Cool Gadgets June 2008
Are you tired of fuzzy, ill-composed photos of yourself in exotic locales; a stranger's sweaty mitts fogging your prized 12-Megapixel point-and-shoot camera? It's hard to explain fill-flash on the other side of the world, since you blew your Berlitz dollars on rising airfare, and your version of "arm's length" won't get you into the NBA. Quickpod feels your pain and wants to help. Extend your reach to 18.5", easily including yourself and a large slice of the scenery in the shot. This featherweight (3.5 oz) pod folds down to a compact 7.5", and clips to a belt. Mount camera, extend pod, and shoot. Done.
The game is on and you're frantically clawing through the "basket-o'-remotes," or burrowing into the couch like a dog after a bone, while the neighbors roar about the score and your big-screen's still blank. This is not the good life! What is good is controlling up to 15 components with Logitech's Harmony 1000 Universal Remote. No more stabbing at the screen like a primate. This remote is "activity-based," meaning that you touch an icon on the 3.5" color screen and it does what you tell it, like "watch DVD" or "listen to radio," instantly activating all the components needed to make that happen. It supports 5000 brands, sets up on the computer, and has rechargeable batteries. Get it and be controlling—in a good way.
The Neuros OSD Multimedia Hub is a sandwich-size A/V component that records video from any source and converts it into selectable MPEG-4 formats meant for viewing on a range of screen sizes. There are slots for saving to various types of memory cards or you can use a USB-attached storage device including iPods, PSPs, and Smartphones. An IR blaster/timer enables unattended recordings. The OSD is also a media receiver. Its Ethernet port streams music, photos, and videos from a networked PC and puts YouTube on your TV.
Why take up space with a one-trick picture frame when it can do so much more? The Ality PF-T80R Digital Picture Frame is an 8-inch display (800 x 600 pixels) that can be scheduled to show images from internal memory or popular memory cards. A sensor automatically corrects the orientation of images that would otherwise appear sideways. Compatible with music and video, the Ality embeds stereo speakers. A wireless remote is included. There's an onboard clock and calendar, and you can use the frame as a mirror, too.
Holding the camera is sometimes the last thing you want to be doing. But lugging a tripod along or finding a flat surface upon which to stand it up aren't always practical. Enter the Joby Gorillapod, a mini-tripod and grip for point and shoot cameras. Weighing only 1.6 oz, the Gorillapod's bendable legs can be positioned on rough terrain or anchored to a chain link fence. It supports cameras or camcorders weighing up to 12.5 oz. Other models are available for larger loads.
For the gadget-crazy crowd, running out of power is akin to running out of oxygen. That's why anyone with pockets should consider packing the Powerstick from Ecosol Solar Technologies. The lithium polymer battery charges in about 90 minutes. Then, the 4-inch stick with fuel gauge can be connected to a variety of portable devices including cell phones, Bluetooth headsets, cameras, media players, and personal digital assistants. What makes the Powerstick so compatible is the inclusion of nine adapters including mini-USB.
If you just want to get your entertainment into an iPod or other portable gear, the iRecord Personal Media Recorder from Streaming Networks does the job. The iRecord box links an audio or video source such as a CD player, DVD player, VCR, or camcorder and a target storage device (like a Sony PSP) and converts the content to formats playable on the portable. It encodes video in the H.264 format at QVGA (320 x 240) resolution and music as MP3 (up to 320 kbps) or AAC files. It's a great way to move your analog media directly to a personal media player.
The Sanyo Xacti E1 Waterproof SD Memory Card Camcorder lets you record at depths up to 5-feet without fear of damaging the camera. The included 4GB card stores up to 5 hours of video. The 8 oz. camera offers a quick start-up time of 1.7 seconds, 5x optical zoom, and a 2.5-inch LCD. Whether you're in the pool playing volleyball, on the lake waterskiing, on the slopes skiing, or by the bassinet washing an infant, the Xacti E1 (available in blue or white) preserves your wettest adventures.
When your camera is out of memory, you're done taking pictures. Unless, of course, you have a portable card reader like the Sanho 40GB HyperDrive Colorspace. Compatible with all popular card types, the HyperDrive transfers a gigabyte of pictures in less than a minute. Then, you can view JPEG and RAW images on the 2.2" color LCD. The HyperDrive's internal Li-Ion battery is recharged by an AC adapter, USB cable, or car charger – all included. Larger capacity models are also available.
The HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) port on your HDTV set has become the most popular place to dock all the newest A/V components including DVD players, Blu-ray Disc players, DVRs, cable or satellite receivers, game consoles, even the latest computers and camcorders. If you're tired reaching behind your TV to unplug one device in order to accommodate another, consider the Sima VS-H21 HDMI Video Switcher. It turns one HDMI input into two, and it boosts the signal for long cable runs.
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