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Gadget Reviews

By: Ted Kritsonis

Scosche solBAT II

Retail price: $30 US

This is one of those items that you’ll always leave in the car or take with you anywhere with a window. It’s a solar charger that only needs the sun’s rays to channel energy to just about any small USB-powered device like a phone, digital camera or MP3 player. Hey, it can even do the job on overcast days. It comes with a suction window mount, which you can stick anywhere while plugging in your device with its included USB cable. and


Kodak PlaySport
Retail price: $160

Shooting still photos in and around the beach or pool is one thing, but shooting 1080p HD video is another. You can plunge down up to 10 ft. with this baby and record video of your snorkelling and scuba diving excursions. There isn’t any real storage capacity here, so you’ll need to plunk down some extra coin for an SD memory card. You can upload your water-based escapades onto YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, or just use the included HDMI cable to play them on an HDTV.


Novothink Solar Surge 

Retail price: $80 US

For you iPhone and iPod Touch lovers out there, this is the first solar-powered case that you might get your hands on. It’s pretty straightforward in that it collects sunlight on the back panel and uses the energy to charge your phone’s battery. There’s even a free app you can download that tells you how much sunlight you would need for a full charge. You don’t need to remove your iPhone or iPod from the case to sync it with iTunes. It is a bit thick in your pocket though, since the back panel adds some overall size.


Asus O!Play

AirRetail price: $145

We’ve had the previous O!Play in these pages before, but this is the new one that has Wi-Fi capability so you can watch your movies, TV shows, photos and listen to your music wirelessly. It’s also got a memory card reader for fast playback of images. So, imagine being able to stream all your stuff from your PC or Mac, or just plugging in an external hard drive and watching what you want without Internet access. It plays a lot of different file formats and recent firmware upgrades have opened up access to 100 Internet TV stations, 15,000+ Internet radio stations, along with Picasa and Flickr. and


Withings Wi-Fi Body Scale

Retail price: $160 U.S.

A weight scale usually isn’t meant to be pretty but this thing has some bells and whistles worth a second look. Aside from reminding you it might be time to hit the gym, it also tells you your lean and fat mass, as well as a calculation of your body mass index (BMI). It lays all this out for you on your own Withings home page or through the free WiScale app for the iPhone. It can also integrate the data with sites and apps like Google Health, Microsoft HealthVault, RunKeeper and DailyBurn.

Swann PenCam DVR Video Camera
Retail price: $120

It’s a hefty price to pay for a pen, but if you’re looking to put a little Bond into your lifestyle, this might be a cool way to dig up some dirt. It’s got 2GB of internal memory to record 640x480 AVI clips or JPEGs. Plug it into your PC and you can upload the stuff to your hard drive, while recharging the battery, which should last about 90 minutes on a full charge. At most, you’ll get just over an hour of clips, but that can vary depending on how much battery life you have. and


FlashWear Light Up Shirt 

Retail price: $35

Wearing one of these flashy shirts will definitely turn some heads after you step into a club or bar that’s spinning some pulse-pounding beats. These FlashWear shirts use electroluminescent technology that is really thin, so you feel like you’re wearing any normal shirt. A couple of batteries is all you need to keep this powered and flashing with the music or other sounds you hear. There are a ton of different styles and designs to pick from, though prices don’t really differ all that much.


Blackbox M14 Headphones 
Retail price: $250

Noise-cancelling headphones are all the rage for those times where you want audio clarity in louder settings, like a plane, train and bus. The M14 set can work without the noise-cancelling switch turned on, which is great since some of their competitors don’t do that. The rubberized muffs feel nice and the sound quality is good when the switch is turned on (not as much when off). Blackbox offers you a 30-day trial if you buy the set directly from their website.

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