Looking for some high-tech fun this summer? We've got the gadgets for you.
Jonathan Takiff, Philadelphia Daily News
Here's a theory: Putting reading material on a high-tech device makes the contents more appealing. Try it out on the $20 (discounted) game cartridge called 100 Classic Books, the healthiest distraction of the season for the Nintendo DS portable video game system.
Most titles are staples of summer reading lists — A Tale of Two Cities, The Call of The Wild and the like. An on-screen quiz matches you to a selection. Go online (via the DS WiFi link) and see which titles are most popular with other readers. As with bigger e-readers, you swipe or tap a DS's dual screens (held vertically, like an open book) with a stylus or finger to fly through the pages, insert an electronic bookmark or browse titles.
Want a bottomless library? Prices have just dropped for two full-fledged e-readers: $149 buys a Barnes & Noble Nook with WiFi connectivity to the book store; and $189 nabs an Amazon Kindle with almost-anywhere store connectivity via 3G mobile phone service.
Dyson Air Multipliers are expensive, starting at $300. But these bladeless fans are quiet and safe, with no accessible spinning parts that could take a curious kid's finger off. Air Multipliers have a hidden fan whirling in the enclosed, vented base. Just introduced, $499 floor-standing pedestal and tower models look like works of art.
Start me up
Don't you hate how long it takes for the charcoal to get hot enough to barbecue? If you have a Looftlighter, you can get that party started in seconds — and without pouring on the noxious lighter fluid.
This $79.95, Swedish-designed device blows out air so hot it will ignite wood or coal after just 15 seconds. Five more minutes of continued Looftlighter application produces the white coals needed to throw on the goodies. Available at amazon.com.
Music, music everywhere
The compact, battery-operated Digital FM Stereo Transmitter from ccrane.com ($69.95) turns any audio source (with a headphone-style "mini" output jack) into a miniature radio station for reception on all nearby devices equipped with an FM radio tuner. The full-bodied output signal can be adjusted to any open frequency and beams at least 100 feet across the house, yard or beach in all directions.
The folks at Flip Video have come out with a $50 Underwater Case designed to take the second-generation Flip Ultra and Flip Ultra HD camcorders to depths up to 30 feet.
The most important thing when using this or any underwater camera case? Don't even think of opening it unless you're indoors in a clean, dry environment.
And inspect and clean the case carefully. A single hair or grain of sand on the rubber edge trim breaks the seal, allowing water in. Fortunately, Flip cameras easily hold a battery charge for a week or two. And playback on the Flip screen can be enjoyed without opening the clear-bodied plastic case.
Starting from scratch? Consider the high-definition, waterproof Kodak PlaySport Zx3 camcorder ($129-$149), reasonably rugged and with image stabilization and face-tracking features not found on Flips.
Available in several colors and rated for plunging 10 feet into the pool.