Frequent travelers know that their luggage is subject to all sorts of abuse, but may not know the fine points of the manufacturers’ warranties. For example, Tumi, the company that made it’s name and justified its high prices on a no questions asked lifetime guarantee, no longer offers that. And some brands limit their lifetime warrantees to specific models and exclude their products purchased outside of the country or damage caused by the airlines. 

The table below (compiled by Briggs & Riley) shows among the leading brands only Briggs & Riley leads the pack with its lifetime warranty on all of its products for any reason whatsoever.  From my testing of many of these brands, they are among the best engineered and most solidly built. They’re moderately priced, and taking into account their warranty, offer some of the best values.  (Click table below to enlarge.)
Luggage Warranties Exposed  




With Mother's day just a few days away, here are some suggestions for last-minute, tech-inspired gifts.

Breville, an Australian company, has created a line of appliances that are cleverly designed with unique features, some with a sense of humor. Its Die-Cast 2-Slice Smart Toaster (BTA820XL) is beautifully constructed and has several unique buttons. One labeled "a little bit more" lowers the toast after it pops up to provide a little more toasting time, and a second "lift and look" raises the toast while it's toasting to check and then lowers it back to continue toasting. ($130)

Its new One-Touch Tea Maker BTM800XL ($250) is another unique appliance that does for tea what an automatic coffee maker does for coffee. It consists of a glass carafe and a stainless steel clad base that heats the water and 
Btm800xl-feature1  controls the operation. Set the type of tea and the amount of water, and the device chooses the correct water temperature and brewing time. Once the water is up to temperature, a motorized tea basket in the carafe slowly moves downward like an elevator, sits at the bottom for the appropriate time, then moves upwards and out of the water when the brewing is done. I made the tea for this review and my wife said it was as good as her manual method. I guess that's a semi-endorsement. A built-in timer lets you set it to turn on in the morning and have the tea ready. ($250,

The Plantronics Discovery 975 accessory Bluetooth headset is appealing to women with its slim jewelry-like design. It has clear sound and does a good job of removing background and wind noise. It comes with a small case with a second battery for recharging while not being used. ($130)

A digital picture frame loaded with family pictures makes a great gift. One of the better models is the Kodak Pulse 7-Inch Digital Frame. It's WiFi enabled and can receive images by e-mail, Facebook or from Kodak's photo site. You can also add images using an SD card. ($80).

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Or consider a new camera. The new Lumix DMC-ZS7 takes terrific images, both still photos and hi-res movies, has a 25-300mm (equivalent) 12X mm zoom lens, and a built-in GPS to identify where the pictures were taken. Imagine my surprise when I took a picture of my grandson at the new Children's Museum in downtown San Diego, and up popped "San Diego Children's Museum" on the display. It stores this info with the pictures to help you search for them later. The camera also has a new type of processor to enhance fuzzy images and adjust exposure over individual parts of the image. Yet it's still small enough to tuck into a small purse. ($399,

If you're just interested in movies, the Flip Mineo HD is a tiny camcorder that makes great HD movies. It's one of the simplest products to use, plugging into the USB port of a computer to automatically transfer the movies into the computer to watch or share with others. ($200,