Neat accessories for giving and getting

3 Dec

As the smitten owner of a new iPhone 5, I’ve burned a few hours lately browsing for gadgets and accessories to enhance the smartphone experience.

There’s a wealth of cool devices out there, and I want them all. In fact, I plan to write in-depth reviews about some of these in future columns. But for now, just in time for Christmas, some brief introductions to the fabulous world of iPhone (and in some cases iPad and Android) accessories.

These items are available at thinkgeek.com and photojojo.com, and it’s not too late to order in time for Christmas giving and receiving (you can also opt for air mail). All prices shown are in U.S. dollars.

Touch Screen Gloves

Smartphones are brilliant devices but try answering one while wearing gloves and they’re not so intelligent at all. If there is no direct contact between your skin and the touch screen, you can’t respond to that call or text. The Agloves Touch Screen Gloves are made from conductive fibers – actual threads of silver wrapped around nylon fiber – that transmit electrical impulses from the body through the fabric and onto the screen itself. Available for $20 from thinkgeek.com.

iCade Mobile

The iPhone was designed to do many things, but serious gaming isn’t one of them. The physical shape of the phone doesn’t lend itself to extended gaming sessions and you can’t see half the action because your fingers are blocking the touch screen, working the controls. The iCade Mobile resolves that issue in fine style. It’s a cradle into which you snap the iPhone (or iPod Touch), allowing you to control games with an array of external buttons. You connect via Bluetooth and the phone swivels easily, from horizontal to vertical orientation. Essentially it makes the iPhone bigger, enabling greater balance and control for games with tilt action. Even better, iCade is also an app developer with more than 100 titles available on iTunes, including modern and retro arcade games. This one is sold out at thinkgeek.com, but if you keep an eye on the site, they may get restocked in time for Christmas.

iCADE iPad arcade cabinet

iPad Arcade Cabinet

This one is built exclusively for iPad but it’s so cool, I just had to share. In fact, it’s reason enough to buy an iPad if you don’t already own one. This product, also by iCade, was developed to take the iPad to “the next level” by creating a realistic simulation of the old-fashioned arcade game. You slide the iPad into the cabinet, it connects via Bluetooth, and suddenly you’re playing retro games like Asteroids, Centipede, Battlezone, Pac Man and 500 more, brought realistically to life with the joystick and other button controls. The games – including many classics by Atari – are sold separately at the app store, but they’re typically cheap. The Arcade is $70 at thinkgeek.com.

19 LiveAction Mic 156

iPhone Boom Mic

What’s the biggest problem with those homemade videos you see online? The image quality on most smartphones is great, but the audio is still weak and easily thrown off by ambient sound, distance from camera, and so on. According to the sales pitch, the iPhone Boom Mic delivers better quality audio recordings than your built-in microphone, and even has a directional setting that allows you to isolate your subject and reduce background noise. It takes one AAA battery, attaches to your phone’s headphone jack and is compatible with iPods, iPhones, iPads and Android phones and tablets. Price is $40 at photojojo.com.

Camera lenses

I’ve written previously about the Olloclip, a set of three compact lenses that clip snugly onto the iPhone. Based on online image galleries, the wide angle, fisheye and macro lenses work exceptionally well. Now, there’s a competing product at photojojo that targets Olloclip’s weakness of fitting only one kind of phone (the Olloclip for iPhone 4S will not work on the iPhone 5). The photojojo product fits all kinds of phones and tablets, even with a case. It also goes one better by offering a telephoto lens. And the photojojo is cheaper, at $50 for the set compared to $70 for the Olloclip (at olloclip.com). However, sample images at the online galleries don’t seem as impressive as the Olloclip. I will offer a review of both sets of lenses in the new year.

Geoff Meeker is a communications consultant with a soft spot for technology. He also writes a blog about the local media scene, which is hosted at http://www.thetelegram.com.

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