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Find sitting on the beach boring? Can't tear yourself away from technology? Here are some great new gadgets that can make your summer fun.
On The Road
You don't want to spend your vacation staring at the same four walls, right? You want to get out, see the world, experience the highway! But you want to do that knowing that, wherever you go, your devices will work, your data will be safe, and nobody will be "borrowing" your home entertainment center while you're gone. Here are some gadgets that can help.
If it's been a couple of years since you traveled overseas, you should know that things have changed -- like the number of USB-connected gizmos you're carrying this summer. Which is why your old universal power adapter is now closetware. Leave it where it lays and get one of these. This compact (3 x 2 x 2.5 inches), lightweight (3.33 ounces) adapter is probably smarter than your old one, too. It automatically detects incoming voltage and converts it to 120-volt AC power, and it's plug-compatible with more than 150 countries on six continents including Australia (if you're going to Antarctica, you're apparently on your own.) But best of all, it has a built-in USB port that allows you to leave chargers for cell phones, digital cameras, iPods, and other devices at home. It even lets you charge via AC and USB simultaneously, and there's an integral surge protector that protects electronics from power spikes.
The AT&T Remote Monitor is an easy-to-install remote package that lets you watch and control your house while you're gone. For $9.99 a month you can view live video from up to eight cameras, monitor doors and windows, control lights, and more through a secure Web connection using a PC (no Macs need apply) or a Web-enabled Cingular phone. The $99 starter kit includes a gateway controller that that plugs into your home router, an IP camera with pan and tilt that connects to the gateway over your household wiring, a wireless door/window sensor, and two powerline transmission modules that eliminate the need to run cable. Sensors are available that monitor doors and windows, temperature, water, and motion detection. You can also buy wireless power controls that turn lights and appliances on or off, and repeaters that extend the wireless range, just in case your house is so big the rumpus room and dining salon are in different counties.
Even if your vacation takes you and your laptop through the valley of the shadow this summer, you need fear no evil if you've got Yoggie. Yoggie Gatekeeper Pro is a tiny hardware firewall that eliminates all your usual excuses for not being fully protected. It fits in your hand, requires no wall outlet, and provides enterprise-level firewall protection for your computer. Plug it into a USB port and it can work with wired Ethernet or wireless connections (it does packet filtering for your computer's own WiFi adapter through the use of a virtual bridge). Yoggie provides a stateful inspection firewall with transparent e-mail and Web proxies, intrusion detection and prevention. You configure and monitor it through a browser-based console.
There is a gizmo for everything, and this proves it: If you are going to drive a car overseas, it's important to drive on the correct side of the road -- which may not be the right side. How to remember? Get the qStart Automatic Reminder. Plug it into the cigarette lighter, select the correct side for the country you're in, and every time you start the car the qStart will speak a reminder to "drive on the right" or "drive on the left." Don't forget and leave it in the rental either, because it will come in handy when you get home, too -- amazing how quickly we can form subconscious habits. It comes from Great Britain, where they know a thing or two about driving on the wrong side of the road.
Here's the ultimate solution to the problem of leaving your PC behind: Don't. Install it in your car instead. HIPe PC's line of Driv-N PCs puts a computer in your car so you can play DVD movies, browse the Web, and stay connected to your home or office PC. You put the CPU under a seat or in the trunk and install the screen in your dash. It comes with voice-recognition software for hands-free operation, and the Driv-N's power supply is designed to cope with under-voltage conditions and power spikes. Driv-N PCs support Bluetooth, GSM, Edge, wi-fi, and Wireless G connectivity, so you don't have to copy files -- just connect to your home media server while you're on the road.
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