We’ve all been there: You’re away from home, your iPhone is dead, and you really need to call someone. Or maybe you just hopped on the bus, and the only empty seat is next to that lady who talks to everyone—and your iPod just ran out of juice. Kensington’s battery packs can come to your rescue, recharging a dead iPhone or iPod without the need for a really, really long extension cord.
Getting music from your iPod to your ears is usually easy—use headphones or one of the kajillion iPod speaker docks littering the countryside. But the question of how to get music out of your iPod and into your car stereo can be a bit more vexing. A direct, wired connection sounds the best, but if you don’t have a built-in iPod connector, or a fancy stereo with a line-in jack on the front, your options are limited to expensive aftermarket iPod-friendly stereos or yanking your current stereo out of the dashboard to install a cable yourself.
Considering the target market for digital picture frames, they should be about as painless to set up as a new toaster. Except for a few slightly awkward experiences with the onscreen menu, setting up and using the Portable USA PU-10WE 10.4-inch wireless digital picture frame was almost as easy as toasting bread. Of course, we got much more lasting enjoyment from the never-ending slide show of our favorite photos displayed on the PU-10WE’s bright, sharp display than we ever could have from a slice of toasted rye. Transferring images from our MacBook Pro to the frame’s 1GB onboard memory via Bluetooth was quick and easy. You can also insert almost any type of flash memory card or connect the frame to your Mac with the included USB cable and transfer photos that way.
You might not think taking your expensive portable technology into rugged terrain is a good idea, but there’s no reason to use the excuse that your MacBook or iPod are too delicate to take outside as to eschew the great outdoors—or an opportunity to exercise and breathe fresh air. With the proper gear, your tunes and your data can venture outside with you and go back inside no worse for the wear.
Our gadgets are useless when the batteries fade or we misplace their charging cables. Bluelounge’s Sanctuary elegantly solves both problems, charging and storing your electronic devices. The rounded, Plexiglas box conceals a dozen power tentacles to juice up mobile phones, PDAs, iPods, and more. But the Sanctuary is a tease for hard-core gadgeteers; its size only accommodates a few devices.
We’re keyboard snobs, and writely so. (Ouch!) If you are too, and don’t like your laptop’s keys or wish you had a fully extended key layout you could take with you anywhere, consider the Folding Keyboard. The device lives up to its name, folding over itself into a thin package that’s not much longer than a typical paperback. While this is easily one of the best solutions we’ve found for road warriors who need an external keyboard, a handful of minor problems detract from an otherwise nimble product.
Your Mac is already great at Web surfing, but the ATI TV Wonder HD 650 lets it surf TV channels too. If you have a fast system, the USB TV tuner feeds fluid broadcasts from analog and digital over-the-air channels, cable TV, or another source. The device even buffers live TV and saves shows like a standalone digital video recorder. But even with a high-end computer, the included software sometimes disappoints—and it has a confusing interface. Plus, the tuner can bog down a midrange Mac, slowing down all other apps in order to keep the video smooth.
Universal remote brings harmony to your living room.
How many remotes does it take to watch TV? It sounds like the setup for a cruel joke about our entertainment system. Just to watch a television show, we have separate remotes for the TV, TiVo, audio receiver, and HDMI switch. The universal Harmony One is nearly perfect to replace these and other controllers, combining all your devices into one sleek, adaptable remote.
Computers can’t understand the analog waves that make up old VHS tapes and pre-DV camcorder videos. These curvy patterns contradict the binary world of “off” or “on,” so you need to digitize those sources before your Mac can “see” the picture. Pinnacle’s Video Capture for Mac is a fin-shaped box that handles this job—and little else. Plug in an analog video source, and the unit translates it into a 640-x-480-pixel MPEG-4 file your Mac can recognize. It works, but armchair archivists will immediately wish it had a few more features beyond its single trick.