GPSOLO December 2010
2010 Techno-Gift GuideBy Jeffrey AllenThe wonders of modern technology continue to impress most of us on a daily basis. We have come to accept technology as a significant part of our daily lives. We get up in the morning and watch the news on (probably large-screen) televisions or check it out on the Internet over morning coffee. We drive an assortment of vehicles ranging from highly green, electronic transportation to gas-powered machines that keep the oil companies rich. We walk, ride, and fly (and sometimes, just sit quietly) listening to music on our digital music players or reading our digital books on electronic readers. Of course, let’s not forget the fact that most of us have had cellular telephones permanently connected to some portion of our anatomy for years. The list goes on, and on, and on. . . . It runs the gamut from transportation to recreation to health care to communication. We use technology regularly and intensely in almost every portion of our personal and our business lives.Given the impact of technology on our lives and the scope of its influence, more and more people think in terms of technology when it comes time to buy birthday presents, holiday gifts, and gifts for many other occasions. With that in mind, as we enter the 2010 holiday season, this guide may give you some ideas about technology gifts to get for friends, family, partners, employees, and, perhaps, a few special clients. Nothing precludes you from getting some of the technology discussed in this guide for yourself, as many of the items will prove helpful, if not invaluable, in your practice and/or enjoyable, if not desirable, in your personal life.Before getting into the good stuff, a few required warnings:
- Nothing said in this article constitutes tax advice. Consult your tax preparer about questions of deductibility and depreciation or any other tax-related matters.
- You should not construe anything said in this article as an endorsement or recommendation of a particular product by the American Bar Association or its General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division. The opinions expressed in this article represent my opinions and observations. Please do not give anyone else credit for them.
- My opinions and observations do not replace the manufacturers’ warranties, instructions, or specifications.
- Price references in this article reflect manufacturers’ list prices, unless otherwise stated. Generally, you can find most products online at lower prices than in bricks-and-mortar shops. If you choose to shop online, be wary of whom you deal with and take steps to ensure that you get what you wanted.
Apple’s iPad, the Number 1 Recommendation
Apple’s iPhone 4 and Other Smart Phones
What If I Want to Get a BlackBerry?
Accessorize! Accessorize! Accessorize!
Display protection and cases.The Zagg invisibleSHIELD ( www.zagg.com) provides the best protection I have found for smart phone and iPad displays. I have used the invisibleSHIELD for over a year. Once you get the shield on, it pretty much lasts for the life of the device (if it fails, they replace it). You can find the invisibleSHIELD for most smart phones, the iPhone, iPod, iPad, and various other devices online directly from Zagg or at retail locations such as Best Buy. Zagg makes kits that protect only the screen or (at a higher price) kits that cover the entire device (back, sides, and display). The material Zagg uses for its invisibleSHIELD is a clear plastic that Zagg guarantees against scratches for the life of your device. The material also provides some texture, making it less likely you will drop the device while using it. A word of warning: When you install the invisibleSHIELD, you need to carefully and diligently follow the directions, especially the part about washing your hands and wetting the fingers so that you do not stick to the plastic. Once you get it on, it will need about 24 hours to cure (you should leave your device off for that time period). You will see many small air bubbles disappear during the curing period. Because the full-coverage kits make it difficult for devices to fit into tight-fitting cases, I have generally opted for the display protection only, leaving the protection of the remainder of the device to more decorative cases (usually leather, as a function of my personal preferences). The face kit for an iPhone 4 costs $14.99, while the full-coverage kit costs $24.99. The face kit for an iPad costs $29.99, and the full-body-coverage kit costs $39.99. Other devices have similar price structures.When it comes to fitted protective cases for the iPhone, those made by OtterBox, Sena, and Griffin top my list.OtterBox ( www.otterbox.com) makes two series of cases for the smart phones and iPad: the Defender and the Commuter series. The Commuter series provides very good protection for most devices from common risks of damage. The Defender series provides significantly greater protection, but the trade-off is greater weight, larger size, and higher cost. I like the look of the Commuter series better, but if I wanted to protect a device in the possession of a police officer, a construction worker, someone in the armed forces on active duty, or a serious adventurer, I would opt for the Defender series cases. The iPhone 4 Defender series case costs $49.95, while the Commuter series case costs $34.95. The iPad Defender series case costs $89.95, while the Commuter series case costs $64.95. OtterBox makes cases for most of the popular smart phones as well as many other devices.Sena Cases ( www.senacases.com) makes my choice for a smart, professional-looking, well-constructed line of leather cases for most of the popular smart phones, the iPad, and some other devices. My favorite of the iPhone 4 cases, the Walletbook, holds an iPhone, business cards, and a few other card-sized items, comes in many color and texture options, and costs $52. I have not used the pockets for credit cards as a result of my concern that the magnetic field generated by the phone will affect the readability of the card’s magnetic strip. As a result, I use the slots for business cards instead of credit cards.Sena makes iPad cases in a variety of styles. My favorite of the group, the Collega, costs $150, holds the iPad and some other miscellaneous items or accessories, and either functions as a stand-alone case or provides protection when used in connection with a larger case. It works very well when traveling or when I just want to carry a small and lightweight case. (I admit that I have a problem in that I always pack to fill available space, and that means that if I use a larger case, I will pack more things, which, of course, means schlepping more weight around than I need.)The accessories by Griffin Technology ( www.griffintechnology.com) for iPhones, iPads, iPods, and other electronic devices generally have a more casual appearance than those from Sena, but not so casual as the OtterBox line. Griffin’s cases and sleeves come in a variety of styles, materials, and colors. I like to use Griffin’s $34.95 FlexGrip silicone iPad case inside of a Collega or similar carrying case. The silicone case protects the back and sides of the iPad and makes the iPad more gripable and less likely to slip out of my hands when I use it—and it allows access to all the connection ports. You can get it in black, blue, purple, or white. Griffin also makes a wallet-style iPhone case that I like very much: the Elan Passport Wallet, which lists for $39.99. The case is leather, with chrome accents at the corners, and provides full protection for the iPhone 4. It has two business card pockets and a cash pocket on the left side of the wallet. See my comments above respecting the use of the card pockets for credit cards. The Elan Passport case comes only in black. If you decide to get one for yourself, note that I have discovered that, when you use the phone (other than as a hands-free telephone), it works best if you fold the wallet back—it’s easier to hold. Additionally, the snap will work to hold the case in that position for you. When you go to the Griffin website, you might also want to check out some of the other iPhone/iPad/iPod accessories, particularly the power supplies.Levenger ( www.levenger.com) also makes cases worth investigating. If you want extra protection for your iPad, check out the 10” Flak Jacket ($30), which also works for most netbooks. Levenger also offers a 13” ($40) and a 15” Flak Jacket ($40), which work very nicely to protect a laptop during travel. While you are at the Levenger site, you might also want to check out the messenger bags (the $199 Bomber Jacket Messenger is my personal favorite). They offer a professional-appearing shoulder bag that will easily hold your iPad in a protective case, your cell phone, and several other items.Waterfield Designs ( http://sfbags.com) also makes an excellent line of carrying cases for the iPad. I have enjoyed their bags for several years and have recommended them to you in the past. Waterfield Designs cases are well made, protective, reasonably priced, and generally casual in appearance. The bags come with an adequate amount of padding to provide protection to your iPad. My two favorites are the Exo SleeveCase ($49–$54) and the Ultimate SleeveCase ($55–$60). These are basically the same cases in slightly different sizes. The Ultimate SleeveCase works with an otherwise unprotected iPad, and the Exo SleeveCase accommodates an iPad in some protective cases, such as the Apple iPad case. You can get either case with a vertical or horizontal orientation and with or without the optional strap (an additional $9 to $19 depending on your choice of strap and including “D” ring attachments).Skooba Design ( www.skoobadesign.com) also offers a nicely made, reasonably priced, casual messenger-style shoulder case for the iPad or a netbook with up to a 10” screen. The bag lists for $49.95 and comes in your choice of black on black, blue on black, or brick on black. It will easily hold your iPad or netbook, charging blocks, earphones or headphones, and a few other accessories. The bag is very lightweight and just the thing for a trip to your local Starbucks on a Sunday morning. Skooba does a nice job with its bag line. The bags have a fairly casual appearance but are well made and will carry a lot. If you tend to over-pack your bags and they feel heavy and uncomfortable on your shoulder, you might also want to take a look at the Skooba Superbungee Bag Strap. It gives you some relief from the soreness that carrying a heavy bag can create by spreading the weight of the bag across your shoulder more evenly and by adding some elasticity to the strap. It sells for $25.95.STM (Standard Technical Merchandise; www.stmbags.com) also makes a small, casual iPad case that they call the jacket. The jacket iPad will hold your iPad and a few extra things (such as a charger). It sells for $24.95. STM’s jacket iPad holds considerably less than the Skooba or Levenger messengers bags—an advantage if you want to travel light, but a disadvantage if you need to carry more.STM also makes the iPad org board, which sells for $24.95. The iPad org board provides some protection to your iPad (primarily against scratches, as it has little padding), but it does hold a charger and some other items (an iPhone, earphones, and maybe a pen) to keep them all together for you. It would be an ideal organizer to put into a Skooba Messenger bag.If you want a premium and professional-looking case, check out the Tumi line ( www.tumi.com). Tumi makes a number of shoulder bags that will function very nicely as iPad bags (some will also work for netbooks). Like Levenger’s Bomber Jacket Messenger, these Tumi bags have no padding, so I strongly recommend that if you use one, you also use a sleeve or some other form of padded cover (for extra protection, use the Flak Jacket) to protect your iPad. Many of the Tumi bags come either in ballistic nylon or leather. The leather bags cost a bit more and look a bit more sophisticated, but the ballistic nylon bags also look quite professional and seem to hold up better (they resist damage very well), so you may prefer them to the leather versions. If you buy the bag at a bricks-and-mortar Tumi store or get it somewhere else and take it to a Tumi store, they will engrave initials on most bags at no charge.I like Tumi’s Alpha and Alpha Bravo lines of small bags, many of which will hold an iPad, phone, keys, and a few other items. I especially like the Alpha Bravo Beale Mini Messenger bag ($175), which comes in black or avocado ballistic nylon with leather trim. It is one of my favorites and makes a very nice iPad bag. I also like the Alpha Flap Zip Leather Crossbody bag ($295). It has been available in black ballistic nylon as well, but when I checked on the website for a price, I could not find that version of the product listed. It is possible that Tumi has discontinued the nylon version, but you may still find it in a Tumi store. Tumi has a number of other cases you might find appealing in slightly varying size ranges and with both horizontal and vertical configurations. Prices for this size range of Tumi bags run from $75 to $345, depending on the model. Most stores will not discount Tumi bags (there are a few exceptions). Usually, the only way to get a Tumi bag at less than retail price is when Tumi has a sale or discontinues a line.
Stand and deliver.The iPad is a great device, but a bit heavy to hold for long time periods. If you want to enjoy it more, get a stand to use while you watch a movie, read the news, or use a Bluetooth keyboard to take notes. Apple makes a combination keyboard and stand (see page 46) and also sells the stand separately as the Apple iPad Dock ($29). The Apple iPad Dock has the advantage of charging the iPad as well (if you plug it in).I have found other stands I like better than the iPad Dock, some of which will allow you to plug the iPad into its charger while on the stand. I have seen several stands that I like for various reasons. My favorites include the Twelve South BookArc ($49.99; www.twelvesouth.com), Griffin’s A-Frame ($49.99), and Griffin’s Loop ($29.99). Griffin’s A-Frame is a substantial folding device designed for travel but probably better suited to home or office use owing to its weight. I like the stand a lot and use it often in my office. The Twelve South BookArc provides a single angle of view, allowing you to position the iPad horizontally or vertically. It is light enough to use for travel, but you have better travel options that offer a less bulky package (including the A-Frame). The BookArc works very well as a stand in the office or at home.For travel, the folks at Twelve South make an outstanding collapsible mobile stand that they call the Compass ($39.99), undoubtedly because it opens much like that old-fashioned drafting tool. The compass folds up into a very small package and opens into a very competent iPad stand. Since I found it, I no longer leave home without it whenever I take my iPad along.
iPad keyboards.Apple offers two keyboards options for the iPad: the Apple iPad Keyboard Dock, which also serves as a stand for your iPad, and the Apple Wireless (Bluetooth) Keyboard. Both work well (and both cost $69). I prefer the Wireless Keyboard and a different stand as it gives me more freedom to position the keyboard and the iPad in a manner I find comfortable. If you want a smaller keyboard, you can get folding keyboards or a reduced-sized keyboard, such as Logitech’s diNovo Mini Bluetooth keyboard ($149.99; www.logitech.com). It comes with its own protective travel case and takes up less space in your bag than the Apple Wireless Keyboard. On the flip side, it has a much smaller keyboard, and people with larger hands may find it difficult to touch-type quickly on it when trying to take notes or working on a document.
Power to the iPhone.Apple has moved its products to sealed cases that do not allow you to replace the battery yourself. This means that you can no longer carry an extra charged battery and substitute it into your iPhone, iPod, iPad, or laptop when the battery runs low. As a part of this conversion, Apple has used larger batteries and lower-power-drawing processors. Nevertheless, it remains a fact that eventually the battery will run out of juice (usually at a most inopportune time). Because you cannot substitute a battery inside of the device, your only option is to use an external source of power. Several companies have jumped into the mix to make power sources that will recharge your iPhone/iPod/iPad battery and/or power your device once the internal battery has run out. The $79.95 mophie juice pack air ( www.mophie.com) not only provides good protection for the iPhone 4, it has a built-in battery that will roughly double the available power for the phone. The $39.95 juice pack reserve, an external battery for the iPhone/iPod, will quick-charge the device to supplement the available power.Tumi sells my favorite reserve power source/recharger in the dongle category. Tumi’s Mobile Power Pack holds multiple charges for your iPhone (or for many other devices as well), charges quickly, and comes with many connectors and a handsome case. It is a bit over-priced at $135, but it also comes with the Tumi cache. You can get the Mobile Power Pack in red or gunmetal. It will charge any iPhone or iPod with the Apple Dock port. As the Mobile Power Pack’s iPhone dock connector has a short cord, it will work with almost any case. Although the Mobile Power Pack takes up more space than most of the dongle devices, I prefer it to many as a result of its flexibility. Available adapters allow it to charge iPhones, iPods, BlackBerries, and various other smart phones and other devices. Once you buy the Mobile Power Pack, Tumi will give you extra adapters without requiring you to buy them. I have acquired a reasonably good-sized collection of adapters to accommodate my electronics, and I still do not have all the available adapters.
Earphones and headsets.Although the earphones that come with the iPad, the iPhone, and the iPod function competently, they leave considerable room for improvement. The earphones that come with most other telephones and mobile sound devices work no better (and often less well) than those shipped by Apple. I generally do not use the earphones that come with any of my devices; instead, I immediately upgrade to a higher-quality earphone or headset.A good set of earphones or a headset makes an excellent gift for any iPod, iPhone, or iPad owner as well as for owners of other music and/or video players or smart phones. I have used and enjoyed high-quality in-ear earphones for some time. Although I have several to recommend to you, I have found that after a while the in-ear devices have made my ears sore. As a result, I have started using headphones more and more, even though they have the disadvantage of taking up more space and adding weight to my travel gear. I find that I can wear them longer than earphones without any discomfort or soreness in my inner ear. Although wearing the headset may feel a bit odd at first, it becomes less and less strange after a short period of time. I also have several headsets to recommend to you.The world of earphones breaks down into two categories: (1) hard-wired and (2) wireless. The hard-wired models have the disadvantage of requiring a physical wire between the device and the earphone/headset. Most of the wireless earphones use Bluetooth technology. The wireless models have the advantage of no physical connection to the device but the disadvantage of draining power from the device to send the Bluetooth signals. Although some of the Bluetooth headsets provide stereo sound, most are single-ear devices that function primarily for the purpose of telephony. Additionally, in my experience, the wireless devices do not deliver sound of the same quality as the wired devices.
Hard-wired sets.In the hard-wired category, I have been partial to Shure earphones for some time. Shure ( www.shure.com) started with outstanding stereo earphones and then added a telephone adapter that introduces the required microphone and allows you to use the earphones for both stereo music and telephony. Shure recently updated its lineup of earphones. The current lineup includes the SE115 ($119.99), SE315 ($199.99), SE425 ($299.99), and SE535 ($499.99). The last three replace last year’s SE310 ($299.96), SE420 ($399.99), and SE530 ($499.99), respectively. I tested last year’s models and found them excellent. I have not yet had the opportunity to work with the new earphones, but when I checked on pricing, I found that Shure still had some of the older models available for sale. You may be able to pick one up at a bargain price. As you move up the line, each provides better sound than the ones beneath it; however, if you just pick one and listen only to it, you will probably find it most satisfactory.Shure uses a sound-isolation technology to keep out ambient noise and provide you with a pure sound experience. The sound-isolation technology depends on a good seal between the earphone and your ear, so take advantage of the sizing kit to ensure that you get a good fit.I had the opportunity to try the Shure SRH440 headphones. Although it appears a bit bulky at first appearance, the set folds up to a relatively compact size for travel and proved fairly comfortable to wear for prolonged periods of time. The sound, while quite good, was not as good as the top end of the Shure earphone line, but compared favorably to the lower end of the line. I found the SRH440 available online for between $80 and $100.Shure’s $49.99 Music Phone Adapter converts any Shure earphones to a stereo mobile phone headset; it makes an excellent gift for someone who already has a set of Shure earphones.Bowers & Wilkins ( www.bowers-wilkins.com) makes one of my favorite on-ear headsets: the P5 ($299.95), a small, lightweight set that packs into an included padded case and takes up relatively little room in your bag. The headphones feel very light and comfortable on your head and work well for long-term use. The P5 includes a microphone, so that you can use it with your cell phone to handle calls as well as music. The P5 is quite responsive and has a very good sound range. The only weakness I found in the headset was the bass reproduction. While certainly adequate, it was not as deep or strong as I like. Notwithstanding the bass response, I liked the headset quite a bit, especially for travel.The newest player in my list of earphones and headphones comes from a well- established company, with a Monster for a name. Monster has released a line of earphones and headphones under the name “Beats by Dr. Dre” ( http://beatsbydre.com), and I found it very impressive. The Beats by Dr. Dre Tour in-ear model includes “ControlTalk,” enabling you to control your music and use the Tour for telephony as well. The Tour lists for $189.95. Instead of the very thin and relatively fragile wires regularly used in the construction of most earphones, Monster built the Tour with a cable about the size of a standard shoelace, making it stronger and much less susceptible to damage. The earphones fit comfortably into your ears and provide strong, clear sound. The Tour uses a sound-isolation technology to minimize interference from outside noise.The Beats by Dr. Dre Solo headphones ($199.95) fit nicely on the ear, proved very responsive, and provide a very solid bass. They are relatively lightweight, although not nearly so light as the Bowers & Wilkins P5. The Solo also uses a much stronger wiring cable than many headsets. They fold up neatly for travel and fit nicely into an included padded soft-shell case.The Beats by Dr. Dre Studio headphones ($349.95) fit over the ear rather than on it. The larger cups encompassing the ear help create the fullness of the sound and isolate you from background noise. The Studio does, however, include a powered noise-cancellation system that works very well. The Studio headphones proved highly responsive (the most responsive of the headphones I tried) and had an excellent bass response as well as a strong high and midrange response. The Studio headset also folds up and fits into an included hard-shell travel case. The case has a relatively small footprint, but substantial thickness. It also has a carabiner-style clip to allow you to attach it to a handle or strap on your bag, in case you do not have room for it in your bag. The studio comes with two sets of cables, one including the ControlTalk microphone and the other without it, so you can use the first cable with a cell phone for telephony, and with the second cable the Studio works simply as an audio headset. All in all, a great choice for a gift.Bose ( www.bose.com) built a reputation for high-end engineered sound devices. For a number of years, Bose has also had a line of noise-canceling headsets. Their QuietComfort 3 (QC3; $349.95) and QuietComfort 15 (QC15; $299.95) have been available for a few years. Although not new, they represent solid technology and work very well. The QC15 earpieces fit over the ear. The QC3 has smaller earpieces that sit on the ear but do not engulf it. The QC3 comes with a rechargeable battery that lasts up to 25 hours per charge cycle. The QC15 uses AAA batteries for power and gets about 35 hours per set of batteries. Both headphones provide excellent audio quality. Both come with a protective case. Both substantially reduce outside noise levels, such as airplane noise, although not as well as the sound-isolating earphones.Bose also offers a very good quality set of acoustic headphones without noise-cancellation technology. The Bose On-Ear headphones list for $179.95. I found them quite satisfactory but would have preferred a bit more depth in bass. They are very lightweight, and I found them very comfortable for use several hours at a time. They come with a semi-hard shell case for protecting the earphones during travel.Bose recently upgraded its earphone line to include the IE2 ($99.95) and the MIE2 ($129.95). The IE2 is a very good quality in-ear device that does not go as far into the ear canal as the earphones using sound-isolation technology. They are less likely to irritate the ear but do not provide the same purity as the sound-isolation technology. They have an odd-looking extension that fits into the bowl of the ear to help provide stability and prevent the earphone from falling out. Fit is important to make that feature work well. The IE2 gives you very good quality sound and represents a nice upgrade from the earphones included with most music players (including the Apple products). The MIE2 provides the same sound quality as the IE2 but adds a microphone to provide you with telephone capability as well.
Wireless sets.The wireless headset industry has standardized on Bluetooth technology. Over the last few years, Bluetooth headsets have shown significant improvement, evidenced by better reception, better-quality sound transmission, and longer-lived battery charges.A good Bluetooth headset makes a fine gift and a useful acquisition for yourself. You have a choice of many options in terms of high-quality Bluetooth headsets. My current favorites come from Aliph, Plantronics, and Jabra. Aliph ( www.jawbone.com) calls the newest and hottest offering in its Jawbone line the ICON ($99.99), Plantronics ( www.plantronics.com) calls its top of the line the Discovery 975 ($129.99), and Jabra ( www.jabra.com) calls its top offering the Stone ($129.99). All have noise-reduction technology, all work well with every Bluetooth phone I paired them to, and all do an excellent job. That said, in my experience, wired earphones work better in terms of your ability to hear the person on the other end of the line when you are in a noisy environment. I have not had that problem when using Bluetooth headsets in quieter environments. I often carry both a wireless and a wired earphone set to accommodate a problem environment.I have found some Bluetooth stereo headsets that I like, such as Jabra’s Halo ($129.99) and Motorola’s MOTOROKR S9 ($69.95; www.motorola.com). The latter is also available as the upgraded S9-HD ($149.99). The S9 and S9-HD look almost identical. They are lightweight and both function very well, handling music and telephony. Both have proven very responsive, with the S9-HD showing better responsiveness and sharpness than the S9.
The gift of media.At Apple’s iTunes store ( www.apple.com/itunes) you can get gift cards that let the recipients purchase any type of media for sale there. They can use the card for music, books, movies, or television shows to add to their collection for playing on their iPad, iPod, or iPhone. The cards also work for the purchase of apps for sale in the iTunes Store. As you probably know from the ads, you can get apps for darn near everything. Some apps come free of charge, and others come at prices ranging from nominal ($0.99) to considerably more expensive (I have seen apps as high as $119.99). The apps provide additional functionality for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad ranging from games, to productivity, to note-taking, to e-book readers, to social networking, to full GPS (global positioning system) navigational devices with turn-by-turn directions. Giving the gift of media allows your recipients to apply your generosity to something they select for themselves.For travelers seeking to travel light, using their iPhone as a GPS device can avoid the need to carry a separate, dedicated device. Many of the major manufacturers of GPS devices (NAVIGON, Magellan, TomTom) offer apps to bring the functionality of their stand-alone devices to the iPhone and related devices. I have tried the GPS apps from these manufacturers and they all work very well, although not always consistently with each other. I always find it interesting that GPS devices do not all select the same route, even given the same parameters or options. Nevertheless, they all do seem to get you to the desired destination. I have traveled with the iPhone as my GPS device to many destinations without any issue.A word to the wise: If you plan to use an iPhone as a GPS device, get a holder that will attach the iPhone to the windshield so that it can receive the satellite signal and you can see the display hands-free. Both Magellan and TomTom make iPhone holders that mount to the windshield. Both have GPS receivers built-in, which function better than the iPhone’s receiver. The inclusion of the GPS chip also means that you can use an iPod touch as a GPS device on the road.
Speaker systems.You have many options if you want to connect your iPod or iPhone to a larger speaker system. The folks at Boston Acoustics ( www.bostonacoustics.com) make a shielded unit that works with both the iPod and the iPhone, providing a very nice speaker system for them as well as converting them into an alarm clock with a dual alarm feature. The $249.99 list-price Duo-i plus is just the right size to put on a nightstand by your bed. The Duo-i plus produces excellent sound at lower to midrange volume, with good clarity and a deep bass. The speakers have 100 watts of power to give you plenty of range. Don’t try to blast the neighbors with it, though, as when you crank the volume to a very high level it distorts the bass somewhat. Unless you sleep very soundly, you won’t find any need to crank the sound up high enough to distort the bass in normal usage. The Duo-i plus also comes with a built-in AM/FM tuner. The LCD display adjusts automatically to the lighting in the room. Although Boston Acoustics designed the Duo-i plus to work with the iPhone and the iPod, connections for other devices are included as well.If you want to crank the volume up a bit more, check out the Boston Acoustics i-DS3 plus ($499.99). The i-DS3 plus speaker system generates 100 watts, but it also comes with a 50-watt wireless down-firing subwoofer to beef up the bass considerably. The i-DS3 plus does not have the alarm or AM/FM features of the Duo-i plus, but it produces a broader, cleaner sound with a more profound bass. The i-DS3 plus works well as an office sound system or as a speaker system in your den or home office. Like the Duo-i plus, the i-DS3 plus has a built-in universal Apple iPod dock as well as line-in connections for other music-playing devices.Both of these offerings feature excellent sound quality without a lot of frills. A bit on the pricey side, given the feature set, particularly so for the i-DS3 plus, but, to my ear, the sound justifies the price.Speaking of speakers, you may want to add a set of speakers to your computer or beef up the sound on your laptop. If so, have I found some speakers for you.Bowers & Wilkins’ MM-1 computer speakers ($499.95) produce some of the best sound I have heard from a small set of computer speakers. The sound is clear, rich, and crisp. The system does not include a subwoofer, but I don’t think you really need one with these speakers. The speakers work well with both Windows and Mac OS computers and make an excellent addition to any computer system. Although they are relatively diminutive in size, they do not come with a carrying case, and I would not think of them as speakers to carry around with you; rather, think of them as providing high-fidelity sound for your desktop or laptop computer in a stationary location.If you want a less expensive set of speakers for your computer, check out the Bose Computer MusicMonitor ($399.95). Very small, very powerful, and with very clean sound, they come with a case to enhance their portability. Bose also makes a slightly larger and somewhat less expensive set of computer speakers, the $99.95 Companion 2. The Companion 2 gives you a very competent sound system at a very reasonable price but does not generate the sound quality of either the Bose MusicMonitor or the Bowers & Wilkins MM-1.If you have a MacBook or a MacBook Pro, the folks at Twelve South have something special for you. Their $79.99 BassJump is a USB-powered subwoofer designed for the MacBook (it also works well with the MacBook Pro). It makes a noticeable difference in the sound generated by the laptop, particularly on the bass end. The BassJump comes with a nicely padded, soft-sided case. The BassJump adds a noticeable amount of weight to your bag unless, of course, you are clever enough to have bought luggage with wheels. The BassJump requires that you download software and add it to your laptop, but the software costs nothing (or you could consider it included in the price of the hardware).
Gifting with a theme.Those of you who celebrate the holidays with multiple gifts to loved ones, consider the iPad, iPhone, or iPod as a primary gift with accessories as smaller, less-expensive, secondary gifts. For example, let’s say you needed eight gifts for someone for Hanukkah. To fill your quota and keep a theme, you might give an iPad, a Bluetooth keyboard, an iPad stand, an iPad case, a screen protector and privacy screen, an iPad bag or carrying case, and a nice headset or set of earphones. If you want to do the 12 days of Christmas without figuring out where to plant the pear tree or what to do with the partridge after New Year’s Day or how to feed all those leaping lords (you could start with the partridge roasted in a pear sauce, but then where do you go—one partridge won’t feed many lords . . .), you can take that same collection of eight and add the camera connection kit, a DC charger, an external speaker system, and an iTunes gift card to enable your recipient to purchase media content at the iTunes store. In fact, if you really want to make your shopping easier, you could just go to Costco and buy the iTunes Store gift card packs and give them out. Costco sells four $15 iTunes gift cards in a pack for $55.99. Anyway, I won’t belabor the point; you get the idea.
Hands-Free Office Telephony
I Dictate, Therefore I Am!
Big Images from Small Projectors
Travel in the Green
HAPPY SHOPPING!!HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!
- Jeffrey Allen is the principal in the small law firm of Graves & Allen in Oakland, California, with a general practice that, since 1973, has emphasized negotiation, structuring, and documentation of real estate acquisitions, loans, and other business transactions, receiverships, related litigation, and bankruptcy. He also works extensively as an arbitrator and a mediator. He serves as the editor of the Technology eReport and the Technology & Practice Guide issues of GPSolo magazine. He is also a member of the ABA Journal Board of Editors. He regularly presents at substantive law and technology-oriented programs for attorneys and writes for several legal trade magazines. In addition to being licensed as an attorney in California, he has been admitted as a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales. He holds faculty positions at California State University of the East Bay and the University of Phoenix. You may contact him via e-mail at email@example.com. Jeffrey Allen blogs on technology and the practice of law at www.jallenlawtekblog.com . Copyright 2010