It’s supposed to be warming up – and no we’re not talking about climate change – and some of the gadgets and gewgaws we’ve had on ice for a few months are beginning to thaw out. So let’s take a look:
Here Comes the Sun – Nox Music Smart Sleep Light provides soothing sounds and red-tinted light said to help you fall asleep easier, then in the morning it simulates sunlight to wake you up to other soft sounds. Can also be a Bluetooth speaker for your phone, provide a charge from a USB port, and set the light mood with a wave of your hand. And there’s an app to track your sleep and sensors to measure your bedroom environment. Buy on Amazon for $119.
Store More – OWC Mercury Elite Pro is an external drive with 2TB of space plus a USB 3 port to daisy chain another drive. Works with Windows and Mac to store or backup important files on the fast drive. Other models have 3TB of space and additional ports. Under $170 at B&H Photo.
Pint-Sized Powerhouse – Mi Power Bank Pro. It’s hard to get excited about another power bank, but this device from Xiaomi is a standout in both design and performance. It is an ultra-thin, portable charging device designed with a sleek and durable aluminum casing that keeps it protected for on-the-go consumers. It puts out 10,000 mAh and will charge an iPhone 8, for instance, up to four times. It has USB type C connectivity. The only drawback is that it only has a single standard USB output. Mi Power Bank Pro offers two-way fast charging that intelligently adjusts up to 18W, allowing it to charge standard devices 40% faster when compared to most 5V/2A power banks. Available from Amazon for$23,99
Not A Little Box – Halos CatDrive plugs into your router with an ethernet cable and becomes 1 TB of “cloud storage” for all your devices from laptops to smartphones. Share those files with anyone on the Internet by creating “Share Circles” for family, friends or work colleagues. There’s a CATDrive app for Android & iOS. $99 direct in black or white.
Carry On Storage – SanDisk Cruzer Dial is a 16 to 128 GB USB flash drive for reliable and portable storage. It can also create a private, encrypted folder so your files are safe from snoops even if you misplace the drive. The “dial” part is how you turn a little wheel to unhide/hide the USB 2 plug. Available direct for $20 to $60 depending on storage size, or on Amazon.
Read Me – GoPro Quick Key MicroSD Card Reader is what you’ll need for your iPhone or iPad because Apple refuses to include an SD card reader, as many Androids have. This little device plugs into the Lightning adapter and a microSD card slips into it. Comes with its own case and carabiner type clip so you don’t lose it. $29.99 direct, or on Amazon.
Find Your Keys – Wistiki By Stark is a little device you attach to your keyring, or anything you think you might lose track of, and using an app on your phone, make it ring. Or if you misplace the phone but have the keys, press the Wistiki and your phone rings. The app even has a map to show where you left your Wistiki device. Also made for pet collars and wallets. “Voila” – the key finder – less than $30 at Amazon.
Watch My Stuff – GuardPeanut is a small Bluetooth sensor that you attach to something you want to keep safe: luggage, a laptop, a bicycle, anything you can hang or stick the little device on – it’s about 1-inch wide and 2-inches long. One long press of the button arms it and if the object it’s attached to moves, it will sound an alarm and alert the app on your phone as long as you’re within 100 feet or so. You can make the alarm silent if you wish. No GPS but you can have the GuardPeanut ring as you search for your stuff. $29 direct for one, $99 for a 4-pack.
Now Hear This – ToughTested Neckband Bluetooth Headset goes around your neck and as the name says connects Bluetooth to your phone for both music listening and two-way talk. Has a heavy-duty rubberized design to resist water, sweat and dust. Besides the plug-in earbuds, there are built-in speakers when that’s appropriate. The mic is 10X noise canceling. $79.99 direct.
Now Hear This Too – Plantronics BackBeat FIT 305 Wireless Earbuds are designed to be water & sweatproof for wearing during workouts – or just a hot or rainy day. They connect Bluetooth to your phone and are said to stay powered for up to 6 hours on a charge. The tips are designed for a snug fit and 3 sizes come in the box, along with a charging cable and pouch. $79.99 direct.
Stand Up – Fast Charge is the name and what it does, a fast charging stand for phones that can be charged wirelessly, such as certain Samsung & LG models. The company also makes fast wireless charging pads for the iPhone 8 or X. Buy direct or on Amazon – $19.99 for just the stand or $29.99 with a quick charger added.
Power Trip – Kensington International Power Adapter is a single unit adapter for use when traveling. No more carrying around all those weird plugs because the most common ones slide out of the adapter itself to connect in more than 200 countries. The adapter also has two USB charging ports built in for recharging phones or other devices. The grounded three-prong model is $49.99 at Amazon.
They’ve Got You Covered – Mikol Marble iPhone Cases are just that, cases for iPhone 6 through X with a thin slice of genuine, certified marble on the back. Surprisingly lightweight, at least the review model we got. Various cases are available direct from $60 to $700, depending of course on the marble chosen. The Terrazzo Black Storm model in the photo is among the least expensive.
You Need Protection – Urban Armor Gear Phone Cases are made for most types and models of smartphones, from Apple to Samsung and many brands in between. The cases vary too, with some having doors that close over the screen in front, and the Trooper model for iPhones – pictured here – opens in the back to hold up to four credit, bank or ID cards. All models said to be drop-tested to military spec for impact resistance. Prices range from $20 on up depending on phone & case model, either direct or from Amazon.
No Peeking – Silent Pocket Full-Shielding Sleeve is one of many Faraday cage devices this company sells to block all radio signals from reaching your phone, tablet, laptop, even credit cards. This model is a leather sleeve that will hold most smartphones and block cell, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, RFID & other signals to and from it, for complete radio silence. About $100 for the medium size sleeve, more for larger. Buy direct or from Amazon. They also have wallets to protect your credit cards, and sleeves to keep your phone’s radiation away from you.
AV Club – Vidbox Video Conversion Suite is an all-in-one solution for converting older analog video from a camera or VHS player to a digital format suitable for computers, phones or sharing on the web. You plug the video and audio outputs from your device into the Vidbox using supplied RCA connectors, and the Vidbox outputs the signal by USB 2 or 3 to your PC or Mac, where the supplied software finishes the job. Supports MOV, MPEG1, MPEG2, WMV, MP4 and NTSC, SECAM and PAL video formats. $89.99 direct.
Lock It Up Part 1 – GateKeeper is a Bluetooth “lock & key” that will keep any computer locked if you simply walk away from it. A USB “lock” is inserted and the “key” is configured with an app you download. Walk away & the computer locks; come back & it unlocks – or you can configure it so you have to tap the “lock” with the key fob, or require a PIN as well as the key fob. Should someone pull out the USB “lock” the computer stays locked until manually logged on. $56 on Amazon.
Lock It Up Part 2 – Kensington MicroSaver 2.0 is a smaller sized but just as strong laptop cable lock, requiring a specific key to release it. The 6-foot cable is carbon steel to resist cutting & secures the laptop to a desk or table. The lock head attaches to the Kensington Security Slot built into most laptops. $39.99 on Amazon.
Lock It Up Part 3 – TouchLock is a small (2-inch) lock designed to secure personal items such as a laptop bag or briefcase and opens with your fingerprint – or any 19 others you set up. Holds a charge for up to a year, then can be recharged with micro-USB port. Can be unlocked with a downloadable app and pin code, if necessary. $39.99 direct.
Get To The Point – The Logitech Spotlight Presentation Remote is one of the sleekest and versatile pointing devices we’ve seen to use in front of an audience – or even your own computer. Among its features: advanced wireless presentation remote goes beyond laser pointing so you can interact with content on the room screen; track presentation time and set vibration alerts to stay in command until your final slide; navigate your slides without looking down using intuitive forward and back buttons. Universal compatibility on most devices, operating systems, and leading presentation software. Price is $130 at Logitech, $115 at Amazon.com