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The thunder animation that greets users upon powering up Verizon’s HTC ThunderBolt suggests this is not just another iPhone wannabe. And it’s not. With fast Internet speeds at 4G, the device sports a crisper screen resolution than some other Android phones I’ve seen, and more intuitive controls overall. Customization options are so plentiful, it’s nearly obscene. Having a front-facing camera is a welcome convenience, as is a built-in kickstand. Yes, it’s pricey, but signing a two-year service contract gets the cost down to $249.99.
RingO Universal iPad Mounting System
Neither a Japanese horror prequel nor named after the least-loved Beatle, the RingO is a rather nifty way to get more out of your iPad. The plastic product is deceptively simple: a back-facing sleeve with a hole in the middle, and a mount to fill that hole. This allows you to “hang” your device on the wall, perhaps as a jukebox in the living room or as a TV in the bedroom. The fit is snug, and when it’s mounted, it’s there to stay, so plan ahead. You may even want to buy more than one to take it from room to room. (For $10 more, you can get a RingO with a table stand, too, which proves handy for kitchen cooks.) Perhaps coolest of all, Vogel’s invented the free WallTimes app for RingO use, transforming your iPad into a handy, multifunction clock.
Wicked Chill Headphones
For a product that calls itself “Wicked,” these headphones are not. Their design is appealing — alternative, without being too Ed Hardy — but the sound they offer is less than ideal, echoing your mother’s maxim of “You get what you pay for.” Although nicely lightweight, they feel too flimsy to survive long. If you don’t want to plunk down $200 for a solid set of headphones — we’re still crazy about the V-Moda Crossfade model — I suppose the Wicked Chill would do until you could. And if you must, at least you get to choose between white, gold and black.
AViiQ Portable Quick Stand
Attention, laptop owners who take up all the tables at Starbucks: You could use a stand for that MacBook, no? The AViiQ Portable Quick Stand comes flat, and folds into a triangle in no time at all to prop up that piece of equipment. Although it takes some getting used to typing at its 12-degree angle, you’ll find your wrists thanking you. The company reports the Quick Stand helps improve battery life by letting hot air dissipate, but couldn’t an empty paper towel tube do the same thing? Absolutely, but it doesn’t look as snazzy for the business traveler (nor do the cardboard cylinders come in chartreuse or magenta).
Absolutely nobody needs an iPig, but what tech-friendly family wouldn’t want one? Available in four colors (pink and white are cute; yellow and black, creepy), the iPig doubles as an iPod/iPhone charging station and speakers. Five speakers are hidden about the oinker for best possible sound quality, making it ideal for parties. Trust me: It gets loud. The iPig — we call ours Mixx Piggy — also is connectable to TV sets and gaming consoles, but let’s not tell that to the kids, dear.
Booq Mamba Shift
Admit it: The Booq Mamba Shift sounds terrifying, conjuring images of poisonous snakes or a particularly difficult dance move that could snap a hip in two. Instead, it’s just an intimidating name for a backpack — and one that may be my favorite thing since, oh, oxygen. Although it looks huge, it’s surprisingly lightweight. Unlike everyday carriers, it retains its shape. One compartment is designed — and thus heavily cushioned — for a laptop or tablet device, leaving plenty of room in the main compartment and all its separate pockets, nooks and crannies for everything else. There’s even a removable zipper pouch for cords, pens and whatnot. The shoulder straps are super-comfy, and even have hiding places within them for smartphones. Perhaps best of all, should you ever get separated from your new best friend, each Mamba Shift has a unique serial number for tracking. This is one backpack that: a) won’t make you look like a nerd, b) sure beats a boring briefcase, and c) is worth every penny.