7 More High-Tech Attention-Getters For 2013 (So Far)

More 2013 Tech

Earlier this week, the CRN Test Center brought you 7 high-tech attention getters to take you into the fall buying season. You liked them so much that we thought we'd bring you seven more. So here are seven more products that caught our attention and should catch that of your customers as well.

Sennheiser Bluetooth Headset

Taking a step closer to unified communications is the Presence UC ML Bluetooth 4.0 headset from Sennheiser. The German audio master includes with its headset a dongle for Microsoft Lync that seamlessly transfers the headset connection from a mobile phone to and from the office computer's softphone. Presence delivers incredible sound, provided it's not too far from the host device. Sennheiser claims a 25-meter range, but our test MacBook Pro delivered far less. The headset contains three mics for optimizing sound quality in noisy or windy environments. The Presence is about average size, and easily hangs on either side from its ear hook. Also included are small, medium and large ear adapters for going commando-style. Spoken status messages for power, pairing and remaining talk time are a nice touch. We especially like the sureness of a sliding power control (with embedded boom mic), but did accidentally it power-off a few times while getting used to the other controls. The $199 kit includes a rigid carrying case with room for the headset with ear hook, dongle and the included microUSB charging cable. Talk time is rated about eight to 10 hours.

Seagate Central

Hard drive maker Seagate has come up with some clever ways to package its drives. One of its latest is Seagate Central, a NAS file-sharing and backup device that specializes in media streaming and accessibility from anywhere. We've seen quite a few NAS devices, none of which were easier than Seagate Central to set up and start using. After plugging in the included Ethernet cable to a DHCP-enabled network, it becomes visible to Mac and Windows PCs to begin storing or backing up files and streaming media. Users can be added, but no administration is required to get started. It's compatible with Apple's Time Machine and AirPlay protocols for Mac OS X backup and iOS playback and can stream media from Samsung Smart TVs and connected Blu-ray and DLNA devices. After a brief setup, all stored content is accessible locally as a shared drive or server or through a browser or free smartphone app from elsewhere. Seagate Center comes in 2-, 3- and 4-TB capacities starting at about $135 street.

Waterproof iPhone 5 Case

Dropped an iPhone 5 on a concrete floor? Accidentally took it for a swim? These certain death scenarios die along with the Survivor + Catalyst Waterproof Case from Griffin. This surprisingly slender case for Apple iPhone 5 takes a drop from 6 feet and a 10-foot water plunge without blinking. Its front and polycarbonate rear panel and frame split in two, pulled apart by gently tugging on the clips that otherwise press the two halves toward a silicon perimeter o-ring. Volume and mute controls work are accessible through the case, as is the touch screen with a bit more force than usual. A screw-in adapter provides a waterproof connection to the iPhone's headphone jack, and there's a plug for the charge port. When tested with the iPod 5, the Survivor case worked well enough but lines up incorrectly with volume controls. Touch operations also worked better without an on-device screen protector. The Survivor waterproof case for iPhone 5 measures about 5.3 inches long, 2.7 inches wide and just over a half-inch thick. The $69 list price includes a nylon wrist strap, detailed instruction book and one-year warranty.

Scosche boltBOX And microBOX

When the rest of the world is tied up in knots, keep a handle on cable management with boltBOX and microBOX, a pair of retractable charger and sync cables Scosche released in early August. The 30-year-old gadget maker is up on the times with the connectors for Lightning, Apple's newest all-digital plug, and for the microUSB cable end found on most other devices today. Both use slim-tipped connectors on the device end to fit most cases, and the retractable cable stretches in two directions and locks at any length up to 3 feet. When retracted, connectors tuck away inside the box and are held in place magnetically. At $25, the boltBOX seems a bit pricey to be an impulse item, but six colors to suit any wardrobe will help. The Android-style box costs just $15, but comes only in black or red. Why no alien green?

High-Tech Laptop Case

Who says that high-tech can't go into laptop cases? Apparently designed with gamers in mind, Altego's claim to fame is a magnetic locking mechanism that snaps easily into place with one hand while leaving the other hand free to hold a phone, work a game controller or hang on to an escalator railing. We looked at the Altego Polygon Sunfire Series 15-inch Laptop Messenger, which we thought was also well suited for the mobile executive on the run. This tough nylon case is fitted with a laptop compartment that looks like it could survive a train wreck. It's surrounded on all sides by thick, rugged foam, and the inside is reinforced with a soft, quilted fabric. With armor like that, we were surprised to find a bottom that's relatively free of padding, leaving a bagged laptop susceptible to accidental jarring if the case happened to be dropped straight down. There's a large, soft pouch inside that's well suited for dropping in a small tablet. Zippers are strong and operate easily with one hand. An adjustable, seat-belt grade shoulder strap has a thick removable shoulder pad. Retail price: $79.

Griffin PowerDock 5

Who has just one battery-operated device these days? Between tablets, smartphones, iPods and other mobile gadgets, lots of businesses and families need to maintain a charge on three, four maybe even five devices. And who can be bothered with all those power blocks and tangles of wires and cables around the outlet strip? For these problems, the Griffin PowerDock 5 is the perfect solution. It provides five charging bays, each with its own 5-volt, 2.1 amp power supply delivered through a standard USB port. The dock itself provides a tidy place to stand devices, with or without their respective cases, as they charge using cables originally included with the device. A single AC adapter (included) is all that's needed to charge up to five devices and keep the outlet strip clear. There's even a place to wrap any extra slack from the power cord to keep it out of sight. The $99 device made its debut at CES last January and works with iPad, iPhone and iPod, as well as Kindle and most Android devices.

Laptop Heat Shield

Concerns about brain cancer from cell phone use may have subsided, but new worries about the effects of laptop-related heat and radiation on other parts of the body are rising. To the rescue is DefenderPad, a rigid, slip-free tray that protects the lower body from heat and electromagnetic radiation generated by laptops. According to claims, the pad absorbs, diverts or deflects the extremely low-frequency radiation emitted by computer processors, memory and hard drives, as well as the higher-frequency emissions of wireless radios in laptops and tablets such as those for Wi-Fi and cellular networks. Available in black, blue or pink, DefenderPad is about 16 inches long and 11 inches wide, and it can handle laptops with displays as large as 17 inches. It weighs slightly more than 2 pounds and is just a quarter-inch thick, far less unwieldy than many of the lap tables and cooling units out there. DefenderPad lists for $89.

In case you missed it, be sure to check out the other 7 high-tech attention-getters we covered this week.