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Tech for travellers at home

Leica SL2, body, £5,300, Summicron-SL 35mm f/2 lens, £3,900

A DSLR camera with 20:20 vision

It’s possibly a bold statement, but this new full-frame, mirrorless Leica is as good as any camera, given current technology, can be. The 47-megapixel sensor is technically breathtaking. And in combination with the lens with which my sample came (the Summicron-SL 35mm f/2 lens, considered by some to produce the sharpest and most detailed shots ever possible), it is unbelievably good, even if the photos I have been able to take of late have been undistinguished because they are mostly of the view from my study window.

The SL2 is not, however, a camera you are likely to have casually slung about you when you need it. It’s big and heavy, although less so than a serious Nikon or Canon DSLR, which makes it one to bring out only on a photo-taking mission. And while it can work as a point-and-shoot, you really need time to study its prodigious capabilities to justify the price. But it’s worth swotting up.

Leica SL2, body, £5,300, Summicron-SL 35mm f/2 lens, £3,900,


Plane Finder, free on Apple App Store and Google Play

Wish you were there?

I’ve been having hours of fascinating fun without leaving home, thanks to a free phone app. It’s a British-designed augmented-reality app called Plane Finder. When you see an aircraft, you sight it up with your camera phone and immediately get a detailed report from the plane’s transponder of the airline, the type of plane, where it’s going to and from, its height, speed and registration.

I live almost under the flight path into Heathrow and, as an aviation and travel geek, I enjoy checking out where planes are landing from. But with one every 30 seconds at traffic peaks, the fun palled quite quickly. I used to be blasé about seeing, say, a BA 787 that I’ve actually boarded in New York (I said I was a plane geek). However, now, with so few planes in the air, it’s a thing of wonder – a connection to a temporarily lost world. And to a currently rather mysterious world too, of 3am cargo flights, private jets and military aircraft flying hither and yon.

Plane Finder, free on Apple App Store and Google Play


Pocketalk S Gold, £399

Brush up your Japanese, French, German…

Give your languages a polish in preparation for a future in which foreign travel is allowed. Translation devices have developed steadily, rather than exponentially, since around 2005. As I’ve reported here, whether for tourist or business travel, there’s always a caveat – they need to be connected to WiFi, or tethered to a tenuous 4G connection on your phone. This little Japanese-designed machine irons out pretty much every bump. It translates between any combination of 74 languages, comes with a built-in unlimited-data eSIM that works in over 130 countries and regions, and can interpret bursts of conversation of up to 30 seconds – longer than is natural in any normal interchange – spoken at normal speed. I tested this in both directions with a Japanese speaker and, while I can’t say if the translation was perfect, we understood each other perfectly.

Pocketalk S Gold, £399,


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