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7/12/2014
09:06 AM
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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. is Senior Analyst at Omdia, focusing on enterprise security management. Curtis has been writing about technologies and products in computing and networking since the early 1980s. He has been on staff and contributed to technology-industry publications ... View Full Bio

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Curt Franklin
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Curt Franklin,
User Rank: Strategist
7/16/2014 | 9:44:13 AM
Re: Underwater toy
@Susan, the outdoor and sporting publications aimed at Florida residents and visitors are already featuring lots of lionfish recipes. "If you can't beat 'em, eat 'em" is the motto of many outdoors folks -- and when they're truly tasty, it makes population control even easier!

While they have no natural predators in the Caribbean or Americas, I've seen video indicating that some morays are starting to develop a taste for lionfish. That would be a positive development, indeed.
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
7/16/2014 | 8:22:35 AM
Re: Underwater toy
Curt,

Lionfish the next big thing in seafood dining? Are you keeping the folder on Lionfish recipes in preparation for the Lionfish a là Curt Franklin's Specialties seafood restaurant? :D 

-Susan 
Curt Franklin
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Curt Franklin,
User Rank: Strategist
7/15/2014 | 9:35:52 AM
Re: Underwater toy
Thanks for these, @Susan! Most people in the US have no idea just how many ships WW II sent to the bottom within sight of our shores. Many are within recreational dive limits -- I'm afraid I've reached the point where decompression diving (or mixed gas aside from EAN) is just too much like work.

I am keeping a folder on good lionfish recipes, though: I honestly think it's going to be the next big thing in seafood dining down here!
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
7/15/2014 | 2:50:01 AM
Re: Underwater toy
Curt, 

Here is some inspiration if you get your new underwater toy: iGills dives the historic U-352 German submarine sunk during WWII off the North Carolina Coast. Now, that is interesting, plus all the pretty fish around. :D The iGilles seems to be a nice toy. 

 

 

Here is more about the U-352 German submarine; this time without iGills, but with some Lionfish. :) 

 

-Susan
Curt Franklin
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Curt Franklin,
User Rank: Strategist
7/14/2014 | 6:47:05 PM
Re: Underwater toy
Thanks for that, @Susan! I have to say, I like the idea of this -- and of a little scooter that clips onto your tank. The idea of gliding around the reef while not kicking really appeals to my sense of laziness!
Curt Franklin
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Curt Franklin,
User Rank: Strategist
7/14/2014 | 6:45:34 PM
Re: I want all!
@Pedro, I'm with you: I love the beach, hate scraping sand out of my clothes for hours after I leave.

I've been thinking a lot about life loggers: I'm intrigued by the conecept -- I just worry whether I'm going to miss the big camera that I keep as a "security blanket" when we're on vacation.
Curt Franklin
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Curt Franklin,
User Rank: Strategist
7/14/2014 | 6:42:18 PM
Re: I want all!
@jastro, if there were a high-tech pail and shovel set I'm sure my dear wife would have it -- she's an absolute genius when it comes to sand sculpture!
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
7/14/2014 | 12:43:33 PM
Re: Underwater toy
Curt, look what I found. :D The iGills in action, plus two other underwater toys.



 

-Susan
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...
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