I'm a tech geek and nothing gets me as excited as stumbling upon a new gadget. I'm interested in just about anything cool that has an on/off switch, decent battery life and provides a practical utility. If there's no practical use for it, then it has to at the very least be fun (for me or my kids!).
To me, finding the latest, greatest tech gadget is almost as big a discovery as finding the Dead Sea Scrolls in a cave. The three techie toys that I've been playing with lately have led me to question how I ever lived without them. These devices include a pocket LED projector (cool), a portable Bluetooth keyboard for up to three separate devices (practical) and a what is being called "a remote controlled car for the Smartphone Age" (fun). Let's start with fun!
My kids love remote controlled cars, remote controlled boat and remote controlled helicopters and planes, but they really went crazy when they tried out Ollie. Most of the remote controlled toys that can be navigated via a mobile app on a Smartphone tend to get damaged because they are difficult to control and run into walls or just can't handle the jumps and tricks. Ollie is one tough little robot though.
Shaped like a small cylinder (about the size of a coffee mug), you can use either an iPhone or Android device to race, spin and tumble Ollie. I tried it out on a golf course because of the varied terrain and it was a lot of fun once I figured out how to unlock the different tricks and moves. The looks on golfers' faces when they saw this little speed robot racing around the course was pretty funny (I was controlling it from about 30 yards away).
Ollie has interchangeable tires and hubcaps for different terrain. The body features LED lights with millions of colors, a 30 meter Bluetooth range and the ability to reach speeds of over 14 miles/hour. The feature that teens will really like (it's recommended for 8+) is the Connected Play capability. Users can race their Ollie against other devices and get points for more intricate maneuvers and tricks. The battery life runs for about an hour and there are automatic firmware updates to keep Ollie from collecting dust in the closet. It will retail for $100 when it begins selling in stores on September 15.
Pocket Projector Pro--200 Lumens (Brookstone)
I've been a fan of Brookstone's LED projector for quite some time now and I'm finding myself recommending it to others all the time. It's light weight but powerful beyond belief. I've used it on my travels to show a presentation during a lecture and then brought it back to my hotel to cast a movie on the wall of my room. It's ideal for watching sporting events in the basement with large groups also because the 200 lumens light produces a great quality picture that only expensive LCD or plasma televisions can replicate.
The ED lamp project can project images up to 100 feet diagonal and lasts up to 20,000 hours. The device is so small (4.8" x 4.75" x 1") that it's really easy to just throw in a briefcase or suitcase. Unlike less powerful projectors, Pocket Projector Pro doesn't require a dark setting. The projector connects with a HDMI cable to most Smartphones, tablets, computers, video players and cameras. It will accept up to 1080p HD input and it will project 60" images just 6 feet from screen making it perfect for classrooms. It also comes with 2 built-in speakers and an adjustable focus wheel. I've impressed guests this summer by showing movies in the backyard at night. The only thing it doesn't do is make the popcorn. The projector retails for $449.99, but a less powerful 95 lumens versions sells for $313.13.
Bluetooth Multi-Device Keyboard k480 (Logitech)
When I travel I don't always want to take a heavy laptop and sometimes I don't feel like taking out my Cromebook just to shoot off a few emails before boarding my flight. So, I've been searching for a portable keyboard that will connect to a few of my mobile devices. Before getting the k480 I had to make sure I was grabbing the right portable keyboard for the mobile device I had with me. The k480 keyboard from Logitech lets you switch between three different Bluetooth connected devices. That means I can use this keyboard for my computer, phone and tablet, but I can also have it connected automatically to someone else's phone or tablet (ideal for when one of my kids is doing homework on an iPad and needs to type).
The k480 is the first keyboard designed for use with all major operating systems -- Windows, Mac or Chrome OS computer, Android or iOS tablet or Smartphone. The idea behind it is simple -- "You aren't limited to a single device so why should your keyboard be?" It's a simple process to pair the keyboard to the devices using Bluetooth which means that the setup only takes a minute. One of the features I like is the screenshot button on the keyboard which lets you quickly download an image of whatever you see on the screen. It's easy to grab a screenshot from one device and then quickly move it over to the other connected device. The k480 keyboard comes in both white and black. It sells for $50.