it neglected to warn us of impending doom on the final day when we got stuck on the wrong side of the mountain and missed our plane home. Oops.

Schoffel Protector Range
£500 (jacket), £230 (trousers)

Whether you're a rookie boarder or a seasoned off-pister, this Schoffel uniform is indispensable. Incorporating a new material from British sports technologists d3o, the jacket protects key impact points such as your knees and elbows by hardening on collision. According to d3o, intelligent molecules flex as you move but clump together when subjected to a sudden force, meaning they take the damage from bumps and falls.

What sounds like science hogwash turned out remarkably effective, with the jacket proving to be indispensable to a learner member of our group. Complaining of no aches or pains, there was much après-ski amusement to be had from punching our unwitting subject to test the technology out. It may not be cheap, and the bright green colour of our test model wasn't met with universal approval, but d3o is certainly an exciting advancement in sports technology.

Samsung VP-X220L Miniket Sports Camcorder
£460

If there was one gadget that every member of our group wanted to play with, it was Samsung's tough new camcorder. Designed to take everything the slopes can throw at you, the Miniket packs 2GB of solid state memory into a small but rugged case. The killer feature is a head-mountable attachment, meaning that you can turn your runs down the mountain into an extreme sports video.

The Miniket is a great all-round camcorder on or off the slopes. It doesn't boast the highest quality footage, but it's small enough to put in your pocket and is a doddle to use even with gloves on. It'll also store photos and MP3 files, and the low price of SD cards means you can double the memory for under £20 and leave the camera and iPod at the hotel.

Via Michelin X980T
£360

We may have been in the foreign hills of Italy, but thankfully a well-spoken English woman was on-hand to guide us, courtesy of the Via Michelin X980T. This high-end GPS system has maps for all major European countries, and our remote Italian resort proved to be no challenge for the system. Once you arrive at your destination, the built-in Michelin guide can advise you of 51,000 hotels, 19,000 tourist sites and 2.5 million points of interest, as well as how to get there from your current location.

The biggest recommendation we can give the X980T is that it got us from the airport to the hotel even before the people who were familiar with the route -- not bad for a two-hour drive across winding country roads. The touchscreen interface can be slightly cumbersome at first, but we managed get acquainted without having to use a manual. The package also includes free access to real-time traffic information, and like any modern gadget worth its salt, it will link via Bluetooth to a mobile phone.

Apple MacBook 2.0GHz
£879

If you're capturing photos and videos from the slopes then there's no point having them sit on an SD card somewhere at the bottom of your bag. Apple's MacBook has everything a snowboarding technophile needs out of the box, and it's cool enough to offer you some credibility with the fashion-conscious snowboarding crew.

Unless you want to play games on the plane, the MacBook is the best laptop on the market. It's an absolute joy to use, is impeccably designed, and ski update widgets are built right into the OS X operating system. It would certainly benefit from having an integrated SD card slot, but everything else we needed was built right in. If you want the completely integrated approach, then Apple's .Mac service allows you to upload directly to a Web site from its iLife software suite for £69 a year. However, services such as YouTube and Flickr allow you to upload content for free while aggregating the content on Blogger without spending a penny.

Nintendo DS Lite
£100

Let's face it, snowboarding's hard work. When you've just hit the bottom of that amazing run, you're probably ready for a break, and that's when you pull out the Nintendo DS Lite. A more rugged, stylish and comfortable version of the original DS, the Lite version frankly looks like it was designed by Apple, and is all the better for it.

While the only snowboarding game for the platform is the rather mediocre SBK: Snowboard Kids, Tony Hawk's American Sk8land fulfils the alternative sport quotient. Added to which, there are an abundance of high-quality titles on the DS, most notably New Super Mario Bros., Dr Kawashima's Brain Training and the forthcoming Elite Beat Agents. There's also an Internet browser available if you want to check your email or browse for local amenities while on holiday.

Burton Audex Jacket
£380

Jake Burton Carpenter is credited as one of snowboarding's early pioneers, and as the founder and owner of Burton Snowboards, he's still heavily involved in the sport. His latest invention is a jacket that's laced with Motorola technology, allowing you to listen to music and make phone calls while you cut fresh powder. The Audex jacket features an iPod connector in the breast pocket and a Bluetooth link to your mobile phone. It also houses stereo headphones in the collar and a microphone on the zip, while everything is operated by a sleeve-mounted control panel.

When equipped with the battery pack and a full-size iPod, the Audex jacket is relatively bulky, and you certainly wouldn't want to fall on your chest while wearing it. The control panel doesn't feature the famous iPod Click Wheel, so creating playlists is a must if you have a large music collection. Having said that, the Burton Audex jacket was comfortable, hard-wearing and eminently fashionable, while boarding down the mountain listening to your favourite music is an exhilarating experience. -GC

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