At the risk of repeating myself, the iPhone is fantastic but in many ways is a victim of its own success. The iPhone’s ubiquity distils much of it’s cool appeal and it’s rich and varied app landscape means it’s excellent phone battery life is quite poor mobile computing device battery life. Streaming podcasts in 3G via Instacast, whilst drawing in Brushes and periodically checking my inbox all take their toll on iPhones and many is the day when I’ve been “caught short” and needed to recharge mid-day at a wall socket.
Of course you many not always have a wall socket and the necessary cables to hand so the utility of battery backs such as case-mate’s fuel-lite iPhone 4 case speaks for itself. Whilst bulkier, more powerful battery packs are on the market, the case-mate fuel-lite is, pretty much as the name would suggest, a lightweight charging solution. Incredibly slim for a battery pack, the fuel-lite pads out your iPhone like a two week beach holiday, instead of the “I’ve let myself go” look of larger battery packs. From a protection point of view, the case covers the iPhone adequately and, whilst I wouldn’t hurl it against a wall, I wouldn’t freak out dropping it from a moderate height with the fuel-lite attached.
How does it perform as a battery? Well it’s only packing a 1020 mAh punch, so there’s a limit to what you can expect from it (of 1020 mAh). Other cases can charge your iPhone completely and then some, but they also double your iPhone in size and leave awkward looking bulges in your pocket. If you are a heavy iPhone user or can envisage going days without a charger then you should look into one of those. If however you find yourself running low at the end of the day and need a simple top-up then the fuel-lite may well be perfect. As previously stated, it’s very slender for a battery pack and the addition usage if gives you (up to four hours additional talk time) can be invaluable.
RRP £49.99 but yours for about £37 on Amazon (try haggling).
We seem to have been inundated with stories about solar-powered gadgets over the past few weeks and as the sun has shone almost relentlessly since Easter, it’s been remarkably good timing on behalf of these technology companies.
Up next is the solar-powered Bluetooth speakerphone the soIVUE, from Scosche Industries.
Scosche has aimed to tackle two issues, by offering a safe hands-free way to speak on the phone while driving, while including an environmentally friendly way to run a mobile phone.
The integrated solar panel should soak up sunlight continuously, and the energy can be stored in its Lithium-ion battery for a year. And should it be night-time, there’s a backup USB charging cable and car adaptor included. The unit also announces and displays the names of up to 1,000 callers, so you don’t need to take your eyes off the road. There are indicators for signal strength, pairing, and battery level.
The soIVUE has an internal accelerometer, which automatically turns itself on when you get into your car, and will connect to a mobile phone automatically. It can sit in the car using the included windshield suction cup mount, or sun visor clip.
The soIVUE is priced at £89.99 and can be bought from www.eoutlet.co.uk.
The slightly nauseating Americanism, of referring to putting petrol in a car as ‘juice’, has now moved into mobile phone technology, thanks to Mophie, the California-based designer and manufacturer of mobile intelligent devices and accessories. Aiming to provide iPhones with an extra boost of power and protection, Mophie launched a ‘juice pack’, which actually won awards for its originality and design. Taking the juice pack line even further, Mophie have now announced the ‘Juice Pack Plus’ for iPhone 4, a battery case designed to improve the aptitude and capabilities of the iPhone 4.
This ultra-light and stylish battery case will only put an extra 1mm of thickness to an iPhone, and, by including a dual injected rubber grip, provides users will extra grip to clutch their beloved iPhone extra tightly. The Juice Pack Plus more than doubles the battery life of an iPhone 4, meaning users will have an additional hours of talk time on 3G and 16 hours on 2G, up to 7 more hours of internet use on 3G and 11 additional hours WiFi, as well as whopping 11 extra hours of video playback.
Not only is the Juice Pack Plus the biggest juice pack case produced thus far, enabling devout iPhone users to squeeze every inch of potential battery life out of their fave gadget, but Mophie’s latest invention also acts as a virtual speaker box, which by redirecting sound from the bottom of the iPhone to the front, results in a richer, deeper and more fuller quality of sound.
Having become fond of their new sleek and stylish iPhone case, which, BTW is available in black, magenta, yellow and cyan, users will be likely to be reluctant to remove their iPhone capacity booster to charge or sync their device to iTunes. Fear not, as a pass-through USB cable included, enables users to simultaneously charge and sync their iPhone without having to remove it from the Juice Pack Plus.
Similar to a car’s fuel gauge, which tells you exactly how much “juice” is left in your vehicle, an integrated 4 light LED battery status indicator tells you how much “juice” is left inside the Juice Pack Plus.
If you think stretching your iPhone’s original battery life further, which, has incidentally been described as being “outstanding” and apparently exceeded Apple’s expectations for longevity during testing, it may prove provident to fork out £89.95 for a Mophie Juice Pack Plus.
You’d be churlish to deny that smartphones are a wonder of the modern age. Whichever fruit or robot-based feudal camp you find yourself attached to, the fact that for a relatively low price, people can walk around with a tiny computer in their pockets is amazing.
I love my iPhone 4 but the flexibility of the device (pipe down in the back you know exactly what I mean) and the rich Eco-system of apps means I am on it constantly – whether to play processor intensive games like Rage HD, to read books like the Bedwetter or to take HDR photos and HD video. The strain on my battery is intense. 2 years ago I had a Blackberry, the battery of which lasted for ages because I only used it for text and emails. The “do everything” nature of modern smartphones makes battery drain a real issue.
Of course, a user replaceable battery would be pretty handy in such circumstances but Apple’s form over function design team decided to go for a sealed case, creating a market for third party battery cases. The MiLi Power Pack 4 is a 3000 mAh battery case and stand and according to the dudes at MiLi the most powerful battery case on the market.
The case is a little bulky. And by a little I mean it practically doubles the girth and weight of your iPhone and makes it a bulky monster. The added weight is a little distracting at first but you slowly get used to it. Plus you don’t actually need to have the battery pack strapped to your phone at all times – you can leave your iPhone “naked” and just pop the case on when the battery is low.
There’s something amazing about seeing the flashing red “iPhone battery low” warning sign, pressing a button and having the phone’s battery automagically refill. With the MiLi in tow you can get up to 675 hours on standby, 11.25 hours of 3G talk time, 22.5 hours of video play and 87.5 hours of audio play.
The lovely little ring pull kick stand is really cool for portrait and landscape viewing and pass through charging means you can charge the iPhone in the case and sync with iTunes etc at the same time, which is handy. Until Apple’s enables wireless syncing through iTunes (when oh when Steve!).
What do you buy a travel junkie that seems to have everything? Well that’s simple, any one of the following…
Livescribe Echo Smartpen
If your loved one’s tendency for travel is business rather than pleasure related, the chances are he or she will love the Livescribe Echo Smartpen. This ingenious device records audio and matches it up with what you are writing. People taking notes during a presentation or a lecture can get away with jotting down keywords and later going back and listening to the conversation, cued up to different words on the page. When users download the free software to their PC, when the pen is plugged into a USB port, they can recap both the audio and the notes – most definitely a ‘smarter’ choice of pen.
Available in two different sizes, the 4GB Echo Smartpen costs £110 and the 8GB Smartpen costs £130.
This app costs nothing so cannot be considered as the most ‘generous’ travel gift available. Nonetheless being a simple, searchable app including information on flights, car hire and hotels, it’s a corker.
For travellers enduring long-distance journeys, standard ear buds can become slightly uncomfortable to say the least. The Klipsch Image S4 Headphones come in different sizes and are smaller, more tapered and softer than conventional headphones. They may be smaller but they are sturdier and more sound resistant than other standard ear buds – a real ‘must have’ for ardent travellers.
Go Laptop Travel Charger
Times have changed immensely since the days a backpacker’s backpack consisted of a pair of undies, socks and a toothbrush. Nowadays even backpackers insist on taking their laptop with them on their travels. A decent charger is therefore imperative. With a bevy of ‘tips’ or adaptors, that work with different power jacks, a whole host of Windows-based laptops can be charged with ease. And measuring 0.7 inches thick and weighing just 13.5 ounces, the Go Laptop Travel Charger is less bulky and lighter than standard AC adaptors, making more room for those other ‘essential’ travel items.
World Mate app
Another fantastic freebie, the World Mate app is an essential travel portal that provides worldwide weather forecast, currency exchanges and hotel searches.
By acting as a kind of personal travel organiser, the Tripit travel app creates a master travel itinerary and enables users to access their travel itinerary online. To collate confirmation emails into one travel itinerary, download the Tripit app for free at: www.tripit.com
Between mobile phones, tablet PCs, cameras and whatever other gadgets so many of us cart about all day, it’s sometimes hard to keep up with what’s been charged and what hasn’t. And if you’ve got a gadget that’s juice-hungry, it can be really easy to run out of power even if you’ve gone out with a full battery charge.
So what’s the solution? Well, you could carry about an assortment of chargers with you wherever you go, but short of lumbering around with a shopping-bag sized bag to carry them all in, you’d also need to find somewhere to plug them in. Hmm, not an easy option. So is there a solution? Well, now there’s the Proporta TurboCharger 5000.
This nifty little device is compatible with any of your devices that charges up from a standard USB port, and its makers say that it packs enough power for even the hungriest of gadgets – including the iPad.
With one Mini USB input port and two USB output ports, the Turbocharger 5000 also comes supplied with a number of connector heads. Its LED screen shows you how much charge it has, but its makers say it is possible to charge up the iPad, for instance, and a BlackBerry at the same time.
Could be a Godsend for anyone who travels on business, or who just spends a lot of time out and about but still wants access to all their electronic wizardry.
At £42.95, it’s not over-expensive, and it’s a small price to pay if it’s essential that you have access to your tablet and phone at all time.
LatestGadgets were invited to see some of the best gadgets for the iPhone and iPad. Here are some of the most innovative products out now.
Cygnett have released the Zooom for the iPhone 4 and 3GS. It is shaped like a PS3 controller and holds the iPhone for secure gaming. It enhances gaming on the iPhone 4 as you can grip on to the Zooom and make control much easier. The Zooom really comes alive when you play tilt-to-steer racing games like Need For Speed.
Blue have released Mikey, a microphone which records directly on to your iPhone. It has 230° rotating design with three settings allowing you to record everything from a loud concert, lectures or an interview. The quality of sound recorded is CD-quality and clear for something so small.
Native Union launch the Moshi Moshi line of handsets designed to offer the convenience of a landline wireless handset without the radiation from mobile phones which the government repeatedly warns us about. Ideal for small offices and homes, the handsets can be paired to 2 mobile phone devices using Bluetooth. The MM04 can also be used as a speaker to playback music or even conference calls.
There are an abundance of cases for the iPhone. Some are hard, soft, plain or have graphics. With so much to choose from, your case should make a statement about you by the design or features. Agent18 have the EcoSheild+ for the iPhone4. For the environmentally conscious among you, one recycled plastic bottle is used in every Ecosheild+. One thing I like about this case is the integrated stand which rotates open to allow easy viewing of movies and FaceTime. Docking is convenient as the bottom half of the case can be removed.
Several accessories for the iPad were debuted. A stand with a difference is the i360 by Intelligent Touch. The unique feature about this stand is the 360° movement. Ideal if you move around the house and want to rotate the stand so you can see the screen from wherever you are. We have all heard about the much rumoured iPad Mini and the i360 takes this into account and is future-proofed as the ‘claw’, which holds the iPad, can be interchanged with different sizes. The i360 is available from December at £79.95.
Twelve South have announced the BookArc for the iPad. The BookArc is made of steel and one of the best features is the sleek look to match your iPad. It allows you to position your iPad in four ways allowing ease of use for work, watching videos or just charging. It is small enough to fit in a bag so you can take it with you on the go and use it show your iPad off to friends. It doesn’t have the flexibility of the i360 but it is more portable.
How many times have you been out to have your iPhone or your iPad die on you? There are several chargers for the iPhone but not so many for the iPad. Mophie’s juice pack powerstation can charge an iPad or any USB device. It has a 3600mAh capacity with multiple USB charging ports so you can charge two devices at the same time. A LED power indicator shows how much charge is in the powerstation.
Be.ez, French manufacturer of laptop cases and bags, expand the Le Rush range of iPad bags with Le Rush En Ville. With so many bags available, it can be hard to choose one. Le Rush En Ville is light and made from high-quality ballistic nylon to protect your iPad. The look is streamlined and stylish. I always like lots of pockets in my bag or I am left standing in a shop looking for my purse for a very long time. The Le Rush En Ville has more than enough pockets, including a dedicated compartment for your iPad.
Libratone are a new Danish audio company providing innovative wireless sound. Libratone Beat offers high quality stereo sound and can connect wirelessly to an iPhone or an iPad. The speakers are fairly large with an unusual soft exterior which feels like a carpet. The design is meant to be Scandinavian. These speakers are definitely a statement and different from the hard and cold feel of most speakers.
For frequent travellers, Seinnheiser offer PXC 250-II. The provide NoiseGard™ active noise cancellation technology so you hear nothing but the music on your plane or train ride, useful for when you have a screaming child next to you on a long-haul trip. One battery will last 50 hours. You can use the headphones without the batteries; however, you will not have the noise cancellation technology. A space-saving feature with the PXC 250-II is you can fold it away as the headphones can be turned in towards the headband.
We take a brief look at something for everyone this week with kids’ spy toys, dog gadgets and photo equipment.
Fans of the Parrot AR Drone quadricopter and of not spending £300 might like to check out the Hawk Eye – an indoor video camera helicopter. Whilst lacking in the AR Drone’s iPhone enhanced augmented reality “omg are you controlling that with your iPhone?!?!” factor the £59.99 helicopter can record 5 minutes of colour video at 320×240 or many more photos at 640*480. Even better, instead of replaceable batteries, the Hawk Eye charges through your computer. It also provides free access to an easy to use online video-editing platform aimed at kids but open to anyone really into taking low res aerial images for fun. The Hawk Eye will be available in late November and is clearly aiming to work its way under some Christmas trees.
If you are really into playing with spy stuff then head on over to spynethq.com which has a range of inexpensive spy toys for children that are more fun than anything you would find in GCHQ. There is the SpyNet Video watch (£49.99), which features on board video, audio and photo recording capabilities, a Flex Neck Snake Cam (£24.99), a Voice Recording Spy Pen (£19.99) a Voice Changer (£9.99) and most intriguingly some Rear View Spy Glasses that give you eyes in the back of your head (£7.99). For some adult spy toys, take a look at Naomi’s review of the Y-Cam.
If you prefer Golden retrievers to Goldeneye then you might be interested in the DOG-e-walk – an ultra sonic gizmo that stops dogs from pulling on the leash, but somehow incorporates anti interference technology (a Non Irritation System) that stops it from annoying passing canines. Interested? Check out the Company of Animals website for more info.
If however you prefer Leica to Laika, Lastolite have released a new Ezybox Speed-Lite a 22 cm x 22 cm mini softbox that can pop straight onto a flashgun and provides an inner and outer diffusion layer. Tiny, collapsible and lightweight it can be yours for £49.00.
Of course the one thing that unites nearly all gadgets is batteries and Orca Trading have a neat gadget that should help with power on the move. The Powerstrap is a wearable rechargeable battery pack that contains 6 LiOn battery cells which is about 1500 mAH of power. It comes with 10 adaptors for a variety of devices (check) and save you in a pinch – or power a short street party. I’m not sure why you’d want to wear it rather than just have it in your bag, but that aside, additional battery power on the go is always welcome. Yours for £39.99.