Browse through the third installment of The GATE’s Holiday Gift Guide as I review some of the hottest gadgets and accessories for the holiday season. Reviewed items include: Nu Force BT-860 Bluetooth Headphones, Verbatim Wireless Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard, Powerskin for Samsung Galaxy, Warpia StreamHD, Jabra Supreme Bluetooth Headset, and the Griffin Helo TC.
Laptops have become ultra-portable storage devices for family photos and videos, but what does your loved-one do when they want to show off pictures to their friends? It’s not always convenient to sit around the laptop watching photos, which is where the Warpia StreamHD comes into play.
The device comes with two parts; a mini USB adapter that plugs into your laptop and a small box that plugs into a power outlet and runs an HDMI cable to your television set or high definition monitor. Once you set up the laptop with the provided software you output the signal to the television and suddenly you can watch video or browse photos in full 1080p resolution with 5.1 audio.
Compatible with Windows 7, XP, and Vista, the Warpia StreamHD is simple to setup and lets you duplicate your screen on the television, or expand your desktop with the television acting as a second attached monitor, and it works up to 30 feet away.
Nu Force BT-860 Bluetooth Headphones
Available at www.NuForce.com
If you have a friend like me, who hates wires, I can recommend headphones that will make the perfect gift, and they’re under $100. Nu Force’s BT-8600 Bluetooth Headphones are light and easy to use, and will last up to 8 hours playing music through your phone or Blu-tooth device, and they can stay on standby for 240 hours.
Listening to music and suddenly get a call? No problem, the BT-8600 headphones have a built-in microphone so you can switch between calls and music. The stylish headphones also have basic controls to allow you to change tracks, adjust volume, and activate voice commands.
While I wish the Nu Force BT-860 folded down for storage, the headphones are solidly built to withstand average travel abuse and they come packed with an extra set of earphone covers, just in case.
There are numerous Bluetooth keyboards on the market, but what sets Verbatim’s model ahead of the others is the fact that it’s a nearly full-sized keyboard that folds in half for storage. While that shrinks the effective size of the spacebar moderately, the keyboard works well with almost any tablet or Bluetooth enabled device, including the iPad or your Android device, and it has built-in media controls as well.
Battery life is very good, and the keyboard comes with a handy little case so it won’t get scuffed in transit.
Power-hungry phone fanatics often run out of juice on the go, and when there is simply no place to recharge, there are not a lot of options. That’s why the Powerskin battery skin for the Samsung Galaxy, among a multitude of other phones, is a fantastic backup for busy users. All you do is attach the mini-USB cable to the phone’s port and slide the rest of the skin over your phone and it starts charging immediately. The skin gives you full control of the phone as usual during charging, including any normally available buttons that are embedded in the outside of the case, and you just take it off once the phone is done recharging.
The skin is impact-resistant, to protect the smartphone, but it’s still fairly light. The only downside is that it makes the phone a little extra bulky, but it is well worth it to boost your battery life by hours, depending on use, and there’s also a button on the back so you can check the remaining power on the skin.
Jabra Supreme Bluetooth Headset
Bluetooth headsets are fantastic little devices, but aside from being comfortable and having long battery lives, the other big must-have feature is wind and noise cancellation. For the price, the Jabra Supreme Bluetooth headset offers all the best perks that any user would want, from simple voice commands, a strong battery life, and a comfortable fit, to the all important noise cancellation that will keep wind and background noise out of the conversation, both inside or outdoors.
The Jabra Supreme also flips open or closed, for easy shut off or power on, and the ear hook is surprisingly comfortable, even after a few hours of wear.
Griffin Helo TC
Available at www.griffintechnology.com
What kind of accessories would you like to give with that new iPhone or iPad? There are a lot of fun accessories you can give that special someone, but none are quite as fun as the Griffin Helo TC mini remote controlled helicopter, and it comes at the right price.
The Griffin Helo TC charges through a USB cable, and flies thanks to a remote control pack you attach to your iPhone or iPad. All that’s needed is the special Helo TC app and the mini helicopter is ready for flight.
While controls can be very tricky, and battery life is not fantastic, the Griffin Helo TC is an addictive toy for teenagers or adults.