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Gadgets & Gizmos

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Tough gadgets to protect your digital devices and data

Our lives are so dependent on digital devices that at times you can feel really vulnerable. Do you have lots of videos, photos or important documents stored on a hard drive? Are you worried about losing it all? How about your smartphone, laptop or iPad? They feel so fragile that it seems if you dropped them just once it would be game-over. Luckily there are some manufacturers making products to give your digital devices a thicker skin and some toughness.

For your iPad or laptop

pro-2254-4451a-adj-1_300x180.jpgEarlier this month I told you about the G-Form Extreme Sleeve products, designed to protect laptops and iPads in abusive situations. My review included a video from G-Form, showing a MacBook Pro being dropped from a seconds-story staircase onto a dirt road. Now a Canadian mobile tech site,, has upped the ante by making a video showing an iPad 2 in an Extreme Sleeve surviving several drops on hard pavement. But wait, it gets better. They also drive over the iPad with a car. I don't want to spoil it for you, so watch the video.


For your data

At the International Consumer Electronics Show this year, I watched portable hard drives from ioSafe get peppered with shotgun blasts and still survive. They also were submerged in water and crushed with a vice but remained unscathed. In fact, the only way to kill one of their drives was to put a round from an M16 right through the middle of the drive. Watch the video below to see me make that shot.

solopro.pngNow you typically won't need hard drives that will survive gun blasts, but it would be nice to have one that could survive in the event of a flood or fire. In addition to their Rugged Portable drives, ioSafe also has the SoloPRO line of desktop drives that are waterproof and fireproof, with some limitations. Available in both USB 3.0 and eSATA versions, these drives protect against data loss at temperatures up to 1550° F for 30 minutes (per ASTM E119) and can be submerged to a depth of 10 feet for up to three days without data loss. And to sweeten the deal, they include a data recovery service just in case something goes wrong. The SoloPRO drive is now available in a 3-terabyte size which is rated to hold 1,500 hours of DVD-quality video, 45,000 hours of digital music or more than 500,000 digital photos.


For your smartphone

apl2-ipad2-d9.jpgThere are lots of options when selecting a case for your smartphone, but none I've seen can protect your phone as well as the OtterBox Defender Series of cases. Made from high-impact polycarbonate surrounded by impact-absorbing silicone, these cases put your phone in a protective cocoon that can survive the drops and knocks of daily living. Otter Box now has Defender Series cases for the iPad 2 as well. The phone cases are great but they do add a considerable amount of bulk, so if you like to keep your phone in your pocket the OtterBox is probably not for you.

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 17, 2011 11:53am]


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