My 80 gig video iPod, and my Shure E5-C headphones. I’ve had Etymotic headphones, which I’d swear were the best in-ear earbuds I could possibly hear, but the Shures (a Christmas gift) outdo them, both in how well they isolate outside noise, and in their sound. It’s so rich and detailed that at first it sounded almost phony — too real, too rich. But then I got used to them. Perfect for planes. Two downsides, though. To get them to stay in place, you have to loop the cord over your ears, which takes a long moment, and can be a little cumbersome. Plus there’s a whine when I use them with my laptop, on battery power. But still I love them.
And the iPod! I wondered how I’d feel about the small screen, but it’s no problem at all, except maybe for distance shots in which you’re supposed to be able to make out details like the wording of a sign. But after many hours of use, I find this doesn’t bother me at all. And it’s far outweighed by the convenience — no, the intimacy — of holding a movie in my hand. This is the perfect stress-buster for travel. I can even look forward to my weekly flights to Rochester, if I make one simple rule — no work allowed on the plane or in the airport — and if I look forward to 40 minutes or so of peaceful movie-watching in the air.