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ROAD TEST

Weigh to go

August 12, 2007|Rosemary McClure

"More than 50 pounds, pay $50." It's an easy way to remember that a bag checked on a domestic flight and weighing more than 50 pounds may cost as much as $50 in overweight fees. Weight limits are even more restrictive and costly on many international flights. That's why you often see beleaguered travelers kneeling on the floor in front of airport check-in counters trying to transfer belongings from one bag to another. This week we tested three scales that can make a traveler's life simpler. And we'd like to offer some additional advice: Airline scales aren't always accurate, so allow a pound or so as a cushion, and always make sure the scale begins at zero.

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READ THE TINY TYPE

First look: Travelon's Luggage Scale knows how to multi-task. It weighs luggage, and its tiny tape measure will size up dimensions, just in case you're wondering whether your carry-on will fit in the overhead compartment. The scale, about the size of a deck of cards, is made in the U.S., is easy to use and weighs luggage up to 75 pounds. Hook it to your suitcase, lift, and the dial registers the weight and locks it so you can put the case down and check the pounds or kilograms -- it registers both.

Likes and yikes: It's small, light and cheap, but it does the job. You may have to squint to read the weight because the scale is so small. Barring that, it seems like a winner.

The 411: $9.95, available from travel shops and from Magellan's Travel Supplies, (800) 962-4943, www.magellan's.com.

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YOU HAD US AT 'HELLO'

First look: The readout on the front of the Balanzza Digital Luggage Scale says "hello" when you turn it on. Hook it to your bag, lift, wait for a beep and set the suitcase back down. The readout will show how much the bag weighs. You can choose pounds or kilograms, depending on whether you're traveling domestically or internationally. The unit, made in China, is about the size of a deck of cards, weighs a little less than a pound and requires two AAA batteries.

Likes and yikes: The big digital readout is great. It's easy to see and nice to have the black-and-lime-colored unit tell you "hello," and then "bye" at the end. But sometimes it takes a few tries to get a weight reading. Plus, within the first 20 minutes of using the unit, we lost the back panel that covers the batteries. The second time we tried to use it, the batteries were dead. So carry some spares.

The 411: $24.85; available from Balanzza, (305) 424-5022, www.balanzza.com; or from Magellan's, (800) 962-4943, www.magellans.com.

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PULLING ITS OWN WEIGHT

First look: This scale brings its luggage with it. The 25- and 28-inch Pullman bags that are part of the new Solutions luggage line from Ricardo of Beverly Hills include a built-in digital scale. Press a button and the scale tells you how much the bag weighs. The luggage line comes in sage, a rusty orange or black. We tested a 25-inch bag, which weighed in, empty, at 10.6 pounds. Special touches: A coated fabric helps the bag's exterior resist stains; two front pockets and a zipped expansion compartment give travelers lots of space.

Likes and yikes: You don't have to worry about forgetting to pack your scale, and you can adjust the luggage weight while you pack. The scale includes measurements in pounds and kilos, which helps on an international trip. Downside: The luggage doesn't have a few of the niceties of high-end baggage, such as TSA-approved locks.

The 411: The luggage company is ramping up production on this new, lighter version of Solutions, which is made in China; it will be available in most major department stores in early September. $150 to $300. Info: (800) 724-7496, www.ricardobeverlyhills.com.

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