Last week I gave you a guide to some of the best, most popular, and little-known travel planning Web sites.
This week I'll help you find the best online resources for travelers, including sites with restaurant and hotel reviews, and more.
Menu Pages. This guide to over 25,000 restaurants in eight metro areas provides user reviews and downloadable menus.
OpenTable.com. Want to book a table for four people tomorrow night at 8 o'clock? OpenTable.com lets you quickly discover which restaurants in a given city (20 in the U.S., a few internationally) have availability at a particular time, then book a table. Members earn points that can be redeemed for discounts at participating eateries. OpenTable.com includes links to reviews in Zagat.com and other sites.
Zagat. The famed guide to restaurants, featuring consumer reviews and ratings, is available digitally in several forms. You can get restaurant details for free on your laptop (but no ratings or reviews) or cell phone Web browser. For $5 (for 30 days) or $25 (for 12 months), you can access Zagat's reviews and ratings on a laptop or cell phone browser. Other options: Download the Zagat application and database ($30) onto your Palm, BlackBerry, or Pocket PC handheld; or buy a CD-ROM for your computer ($30). Go to the Zagat Survey Shop for info on these service.
Chowhound. This foodie site features reviews and tips from diners around the world, plus interviews with experts; forums; videos; and blogs.
TripAdvisor. Here's where hotel junkies trade secrets, reviews, tips, and photos. Users rate hotels on such things as service, value, and cleanliness. The site features forums, in which travelers pose questions to other travelers. You can also book hotel and airline reservations.
USAToday.com. The newspaper's Hotel Hotsheet blog is ideal for keeping up with the latest hotel trends and news.
HotelChatter. This blog has tons of hotel news, gossip, and reviews, as well as annually updated lists of the best and worst hotels with Wi-Fi.
Google Maps. I've had mixed success with all the mapping/direction sites. But I use Google Maps most often, because I love the satellite and street view features and the real-time traffic updates. I also use Google Maps on my Treo for on-the-go driving directions without a GPS.
Weather.com. For thousands of cities worldwide, Weather.com lets see how local weather will affect outdoor activities; allergies; skin conditions; even weddings.
YouTube. There are thousands of user-posted videos in the Travel & Places categories.
Travelistic.com. This is probably the most travel-focused video sharing site, with over 5000 videos shot by and for travelers.
One-Stop Resources for Travelers
USAToday.com. The newspaper's Travel site aggregates tons of tools and information for travelers, including MileTracker, a downloadable application for tracking frequent flier miles and MileMarker, a calculator that helps you determine how many miles you'll need to fly from points A to B.
Town & Country Travel. The high-end travel magazine's Web site features a useful directory of linked travel resources. Ask the Concierge, an online feature in which concierges at renowned hotels are grilled about what to do and see in their city, is worth a read. The site recently launched, however, so you're likely to find only a few Ask the Concierge entries.
Concierge.com. The Web site for Conde Nast Traveler features helpful tools, including a database of travel agents, destination video clips, and Suitcase, an interactive travel planning tool.
Your Travel Bookmarks?
Have I missed your favorite Web travel-related sites? If so, share them with me at firstname.lastname@example.org . Please be sure to include your full name and location.
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Mobile Computing News, Reviews, & Tips
Fall's Sleek Cell Phones: Our pictorial guide to this fall's Apple iPhone competitors includes the Sprint Touch, manufactured by HTC. As its name implies, the Windows Mobile 6 Touch uses a touch screen to speed navigation. Though you can't pinch or squeeze with the Touch interface, as you can with the iPhone, it does offer some cool shortcuts.
More $200-ish Laptops: Nicholas Negroponte's One Laptop Per Child initiative isn't the only inexpensive portable in the news. Intel's Classmate PC will cost about $200 to manufacture and will be aimed at least initially at schoolkids in Brazil, Nigeria, and some Asian countries (it won't be sold to consumers). Asus's Eee PC, now available for preorder, costs $260 to $400.
How to Remove Craplets: Craplets are those unwanted programs and utilities that come preinstalled on many consumer PCs. They hog hard drive space and can slow your system. Among the 20 (mostly free) downloads you can't live without is PC De-Crapifier, which will remove most if not all of those unwanted programs.
Is there a particularly cool mobile computing product or service I've missed? Got a spare story idea in your back pocket? Tell me about it. However, I regret that I'm unable to respond to tech-support questions, due to the volume of e-mail I receive.
Contributing Editor James A. Martin offers tools, tips, and product recommendations to help you make the most of computing on the go. Martin is also author of the Traveler 2.0 blog. Sign up to have the Mobile Computing Newsletter e-mailed to you each week.