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7/12/2014
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Tech Toys For Summer Fun

From sterilizing your drinking water to entertaining the kids, these tech tools and apps can help make your summer adventures the best yet.
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In years past, summer has meant long, lazy days spent with family and friends, ideally away from work, school, and other routines. These days, summer still finds most of us relaxing with the family, but we travel more -- and when we do, we take along the latest great technology.

Summer technology might sound like an oxymoron, but tech can make your summer better. After all, tech is still out there doing its thing even when the sun is shining at 8:30 p.m. Why not take advantage of it?

I looked at a range of tech products that can enhance your summer fun. Some let you to do something you couldn't do before, or at least make an activity better, safer, or more fun. SwingSmart Duo, a clip-on gadget and smartphone app that together improve your golf swing, falls into this category, as does the SteriPen, the latest way to sterilize water on your travels.

We have become a documenting and sharing society -- to the point where some folks question whether an event really happened if there's no video proof. While some memories might be better left undocumented, it's hard to turn down tech that lets you easily record and share vacation memories, especially if you don't want to spend your summer behind a viewfinder. Here's where a "life log" camera like the Autographer Classic -- which attaches to clothing and can take random candid shots -- can add a lot of fun. 

I also looked at summer tech aimed at kids in grade school and younger. Sure, kids should unplug whenever possible during the summer months, but when you can't withhold the electronics any longer, make it something educational, like the Leapfrog tablet. A fun, creative alternative is the VTech Kidizoom camera for preschoolers. Good kid-tech teaches, lets kids play a bigger role in capturing summer adventures, or simply keeps them quietly entertained while you're on the road.

The cost of this summer tech fun varies a lot, from free apps to high price tags on some of the gadgets. (No one ever said your first drone -- such as the $1,299 DJI Phantom2 Vision+ -- would be cheap.) But they all will put a memorable twist on your summer adventures.

What's your favorite summer tech toy? Let's get together in the Comments section and talk about your own discoveries.

Curtis Franklin Jr. has been writing about technologies and products in computing and networking since the early 1980s. He contributes to a number of technology-industry publications including Information Week , ChannelWeb , Network ... View Full Bio

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Curt Franklin
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Curt Franklin,
User Rank: Strategist
7/14/2014 | 10:18:08 AM
Re: Underwater toy
@Susan, I'm intrigued by the iGills, as well: I've got a (relatively simple) dive computer, but I love the idea of being able to do things from the graphical interface that my phone would allow. Now, I just have to plan some trips to the Atlantic coast: Diving on the Gulf Coast of the Florida peninsula can be good, but involves a long boat ride to get to any depth. Plus, on the Atlantic coast I can get in some lionfish hunting!
Curt Franklin
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Curt Franklin,
User Rank: Strategist
7/14/2014 | 10:15:25 AM
Re: I want all!
@zaius, I'll admit that I have a serious case of the hots for a drone, as well. In a couple of months I'm going to a seminar on drone video production: I suspect that my "techno-lust" will go into high gear after that!

As for underwater video, I'm looking forward to taking my GoPro on my next dive. It's rated to rec limits and (with a lens adapter) can take pretty good shots. I feel some reef video coming on...
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Ninja
7/14/2014 | 7:45:01 AM
Underwater toy
Curt,

"After all, tech is still out there doing its thing even when the sun is shining at 8:30 p.m."

Or, when the sun is shining at midnight, like in Finland. :) 

I want the iGilles for taking underwater pictures and video. :D I believe from all the toys you presented this is the most fun of them all.

I considered the drone as well, because having your own drone has to be cool. Then, I couldn't find any good use to it after thinking for a minute, so I just stayed with the underwater thingy. Maybe the drone can be fun for spying and playing summer secret agent. :D  

-Susan
zaious
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zaious,
User Rank: Strategist
7/13/2014 | 6:57:18 PM
I want all!
Techie toys are fascinating! I loved the last one the most, the drone copter. Sending at $1200 toy up in firework is risky; it might get hit by a projectile or a burning piece. However, the results are breathtaking as well. The aquatic ones are also tempting, underwater photography is getting mainstream. 
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