10 Cool New Devices For Summer4:00 PM EST Fri. Aug. 17, 2012
As the dog days of summer are upon us, we thought it would be a good time to beat the heat with some cool gadgets the CRN Test Center has been looking at. Warm weather means more outdoor fun. Here's a look at 10 gadgets that can help make summer more exciting for you and your customers. And if that's not enough, take a look at last year's 25 Gadgets of Summer.
Nothing says user-friendly better than a device that greets you. Add water resistance and you've got a very cool device for summer. The iShower from iShower Inc. is a splash-proof Bluetooth speaker system that not only delivers high-quality sound from any Bluetooth audio-streaming device but also has the ability to pause, skip forward and back, and control volume. Intuitive controls simplifies pairing with as many as five Android, iPad or iPhone devices or computers from as far away as 200 feet. A handsome blue LED salutes when powering up or down, displays setup when needed and otherwise shows the time. The iShower lists for $99 with kickstand and handle, wall mount and three AA batteries, which provide about 15 hours of sound.
Don't let a child sit on this one; it's for your laptop. The USB-powered Cryo V60 from NZXT keeps laptops, netbooks, tablets and other flat portables cool thanks to two whisper-quiet 75-mm fans with variable speed control. The fans draw warm air from a device's underside through the large center hole, sending it out the angled exhaust port that's nearly the width of the rear panel. A sturdy plunger switch controls fan on/off state. An included USB cable powers the unit, and it has a front LED and two extra ports (for power only, not data). The V60 works from any available USB port or AC/DC adapter (not included) and supports systems as wide as 16 inches. Rubber feet keep it all in place. $32.99 list.
While basking in the summer sun, let the Zyxel Cloud-enabled IP Camera keep an eye on the store. Zyxel model IPC4605N works day and night to stream live images at up to 720p with h.264 encoding through any Wi-Fi 802.11n access point to its secured website. The camera can be remotely panned and tilted using any Android device, iPad or iPhone, or from a Flash-enabled browser running on Linux, Mac OS X of Windows. Likewise, high-definition and infrared images can be monitored the same way. Lists for $269.
More screen real estate leads to better productivity, which allows more time for the beach. For laptop users tired of being stuck with a single external monitor, Matrox offers Matrox Dualhead2Go, an adapter that lets laptops drive not one but two monitors from a single digital output port. It also works with desktops. The Digital SE edition for Windows accepts the output from the system's DisplayPort and creates a desktop of 3,840 x 1,200, which is double that of the standard 1,920 x 1,200, spread across two monitors from the existing GPU. The Digital Mac Edition drives two DVI monitors from the Mini-DisplayPort or Thunderbolt port of so-equipped Macs.
With its U.S. debut of the Galaxy Note 10.1 this week, Samsung has made a move to bring back pen computing, believing it holds the key to content creation on tablets. But, cooler than the Note's default S Pen, which gets its power wirelessly from the screen, Samsung also offers the BT S Pen, a Bluetooth 3.0 version of the pressure-sensitive stylus that doubles as a wireless headset. That's right. With three hours of talk time and 130 hours of standby, the BT S Pen stands ready to fulfill its note-taking and sketching duties and take your phone calls too.
For the one-the-go pro who's getting more computer facetime than a presidential candidate, a solid headset is simply a must. Fitting the bill nicely is Logitech's BH320 Stereo Earbuds for Business. This solid piece of hardware installed quickly on out test Macs and Windows PCs, and within seconds it was pumping high-quality sound to the earphones, though perhaps not as loudly as we might have liked. The built-in volume and call controls also worked right out of the box with all media players we tested, and the three-way controller felt sturdy. The $91.70 list price includes a storage pouch.
The HTC Titan II is aptly named. Its 4.7-inch screen is as big as it is bright, and its camera is bigger still. In fact, at a whopping 16 megapixels, the Titan II currently holds the title as the most powerful smartphone camera around. And thanks to its 4G LTE network radio, it's big in terms of bandwidth too. If only there were more apps in Microsoft's Windows Phone App Store. Still, the 5 x 3-inch (give or take) Titan II is practically all screen, its 800 x 480 pixels stretch from edge-to-edge except for the its curved lower section, which is home to the dedicated backlit Windows Phone function keys. Thanks to its metal case, the Titan II and its single-core 1.5GHz processor remain cool and comfortable to the touch. Its curved edges fit nicely in the hand and incorporate a power button, up/down volume, microUSB port, headphone jack and a dedicated camera key. Titan II also packs 16 GB of storage, Wi-Fi, GPS, a 1.3-MP front camera and Bluetooth 2.1, and it is clearly among the coolest devices of the summer.
Particularly during hot summer months, the less time spent crawling through small spaces and snaking power cables the better. For installations of IP-based telephony, Wi-Fi access points, video surveillance, kiosks, thin clients and other embedded systems, power over Ethernet eliminates the need for power cables for each network device and provides a simplicity that's hard to beat. And in terms of price and feature set, it's hard to beat StarTech's IES8100POE 8-port Power Over Ethernet Switch. And for $219 list, StarTech delivers an 802.3af-compliant switch with a full 15.4 watts of power to all eight of its 10/100 Ethernet ports, making it suitable as power sourcing equipment, and it's enclosed in a rugged metal cabinet for durability.
High-quality, remotely controllable video conferencing systems don't have to cost thousands. At $250 list, the ConferenceCam BCC950 from Logitech delivers video quality that must be seen to be believed. Perfect for small groups of two or three, the ConferenceCam and its 1,920 x 1,080 pixel camera with 30-fps capture capability works with office lighting. With its full-duplex speakerphone, it can supplement busy video conference rooms and deliver an experience that's light-years ahead of the average webcam. The ConferenceCam uses UVC H.264 protocol and works with major video conferencing apps, including Adobe Connect, FaceTime, GoToMeeting, Microsoft Lync, Skype and WebEx on Mac OS X and Windows; no additional software is required. Bring one to your next pool party for an immersive experience.
To battle the summer heat, it's sometimes helpful to reduce the number of peripherals in the office to a minimum. While you're at it, you can keep the connected systems secure from hackers with the ATEN CS1184 4-Port USB DVI Dual-Link Secure KVM Switch. With a name that long, it will fit right in with its intended target customer: The government. Secure KVMs are widely desired by military and defense departments, intelligence, law enforcement agencies, financial institutions and any organization for which security is paramount. The $589-list CS1184 is NIAP-certified to the common criteria’s EAL2+ certification. With research showing that most hackers come from within the target's own organization, it's better to be safe than sorry.
If you have a few more minutes, take a walk down memory lane with last year's 25 Tech Gadgets for the Summer.