Hillcrest Labs Loop Pointer
Sitting at your PC can be an anti-social affair. Often you’re stuck upstairs in the spare room while everyone else is downstairs in the living room. Even if you have a laptop it’s not easy for everyone to gather round and share the experience in comfort. Although you can buy cable to connect PCs to most modern TVs you still have to stand or sit next to it to operate it. I like Hillcrest Labs’ solution. Its Loop Pointer is a ‘freespace’ mouse that controls an on-screen cursor for your PC or Mac. It works a bit like a Nintendo Wii remote in that it uses motion sensors that respond to your arm and wrist movements.
All you need to do is plug the USB 20 Transceiver into your PC and your PC into the TV and retire to the comfort of your sofa. The Loop’s wheel-like shape is very ergonomic and with just four buttons and a scroll wheel it isn’t complicated to use. Now you can browse Flickr, edit your last shoot, run a slideshow or even browse this very website from your favourite chair, perhaps with the whole family gathered round too. And its only US$99 from their website at www.hillcrestlabs.com/loop.
GoPro HD Hero Naked
I don’t plan on jumping out of a plane with a parachute anytime soon but if I did I’d want one of these stuck to my helmet. I hadn’t come across GoPro before. Their tiny digital stills/video cameras are designed for action men and women who want to record their adrenaline-fueled activities, with kit options designed to fit them onto helmets, surfboards or cars.
Their new model, the HD Hero Naked is a ‘wearable’ full 1080p HD video camera that comes with a protective housing that’s waterproof down to 60m, and a mount, plus charger and cables. It can also shoot 5MP stills and features an intervalometer which can be set to take pictures at intervals from 2 to 60 secs. You can buy it for ¢259 from the GoPro website at www.gopro.com
Clickfree Automated Back-Up
Clickfree is a company that produces automated back-up software on a variety of platforms. They do their own back-up hard drives, of course, but also sell SD cards of up to 32GB with the software on it, and even a small transformer cable that goes between your PC and existing hard drive to turn that into a Clickfree back-up device. Whichever you choose, the software is completely automated so that it backs up everything on your PC, or Mac, without you having to do anything.
New at CES are two network products – the Transformer NE and C2N portable hard drive – designed to back up multiple PCs. All you have to do is plug the device into each of your networked PCs once, then leave permanently in one of them. The devices will then find the other PCs automatically and back them up. More info at www.clickfree.com
Kodak Pulse Digital Photo Frame
Digital Photo Frames are very popular at the moment and I’m a big fan. They’re great for people like me who can never decide which of our many fabulous photos to frame – you can just show them all, on a continuous loop. I’ve got one on a loop at home loaded with pictures of my kids going back ten years.
Kodak has just brought some interesting innovation to the sector with its new Pulse frame. The Pulse is a touch screen frame with wi-fi connectivity and a personal email address so that users and their friends can email photos to the frame from their PCs, mobile phones and websites like Facebook, Flickr and the Kodak Gallery. The frame can also be connected up with your online photo albums at Facebook et al, so that when new photos are added they automatically update on your frame. The seven inch Pulse will retail for £109.99, from April. More details at www.kodak.com
Powermat phone chargers
Now I’m not saying that plugging your camera phone into its charger is taxing or challenging in any way, but for whatever reason, people (and I include myself here) find themselves with a dead phone surprisingly often. Well charging doesn’t get much easier than the Powermat because all you have to do is sit your phone on top of the mat and it charges it for you, wirelessly. What’s more, the same mat can charge multiple phones of different brands, whatever the type of charger port it has. You can get mats that charge one device at a time, or two, or three. Of course you do have to fit your phone with either a special Powermat case or battery so that it can communicate with the mat, but they have one for most popular phones and, once fitted, it’s goodbye to the hassle of trying to find which of the multiple chargers on your desk is the one for your camera phone. More info at www.powermat.com
Lexar Echo ZE portable USB drive
I’m all for miniaturization but there becomes a point where it gets ridiculous. Lexar has clearly taken a ‘because we can’ approach in the design of their Echo ZE portable USB drive. It can hold up to 32GB of data, and perform automatic back-ups, yet it’s so small that it’s barely bigger than the bit that goes into your PC.
Okay, I admit I can see the benefit. I often use my laptop on the train and whenever I insert a USB stick I worry that some oaf if going to amble into it and snap it off, possibly damaging my laptop. Since the Echo ZE protrudes less than a centimetre when its plugged in, you can leave it in all the time. The problem starts when you take it out and put it down somewhere, then need a magnifying glass or a metal detector to find it again!
If you find the Echo ZE just too small for your spade-like hands, there is also a slightly larger SE version with capacities up to 64GB. More info at www.lexar.com/echo