iPod Stereo Adapter Cable

May 13, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Cables and Wires, Gadgets 

iPod-RCA-cableI have a problem. In the grand scheme of things, it’s no big whoop, but nonetheless, it’s kind of annoying. You see, fellow music fans, all the good stuff is on my iPod®. Forget about the 200 or so CDs that used to be the life of my stereo. No, I’ve gone and imported all the good songs off those babies, combined them with a few choice iTunes® downloads of things I didn’t yet own, and now a magically eclectic mix of my faves has become the new standard of listening pleasure. Trouble is, I can only enjoy the soundtrack of my life if I wedge a couple of earbuds in, and I prefer to leave that for the gym or a long flight.

This is probably the part where you’re thinking, “Just buy an iPod dock already, you moron.” And now it’s my turn to reply with 3 of the most stubbornly immature words on the planet: “No. Don’t wanna.” You see, I like my stereo. I don’t want to shell out to replace it with an accessory that can only be used with an iPod. One that may even run the risk of sounding tinny or otherwise too small. And so I’ve painted myself into that gym-and-airplane-only corner, just waiting for something better to come along.

Well, it appears that that something has just hit the scene, thanks to the people who understand at Cables to Go®. They’ve created an iPod-to-stereo RCA adapter cable that lets you hook up your favorite Apple companion not only to stereos, but to TVs and home theater receivers as well. iTunes on Surround Sound® – sweet! My favorite part is that the dock connector synchronizes the audio settings of your iPod and whatever other device it’s attached to, so you can raise and lower the music with the stereo or TV’s volume controls.

Sorry, this item has been discontinued.

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Belkin Travel Power Adapter

belkin-travel-power-adapterTulips have sprung, temperatures are rising, and as Summer fast approaches, visions of Historic Route 66 are beginning to dance through the imaginations of red-blooded Americans from sea to shining sea. Who can’t picture themselves behind the wheel of that classic Hollywood road trip shot, the one that looks westward down a two-lane highway that’s empty except for a single top-down convertible winding its way toward a couple of cowboy-movie buttes in the not-too-far-off distance?

Ahhhhh, I can feel the wind undoing the affects of my mega-hold styling products just thinking about it. Road trips aren’t just great for a little nostalgia – they’re also the perfect way to squeeze a little freedom and vacation time out of Summer 2010, even though cash is still tight for many of us. There’s just one little difference between road trips Then and Now: technology. Whereas payphones and postcards were the chief means of communication back in the heyday of ’57 Chevys and themed motor lodges, in this age of Priuses and Hilton HHonors® rewards, we can’t live without cell phones and laptops.

One little problem there: said gadgets require electricity to keep their batteries charged and ready to serve us. And as most of you have probably discovered the hard way at one time or another, electricity is most readily available from wall outlets, of which there is a distinct shortage in automobiles. Sure, some of us have the cigarette-lighter chargers for our cell phones, but car-charging can get pretty tricky for items like laptops and iPods®. How’s a recreational road warrior supposed to cope?

Allow me to recommend the Travel Power Adapter by Belkin. This compact little set is made up of a power adapter that can be customized (via an assortment of included tips) to charge all of your must-have gadgets straight from the 12-volt DC port in your vehicle. This thing can even handle USB-driven electronics like iPods®. Just plug the adapter into your DC port, customize its charger cord with the tip that matches the gadget in need of juice, and you’re set.

What I love is that the travel adapter isn’t limited to use in your car. If you need to charge things overnight in your hotel room, you can just switch out the DC plug for the included AC adapter, and just plug into the wall. Now that’s a travel buddy.

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GoBe Portable Solar Power System

gobe-solar-powerI enjoy nature and a nice hike as much as the next person, but when it comes to taking a load off and getting a good night’s snooze after all that fresh air, I’ve always balked at roughing it in a tent – I prefer to “hotel it.” Don’t get me wrong – I’m not the kind of girl who needs a 5-star resort with full spa services or anything like that. I just like things like electricity, indoor plumbing, clean sheets and a locking door – you know, the kind of things that make one comfortable. Call me crazy, but rocks jutting through the ground tarp and sleeping bag aren’t exactly my idea of lumbar support.

I have to say, though: with regard to the electricity aspect, all of the solar products hitting the market are beginning to make the prospect of bunking in the wilderness a little more palatable. First came solar chargers, which have made it possible to keep your cell phone or iPod juiced up even if you’re miles from the nearest power outlet. But now, things are getting even better, thanks to the GoBe™ solar power system, a portable power source that absorbs sunlight and turns it into enough electricity to power the really good stuff like laptops, electric fans, lights, and maybe even your Magic Bullet blender (margarita or fresh salsa, anyone?).

The GoBe™ system is made up of a briefcase (the solar panel unit) and a hub (the battery that you actually plug into). The briefcase soaks up sunlight, converts it into energy, and then sends it via cable to the hub for storage. When you need power, you just plug into the hub, and run your devices/appliances directly from that. Too easy.

One thing that I really like about the GoBe™ solar power system is that even though it’s primarily a green product, it’s not limited to relying on the Sun for a proper charge. Say that you’re going camping, or soon to be hit by a hurricane that will probably knock out your utilities. If you want to quickly charge the hub to capacity but don’t want to wait on the Sun, you can always plug it into a wall outlet instead. A little versatility is always a good thing…

Sorry, this product has been discontinued.

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Belkin Mini Surge Protector with USB Charger

mini-surge-protector-usbAbout three Christmases ago, I thought it would be a great idea to surprise my then-boyfriend (now husband) with an iPod. He’s never been much of a gadget guy, but was dying for some portable tunes to work out to, so I took that tidbit of information, combined it with the fact that I was strapped for cash, and settled on a nice, shiny 2nd generation Shuffle (I am not a cheapskate, people – keep in mind that this was back in the day when those babies were still $100 a pop).

But once I actually had the tiny piece of electronic wonderment in hand, I thought: “Hmmmmm, this is kind of small – maybe I should find him a few accessories for it.” So, I started mulling over everything from interchangeable iPod skins to iTunes cards. Then I saw it: a special dock that he could plug right into a wall outlet, for those times when the old Shuffle just needed a charge, and not a complete sync. After all, who wants to leave their computer grinding away for hours at a time just to charge a dinky (albeit cool) MP3 player?

My enthusiasm, however, came to a screeching halt when I saw that the stupid thing cost (if I remember correctly) upwards of 30 bucks. Are you kidding me??????????? So I settled for some assorted-color silicone iPod covers from my favorite bargain cool-stuff website, and called it a day. My man would just have to stick with computer-based USB charging for the time being.

Fast-forward 3 years. My husband and I are still charging both of our Shuffles (it turns out that he had the exact same gift idea for me that Christmas) from a laptop, and I’ve more or less forgotten about the wall outlet charger… until the other day, when I met a certain mini surge protector by Belkin, which happens to have two USB charging ports built right in. That’s what I’m talking about!

I’ve seen enough portable surge protectors in recent years that they really don’t catch my eye anymore, but those 2 little USB ports came pretty close to making my eyes bug out. The Belkin mini surge protector with USB charger plugs directly into a wall receptacle, and gives you 3 surge-protected outlets for laptops and the like, as well as 2 (also surge-protected) USB ports for charging iPods and other USB driven devices. All that, and it’s only half the price of that original Shuffle A/C wall adapter I saw a few years ago. Guess who’s getting one this Christmas?

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3M Notebook Privacy Filter

April 2, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Computer Accessories, Gadgets 

3M-notebook-filterWe’re coming up on Easter in a couple of days, but today I’m going to track back a couple of weeks to a very cool experience I had on St. Patrick’s Day (and no, it didn’t involve green beer or Bailey’s). A few hours before tucking into a plate of corned beef and potatoes, I got the chance to be a guest on Debbie Mahler’s Technical Tidbits podcast show on BlogTalkRadio. It was great – definitely one of the most enjoyable radio interviews I’ve ever been a part of! For that particular show, the topic was computer, laptop and data security, and it was my job to give listeners tips on how to prevent thier laptops and personal information from being stolen.

Throughout the course of the show, a bunch of cool products made their way into our conversation, but there’s one in particular that I thought would be totally blog-worthy: the 3M Notebook Privacy Filter. This is probably my favorite pick for all of you serial public laptop users out there. You know who you are: the folks who are zoned out in front of their notebook computers in Starbucks, Paneras, and airports the world over. The ones who are so intent on their screens that they wouldn’t even know it if some shifty-eyed shyster were lurking around, trying to steal glances at personal information over their shoulder or from the next seat.

Whaaaat?!!

You heard me. And clean up that mouthful of Frappuccino® you just spewed all over your keyboard. Bad people can steal account numbers, passwords, and entire identities by peeking at the right laptops at just the right moments. Many of us will squeak by without ever becoming a victim in that manner, but you never know. And yes, I know it’s beyond cliched, but better safe than sorry.

Back to the notebook privacy filter. It’s so simple, so easy to use, that the whole thing is almost comical. It’s just an overlay that you slide over your laptop screen. Once that baby’s in place, things suddenly become a lot more secure. Sitting in front of your laptop and gazing at the screen head-on, everything’s clear as day, as it should be for the legit user. But should someone try to sneak a peek from an angle, all they can see is dark screen. No passwords, no Social Security numbers, no photos – just dark. I don’t know about you, but I’m beginning to see the light…

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Surge2Go Portable Power Strip

EZ-Gear_Surge2Go-ProtectorPlugging your laptop in at home or the office is usually a no-brainer, because those are the two places that we’re pretty much guaranteed to have decent surge protectors lying around (Right, people? Please tell me that you’re protecting your electronics!). But on the other hand, what do you do when you’re traveling with a laptop?

As far I can can tell you, no one I know (including myself) has, up to now, been known to pack a nice surge protector for the road. And it’s easy to understand why – most of them aren’t designed with portablity in mind. There’s either the heavy duty brick-style battery backups that lurk under our desks (and we all know that anything brick-like doesn’t pack well), or the power strip variety, which don’t take up much space, per se, but still have those unwieldy, hard-to-coil-into-any-configuration power cords trailing off their ends.

So what’s a techy jet-setter to do? I’ll tell you this much: they (or you – or even me, for that matter) shouldn’t be putting their expensive electronic lifelines at the mercy of strange, unprotected power outlets. Just because you’re visiting a sweet place, that doesn’t mean that a power surge won’t strike. You have to be ready, no matter how deluxe the surroundings. That’s why EZ Gear created the Surge2Go™, a super compact, travel-friendly surge protector that is positively made for purses, computer bags, backpacks, and suitcases. At only a little over 5x2x3 inches in size, it’s pretty darned mini, and here’s something else cool: the cord is only 8 inches long, and is actually made to coil around the surge protector’s outer perimeter for storage – no cable clutter!

Sorry, this product has been discontinued.

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Remote Controlled Power Outlets

remote-controlled-power-outlet-mainToday’s main event is sure to be a Favorite Gadget shoo-in for anyone who wants to save energy, walk into a lit house, or would just rather not get off the couch to turn off the outside lights. So, whether you’re environmentally-conscious, safety-minded, or just plain lazy (and who among us isn’t), this one’s for you.

Now, I’m the type of person who doesn’t exactly enjoy stepping into a pitch-black house. I’ll sometimes leave a lamp on just in case, but then I usually end up feeling guilty about burning up lightbulbs and electricity when I’m not even around to benefit from it. What’s an on-the-move girl to do? First thing: stop being wasteful, and secondly, spend around 12 bucks and plug an entryway lamp into a Remote-Controlled Power Outlet.

Why would someone want a remote-controlled outlet? Well, mainly because it comes with a remote, but otherwise, because it lets you turn whatever’s plugged into it On and Off from up to 40 feet away. Just aim and push the button. Move over, The Clapper!

In my opinion, one of the best features of this handy little outlet/remote duo is that it has the ability to work through doors, walls and ceilings/floors, so a little structural obstruction won’t get in the way of accomplishing lights out. This makes it great for dark-house scaredy cats like me, because you can technically keep the remote control in your car, and use it to turn on a lamp just inside the front door, provided that it’s within 40 feet. No more cringing in the dark while groping around for invisible light switches.

In addition to letting you operate electronic devices via remote control, this outlet also gives you the Power of Auto-Off. Granted, it’s not exactly the same as having the ability to set a timer to an exact hour and minute, but it is nice to know that you can set the outlet to turn something off after 2, 4, 6 or 8 hours if you need to.

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3M MPro Pocket Projector

March 11, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Gadgets 

MPro120_solo_handI must be feeling extra into movies this week, because they just keep popping up as a blog topic. Yesterday it was a product that’s used in movie production, but today I have something even more fun for you: a gadget that lets you view movies or photos on demand, and is tiny enough to fit in your pocket. And no, it’s not an iPod. Even though Apple has pretty much cornered the market on pint-sized pieces of electronic awesomeness, today I have to give props to 3M.

Have you seen their MPro Pocket Projector? This is the best mini thing to come out since, oh, I don’t know, Munchkins (to specify, I mean the donut kind, not the Lollipop Guild… although, they’re not bad either). But I digress. Suffice it to say that this thing is great. How cool must it be to carry around PowerPoint presentations, movies, and photo slideshows right in your shirt pocket? And they’re projectable! We’re talking freedom from squinting at 2-inch screens! You can turn any flat surface out there into a screen, and view pictures that range anywhere from 8 to 50 inches in size.

I don’t know about you, but I think that aside from all the perks it has for traveling businesspeople and on-the-road presenters, the Pocket Projector could very well revolutionize the way we wait in line at tedious places like Orlando theme parks and the DMV. Just be sure to get in line behind a laid-back, obliging type who doesn’t mind serving as a human movie screen (word to the wise: you probably shouldn’t attempt this in New York or similar).

But back to business. I think that you’ve caught my drift in the “this is super cool!” department, but let me quickly outline a few of the technical specs that may be of interest. You’re probably wondering if the projector provides sound, and the answer is yes – it’s fully equipped to output audio without extra speakers. The MPro is designed to play nicely with Windows-based sofware like MS Word, PowerPoint and Excel, as well as Adobe. You also have a choice of models: the MP120 works in conjuction with computers, cameras and smartphones, and the MP150, which has its own internal memory for storing and accessing files independently, without help from other devices.

Sorry, the MPro 120 has been discontinued. But good news: the MPro 150 is still available, so take a look!

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The Gorillapod

February 9, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Gadgets 

gorillapodI’ve been a huge fan the Gorillapod digital camera tripod for entire years now, so you’ll understand my ecstatic reaction upon learning that we actually sell the thing. That’s right – I found out that all this time, I’ve been blogging away on other products while my little friend languished deep in our factory outlet, just waiting to be rediscovered.

It all started about 3 years ago, when my Dad was just getting into Skype but having trouble keeping his webcam situated in one place. One day, as I was researching home electronics, I came across a bendy, grippy, camera-holding contraption in a magazine and thought, “well, that will do the trick.” Fast forward a couple of months, and a festively-wrapped Gorillapod with my Dad’s name on it sat under the Christmas tree. Man, was that one a hit!

The Gorillapod is a little weird-looking at first glance, but it really grows on you once you see what it’s capable of. You know that scene in Ocean’s 11 (the remake) where George Clooney and Brad Pitt are scouting for a few last guys for the heist? The end up hearing about a Chinese acrobat who would be perfect for the job, and go to see his troupe perform. It’s totally insane – you have a bunch of acrobats climbing and suspending themselves off of vertical poles at crazy angles, and it doesn’t look like they’ll ever lose their grip or even break a sweat. Well, the same holds true for the Gorillapod. Poles, tree branches, uneven rocks, computer monitors… you name the irregular object or surface, and the Gorillapod’s flexible rubberized tentacles can wrap around or grip it with seemingly no effort, all while holding on to your digital or web camera.

The Gorillapod is perfect for adventurers who need to capture the perfect shot but can’t find a decent place to rest the cameras, as well as for people who just want their webcams to perch on their monitors. Believe me, you’ve got to try it… you’ll never see camera tripods the same way again.

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GenZ Eco Power Charging Station

eco-charging-stationCharging stations are all kinds of hot right now, and it feels like I blog about them an awful lot. And it doesn’t look like that’s going to change anytime soon, because there’s yet another new one to tell you about. And so, fans of organized charging, meet the GenZ Eco Power Charging Station.

I don’t want to tell you who should like this right off the bat, but I will say that the GenZ Eco has a totally different look than a lot of the other charging stations I’ve written about. Being a girl who likes attractive home and office accessories, to this point I’ve gravitated toward the leather-look and super mod styles, but something tells me that this particular one is going to appeal more to guys – especially ones who are really into gadgets. It’s black, it looks a little like a closed laptop, and it’s overall cool. But take a look at the picture – you’ll see what I mean about it having a techier appeal.

Anyway… in addition to its unique style, the Eco Power Charging Station has a few other really neat features, the first of which is that it has charger connectors already built in. This is really pretty sweet, because it means that you can toss all of those individual charger cords, or at least stash them away until you need to travel. The 13 built-in connections are compatible with thousands of devices, so unless you’re trying to charge a gadget that’s really old or rare, you’re covered.

And now for the “eco” part. Cell phone chargers are notorious “vampire electronics,” because they keep drawing small amounts of power as long as they’re plugged in, whether or not they’re actively charging. And to add insult to injury, when you leave your devices plugged in after they’re fully rejuiced, their batteries actually wear out faster. Hmmmphhh – you can’t win, right? Actually, you can, because the GenZ Eco charger is able to sense when a gadget is fully powered, and as soon as it gets that message, it automatically cuts the flow of electricity to that device. No unnecessary battery wear, no go-nowhere power being wasted, just exactly what you need – nothing more, nothing less.

And did I mention that it can handle several gadgets at once?

Sorry, this product has been discontinued.

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