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Put these gifts under the techie’s tree

By Gregg Ellman
Twitter.com/greggellman
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/12/09/08/44/llhCn.Em.138.jpeg|316
    - BELKIN
    Using your phone’s Bluetooth connection, the Belkin HD Bluetooth Music Receiver lets you play your smartphone’s audio through your stereo system or stand-alone speakers. (Belkin/MCT)
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/12/05/16/50/DiTle.Em.138.jpeg|316
    Handout - MCT
    The WhiteLabel SoundDew water-resistant Bluetooth speaker is music-friendly at home, work or play. (WhiteLabel/MCT)
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/12/05/16/50/1vMHCL.Em.138.jpeg|316
    - SHARPER IMAGE
    Add 10x optical zoom to Apple’s 4 and 4S smartphones with the iPhone Telephoto Lens.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/12/05/16/50/vzPN7.Em.138.jpeg|214
    Handout - MCT
    Garmin has entered the field of rugged action photography cameras with the recent launch of the VIRB HD. (Garmin/MCT)

More Information

  • Getting it up and running

    • For basic information about setting up a new device, visit the manufacturer’s website and look for a support tab. Many times you can have a live online chat with a technician.

    • Read customer reviews. You might find tips and workarounds for common problems.

    • Online bulletin boards also offer solutions for many headaches that come along with setup. Be as specific as possible when doing an online search. One example is “How to download apps on a (name your brand) tablet?



It’s the gadgets that seem to make everyone’s eyes open a little wider these days. That makes it easier to find gifts that would suit the people on your list.

These are some of our favorites for the season. Don’t be surprised if catch your grade schooler working out a trade with one of the grandparents.

No built-in Bluetooth? No problem, if you’ve got the Belkin HD Bluetooth music receiver. It may be the right gift for those who want to hold onto an older stereo or TV.

The HD receiver brings your systems that predate smart technology together with an iOS or Android-based devices. You can stream audio from your smartphone.

Plug the HD receiver into your existing machine with the included cables (3.5mm to RCA and coaxial HD Audio cables) and pair the receiver with your Bluetooth device. The pairing is done with a simple tap of your device to the new receiver.

For users of Android 4.0 or 4.0.1, you’ll need the free Belkin BT app for the tap-and-play feature.

From there the receiver allows your hand-held media player to send audio files you have stored on it to the existing speaker systems. Up to eight devices and can be stored in the receiver. $59.99 at www.belkin.com.

If you miss too many calls because you can’t find your smartphone or can’t hear the ringer, the Phone Bungee might be the right solution. It also keeps the phone from sliding out of your pocket where it could get damaged, lost or wet. Slide the plastic harness over your phone, then clip it to a belt or the outside of a backpack or purse. Use it with or without a phone case. At just $10, it makes an affordable stocking stuffer. www.containerstore.com.

Garmin has entered the field of rugged action photography cameras with the launch of the VIRB HD.

The camera is built with an aerodynamic design in a waterproof body, enabling users to run the camera without purchasing extra housings for extreme weather.

Videos are captured in formats up to 1080p HD, and a 1.4-inch Chroma color display helps in composing your recordings or for playback.

The VIRB can take 16 megapixel still photos even while recording video. Both formats are stored on your microSD memory card. Still image features include time lapse and burst modes.

Ports include HDMI output and USB 2.0. There’s an internal microphone, and the 2000mAh Li-ion battery for up to three hours of HD recording. The camera measures about 1.25-by-2-by-4.3-inches and weighs just 1.4 pounds. $299.99 at www.garmin.com.

Smartphone cameras have limitations when it comes to capturing photos and videos from a distance. Add 10x optical zoom to Apple’s 4 and 4S smartphones with the iPhone Telephoto Lens. Place the phone into the plastic case, which includes a threaded mount. You also get a tabletop tripod for more stable images. $39.99 at www.sharperimage.com.

Consider the WhiteLabel SoundDew water-resistant Bluetooth speaker when you want a gift that’s durable and practical. What makes this speaker waterproof and somewhat indestructible is an internal protective water- and dirt-resistant housing encased with a rubberized outside shell.

A hook on the speaker lets you hang it from a belt, backpack, purse or handlebars. The sound quality from the 3-inch speaker is impressive.

A 3.5mm aux-in lets you plug in non-Bluetooth devices for listening, and the built-in mic lets it work as a handsfree speaker phone.

$49.99, available in blue, black, khaki and red; www.whitelabel.co/SoundDew.html

The PlanOn PrintStik PS905ME mobile printer measures just 11-by-2-by-2 inches, making it easy to store in a backpack. Use it to print boarding passes, movie tickets or anything you have to have on paper right there and then.

It’s designed to be cable-free and connects to your smartphone or tablet with Bluetooth but can also connect with the included USB cable. Power is supplied by the built-in rechargeable lithium-Polymer batter.

Paper is stored on a 20-sheet roll cartridge (one included) and the whole setup is stored in a nylon zipper case. $299 for the printer and three 20-page print cartridges at www.planon.com.

The 12-in-1 Survival Tool is for the person who likes to stay prepared for an emergency. It’s got a panic alarm, LED flashlight, digital FM radio, motion activated security alarm, red emergency flasher, cell phone charger, AC charging adapter input, compass, hand crank charger, signal mirror, thermometer and lanyard. $40 at www.sharperimage.com.

Staff writer Karen Sullivan contributed.

More SmarterLiving at www.charlotteobserver.com/smarterliving
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