Oct. 2007: Gadgets on the Go

Issue Home | Printable PDF (132kb)

iPod nano Adds Video

Gadget fans have lately been abuzz about the new iPod nano, now with video capability. On Sept. 5, Apple introduced the new iPod nano with the ability to play up to 5 hours of TV shows, music videos, movies, and podcasts. In addition, it features a larger, brighter display and lets you browse your music by album artwork.

In the announcement press release, Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO, said, “We’ve taken the most popular music player in the world and added stunning video playback just in time for the holiday season. The iPod nano just keeps getting better and better with each new generation.”

iPod nano includes, pre-installed, three games and additional games can be purchased online from the iTunes Store (www.itunes.com). If you are just playing audio, you can get up to 24 hours on a single charge, but when video the limit is 5 hours.

Now, I’m not sure I really want to watch TV shows and movies inside a two-inch display with 204 pixels per inch, but you (or your kids) might. However, I have to admit that the gadget does look cool in its five different available colors: silver, black, blue, green and a red special edition. Models with 4GB and 8GB start at $149. For more information, visit www.apple.com/ipodnano.

The R2-D2 Home Theater System

If you liked the perky little droid from the original Star Wars movies, you’ll love this gadget. It is an R2-D2 shaped home theatre system.

Get this, R2’s head holds a DLP projection system with 1,500:1 contrast. You can project movies, TV shows, images, and video games from his radar eye at 1024 x 768 resolution onto walls up to 16.5 feet away, equivalent to an 80” screen. Even cooler, the unit can rotate the viewing angle up to 65 degrees to project images onto your ceiling. You’ll find the DVD/CD player in one of his mechanical arms.

No need to buy a docking station for your iPod if you’ve got this gadget. R2’s anterior louvred vents rotate, revealing a docking station that fits most iPods — including video iPods.

R2 comes with 20-watt built-in speakers and an access panel with slots for memory cards and a USB port. An LED message center on his rear logic display alternately presents his current function and random light patterns. All the audio and visual connections for connecting headphones, external speakers, video game systems, TVs, and more are located on a terminal panel in the the back.

Worried your little faux-R2 will fall down the stairs of off a table? No need. R2 has sensors that help him avoid pitfalls when moving forward, backward, left and right.

You also get a mounted model of the Millennium Falcon that holds the remote control for all of R2’s functions.

I’m drooling already. So how much will this set me back, you say? Just $2,799.95 from Hammacher Schlemmer at www.hammacher.com.

The SwissPen

It’s a pen. It’s a Swiss army knife. It’s both! The SwissPen by Wagner of Switzerland is the perfect on-the-go gadget for geeks. In six styles — Classic, Spectrum, Signature, Elite, Golf and X-1, this handy little pen is definitely mightier than your average pen.

On one end is your standard ball-point pen, with a little enhancement. It has pressurized ink (a technology originally designed for NASA), so you can write upside down, under water, on glossy surfaces and even extreme temperatures. Not that’s adventure-ready writing gear.

On the other end, you’ve got a set of tools normally found in a small Swiss army knife: knife/letter opener, screw-driver, nail file and scissors. There’s even a small, long life flash light inside the pen. The Golf version also has a divot repair tool.

In addition, the pen has a balanced weight distribution of 48/52 and is water-resistant, even in the presence of salt water.

Of course, with all this functionality, the pen is a bit on the pricey side, ranging from $50 to $180. For more information, visit www.wagnerswitzerland.com.