25 Tech Gadgets For The Summer10:26 AM EST Fri. May. 27, 2011
Ahhh, summer. Sunshine and warm gentle breezes, long days on the beach, the smell of barbecued hamburgers in the air. And tech gadgets. Lots and lots of gadgets. Warm weather means more time outdoors.
Here's a look at 25 tech gadgets that can make summer more fun and at the same time help boost your bottom line.
If summer for you means golf, there's technology that its makers claim can improve your game regardless of handicap. Sports analysis and motion expert Senosolutions recently landed deals with 20 golf schools and golf pros to use SensoGlove, "the world's first digital golf glove" to train golfers and help improve their game, according to company claims. By analyzing the golfer's grip at a rate of 80 time a second, SelsoGlove provides feedback in real-time to help avoid the "death grip" that sends so many balls into the rough. $89 list.
Here's a twist on the conventional MP3 player that we thought was worthy of note. Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Genius in late January began shipping a line of rechargeable, amplified speakers that at the high end can play MP3 and WMA audio files right from a USB stick, or can amplify sound from an iPod, iPad, smartphone, laptop or other media player. A 1.5-inch speaker puts out two watts of sound, powered by a lithium ion battery that lasts up to eight hours and recharges in less than two. They also can connect to each other to form speaker chains. $25-45 list.
Invented by a rocket scientist that was unsatisfied with portable speakers available to him, the FoxL speakers from Sound Matters will surprise you with their fidelity. If you thought that great sound couldn't come from a small package, let alone through Bluetooth, the FoxL Personal Audiophile Loudspeaker delivers what we believe to be a portable iPod speaker that's as close to perfect as you can get. Surprisingly loud and responsive stereo speakers mounted in a rugged, black metal enclosure, FoxL also accepts audio from USB and 3.5mm jack, which delivers the best sound with the least distortion. The unit operates on a built-in Lithium Ion battery that's rechargeable via USB or the provided 5-volt AC/DC power adapter. $199 list with Bluetooth; $169 without.
Samsung's solid state hard drive uses just a fraction of the power of spinning storage, helping you beat the heat of summer. And its fast performance can give you more time for fun in the sun. Sangung's 470 Series SSD feature Samsung's latest 30nm multi-level cell (MLC) storage architecture and are rated for read operations to perform at 250MB/s. For write operations, the higher-capacity drives are rated at 220MB/s, and the 64GB drive is supposed to deliver 170GB/s. The 2.5-inch SATA II SSD drives are available in 64GB, 128GB and 256GB models and respectively list for $129, $259, and $519.
Neither rain, nor fire, nor drop from height, nor deep immersion in noxious fluids, shall keep ioSafe from spinning 'round, and retrieving your customer's data. While that's not the official slogan of ioSafe, maker of disaster proof storage hardware, it would be a good start, and could include three-day submersion in salt water, crush resistance of up to 5000 pounds and continuous pounding of blowing sand and dust, icing and exposure to UV rays. List prices start at $150 for 250GB, and $230 for 1TB, including repair/replacement warranty and recovery of lost data. USB 3.0 interface, fully backward compatible.
Why go to the office when the office can come to you? With Samsung's Nexus S smart phone, mobile professionals can leverage the Android operating system to gain access to email, documents, media, virtual systems and virtually anything they need right from the comfort of its four-inch screen. With Android 2.3, the versio that finally gets most things right, the experience is intuitive enough for smooth sailing from day one. Around $529 without a plan.
With Slingbox, people have been watching their favorite TV shows over the internet for years. The company that pioneered desktop IP-based television viewing in 2004 also offers players for BlackBerry, iPhone, PalmOS/WebOS, Symbian, Windows Mobile, and most recently for Android. The client is available from the Android Market and works well over WiFi and 3G networks. List $29.99.
If spring is the time for clean-up, perhaps summer can be the time to check your systems for viruses. Virus testing and removal for Windows PCs could become as easy as saying "ahhh" thanks to Vaccine USB, a anti-virus appliance from Hagiwara Sys-Com. The slender USB stick launches a McAfee virus scan (and optionally repairs) any machine running 32-bit Windows XP, 2000, Vista, or Windows 7; 64-bit Windows is supported through WoW64. The stick runs Windows XP Embedded and the company's virtual CD software, which deploys a locked volume from which the virus software executes. $499 list includes one year of software and virus definition updates. Annual updates cost $299.
Samsung has finally solved the problem of the obsolete docking station. In May the company began shipping Central Station, a universal docking station that wirelessly connects any Windows laptop to a high resolution display, Ethernet, USB and audio. Central Station is aimed initially at consumers looking for the simplicity of a single point of connection for printers, scanners, devices in need of recharging and for consumption of 1080p content. B2B versions are planned for June, and a Mac OS X version will ship later this year. $449 list includes and an integrated 23-inch LCD display and a required USB dongle.
There's more to GammaTech's DuraBook durable laptop computers than ruggedness and shock protection. There's also the ability to repel sand. And what better place to test that military standard of environmental protection than at your local ocean shore line? Available with a glare resistant screen that can be easily viewed in bright sunlight, a DuraBook U12C with an Intel Core i5 (U560) dual-core 1.33 GHz processor, 256GB SSD, 64-bit version of Windows 7 Professional and 4GB of DDR3 memory lists for $1921.
Sony this week announced updates to its VAIO F Series multimedia laptops and VAIO S Series general purpose line, including price reductions and major enhancements to features and functions. Gamers and multimedia enthusiasts will thrill at updates to Sony's F Series laptops, which starts at $1100 and is available with a 16.4-inch 1920 x 1080 2D screen driven by Intel on-board HD graphics or NVIDIA GeForce GT450M or G250M chips. S Series laptops are now lighter, faster and more stealthy. The 13.3-inch portables will get faster Intel Core i5 and i7 processors and will offer a AMD Radeon 6630 graphics controller with 1GB of dedicated video memory. F-Series pricing starts at $1100, S-Series at $1370.
Dell in February unveiled the Latitude E6520 and Latitude E6320, two durable and well-performing Sandy Bridge-based machines wrapped in rugged magnesium casing and equipped with Dell's motherboard-based Free Fall Sensor technology protecting hard drive data. The Latitude E6520 offers a 15.6-inch screen (vs. 13.3-inch) with native resolution up to 1920 x 1080 (vs. 1366 x 768) with optional multi-touch (vs. none) driven by an optional NVidia NVS 4200M discrete graphics adapter (vs. none). The higher-end machine also delivers four USB 2.0 ports (vs. two), a 54mm ExpressCard slot (vs. 34mm) and FireWire 1394 (vs. none). Both include dock connectors. The Latitude E6520 starts at $736, and the Latitude E6320 starts at $678Both ship with a three-year basic hardware service warranty.
After driving around with Kensington's Windshield/Vent Car Mount for Smartphones for about a month, you'll never want to drive without it. Promote safe, hands-free cell-phone communication--required by law in some states--and keep your customers safe and happy this summer so the keep coming back for years to come. Also available in iPhone-specific models, the universal model holds snugly to the windshield and to devices up to 2.75 inches wide and 4.1 inches high, including most devices from HTC, LG, Motorola, Palm, Samsung and RIM. Unlocks easily; pivots to vertical or horizontal orientation. One-foot gooseneck. $29.99 kit includes a vent mount.
Summertime means more people on the go and more devices to recharge. Save space on the outlet or strip with Kensington's Wall Pack Duo, which provides two five-volt, 2.1-amp USB charging ports for twice the charging capability using half the space. Designed with Apple devices in mind, the unit includes a USB charging cable for most iPod, iPad and iPhone models, but will work with any USB cable with a "Standard A" rectangular connector. The included cable also can be used for syncing with a computer Apple devices running iPhone OS 3.0 or later. Lists for $34.99, including an iPod cable and two-year warranty.
About the size of a deck of cards, the Zyxel MWR211 Mobile Wireless Router will deal out more fun than a summer blackjack tournament. For hard-core business travellers, vacationers and consumers for whom Internet access is simply not negotiable, the MWR211 turns your 3G connection into a wireless N WiFi (2.4 GHz) hotspot for up to two hours using its internal Li-Ion battery. Zyxel claims that the MWR211 is "3G carrier agnostic," and provides an extensive list of compatible modems on its web site. $115 list includes an Ethernet cable, five-volt AC/DV adapter and documentation CD.
When the meeting's over and it's time to take a break, take this pint-sized wireless keyboard with built-in trackball with you. With overall dimensions of 11.5 by four inches, the KB531RT from AZiO is about a quarter the size of a standard keyboard. The key layout itself measures about 8 inches by three inches, a bit cramped for everyday typing, but adequate for entering log ins or a short URL. And its wide edges make it comfortable to hold with two hands for mousing. Runs on two AAA alkaline batteries, included, or pop in a pair of rechargeable NiMH batteries and recharge with the included USB cable. Works with Windows and Mac OS X; 30-foot range. $69.99 list, with USB dongle and lifetime warranty.
With new firmware released earlier this month, D-Link promises a faster browsing experience with its Boxee Box set top box introduced late last year. We did notice inconsistencies in the browser experience, and said so in our review, but on the whole our impression was mostly good. From fool-proof setup and installation to daily use as a local and web-connected media player, the product was solid and performed well. The included two-sided remote is small, but useful with keys well laid out. $199 list.
Referred to in some circles as "the best video card you can buy" is AMD's Radeon HD 6990, truly the state of the art in personal computer graphics today. With not just one, but two DirectX 11-capable GPUs, this bad boy packs 4GB of dedicated GDDR5 memory and can move that memory around at speeds of up to 320GB per second at resolutions up to 2560 x 1600. A dedicated video playback accelerator keeps the MPEG and Flash video action fast and furious, and support for dual-stream 1080p playback and HD3D, Blu-ray 3D and active shutter technology are just the beginning of its full immersion capability. $699 list.
If catering to creativity is more your thing, then the Quadro 2000 from NVIDIA might be just the ticket. It's among a small number of graphics controllers that are certified by Adobe to run its Creative Suite 5.5 at maximum performance. At the heart of CS5.5 is the Adobe Mercury Playback Engine, which taps into the Quadro's Fermi-based GPU to perform its calculations far faster than would be possible using a system CPU. With its release in early October, the Quadro 2000 replaced the Quadro FX 1800 for the mid-market PC. The new Quadro’s 192 CUDA processor cores worked together to deliver benchmark scores about twice that of its predecessor. $599 list.
Technically, the RIM PlayBook is just as sound and perhaps even more elegant than Apple’s iPad. RIM's latest device is a magnificent product that could reignite the old flames of its legions of “CrackBerry” devotees. Its fit and finish, look and feel and brilliant 1080p screen and touch keyboard are markedly better than the iPad's. Its size is perfect, at 5.1 inches by 7.6 inches wide, and it’s a few ounces under a pound. While it can’t exactly fit into a jacket pocket like a phone, it’s easier to clasp in your hand than an iPad, and a lightly rubberized casing makes it wonderful to grip. It just feels right. List pricing starts at $449.
ViewSonic was among the first channel-friendly companies to deliver an Android-based tablet to solution providers with the ViewPad 7, a 7-inch tablet built around Android 2.2 that can double as either a smart phone or handheld PC. The device weighs less than 13 ounces, is 7 inches-by-4.5 inches-by a half-inch thick, and is built with a metallic side that makes it look like a big iPhone. Its display is at least as bright as Apple's Retina and delivered extraordinary results in tests of battery life. Street price is around $425 with 600 MB of storage.
Available since January's CES and now with T-Mobile 4G service is the Dell Streak 7 tablet, with its 7-inch WGA touch screen protected by Gorilla Glass, two 1.3 megapixel front and rear-facing cameras, built-in WiFi capability, and support for Adobe Flash. It's built around a 2.2-GHz Nvidia Tegra Dual Core processor and represents a middle path between Apple's 9.7-inch iPad and the original, 5-inch Streak Dell launched last year. The Dell Streak 7 lists for $399, but can be found for as little as $99.99 with a contract.
Protect your electronics from those summer storms with the Tripp Lite BC600SINE, a new 375-watt UPS for Mac OS X, Windows and other operating systems. The shoebox-sized unit delivers 600 volt-amps of sine-wave output in battery or line power modes, and is designed to provide backup power and protection for computer workstations, point-of-sale equipment, small telephone systems, audio/video and other business and residential electronic equipment. Ready to use out of the box, there are no battery connectors to attach, and if the target system is running Mac OS X, there's no software to install. It provides three AC receptacles of battery backed-up power and another three for surge-protection only. List price is $160 including a three year warranty.
Keeping track of one's weight has never looked better. Withings’ scale and app are things of beauty. The digital scale is built with a WiFi antenna; when you step on the scale to get your weight, it transmits that information via WiFi to Withings servers, where it is stored in your account and forwarded to your iPhone app. The app provides a timeline and graphical chart of your weight gain or loss over time and cab even share it automatically with your Google Health account. Now when you crave junk food while dieting, you can literally hold the phone and see why you should stay away. $159 list in black or white.
Perhaps one of the year's most sought after devices will be the ChromeBook, a notebook computer unlike any other ever made. Designed with just enough hardware and know-how to launch a browser and access the internet, Google's dream machine assumes a world in which every living piece of data will only exist on the web, and that the devices people use to access that data will be completely irrelevant. To me initially manufactured by Acer and Samsung, ChromeBooks will run the open source ChromeOS, and will cost between $400 and $500, despite lacking most of the capabilities of the average a laptop computer. General availablity is set for June 15.