2014 Back to School Gift Guide

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The new school year will be starting soon (and it likely already has for some people), which means that it’s time to get those students in your life the tools they’ll need in order to survive the next nine months. No, we’re not talking about boring stuff like pencils and notebooks, but rather the cool gadgets and gear that will make dorm life a little more enjoyable. Here are some great gift ideas that no student should be without.

For Your Room:

Grace Digital Primo Wi-Fi Internet Radio Streamer

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Internet radio has become all the rage these days, and although you can listen to a lot of stuff on your computer or smartphone, we really dig this wireless music receiver from Grace Digital, which delivers access to over 50,000 stations, podcasts and on-demand content from all over the world with a user-friendly interface. Whether you’re listening to local stations, shows from other countries or cultivated playlists on Pandora, the Primo has everything you could possibly want… except for an integrated speaker, which is a little weird considering that one was included on previous models. With that said, it does make the device more compact, and there’s an AC power jack for headphones and an RCA line out to connect to your personal sound system. The unit itself is also smartly designed, with a 3.5-inch color LCD screen that makes finding what you want a breeze – from dedicated icons for Pandora, iHeartRadio and SiriusXM, to the ability to search for stations by categories like location and genre – as well as eight one-button presets (with the option to store 100 additional stations) and thumbs up/down and skip functionality for Pandora users. Heck, you can even view the weather or use it as an alarm clock, making the Grace Digital Primo the perfect addition to any work desk.

Roku 3

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If you’ve never heard of Roku, chances are that you’re living under a rock, because much like how TiVo spearheaded the DVR explosion, Roku has been at the forefront of the streaming media movement since its little black box debuted in 2008. In those six years, Roku has quickly become one of the best and most popular devices on the market, with the Roku 3 serving as the premium model in the company’s line of set-top boxes. One of the biggest reasons why the brand has continued to prosper is just how easy their products are to use, and the Roku 3 improves that experience with a processor that’s five times faster and an extended wireless range to ensure you have the best possible connection when accessing the 1,000-plus entertainment channels like Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go and Pandora. And if you already own a Roku, now’s the time to upgrade, because the Roku 3 comes fully loaded with 1080p video, dual-band wireless, an Ethernet port and a USB port to stream your music, movies and photos. The included remote also comes equipped with a headphone jack and headphones for private listening, so you won’t have to worry about disturbing your roommate’s studying with episodes of “Orange is the New Black.”

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Enjoy summer with a waterproof iPod

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During summer there are few things more enjoyable than spending time in the water. Weather you’re in a luxury pool, swimming laps or just jumping in to cool off while boating, these activities are what we look forward to, particularly when we’re freezing through winter.

You can make these activities even more enjoyable by throwing in your favorite music. We tried out the Waterproof iPod Shuffle Swimbuds Headphones Bundle from Underwater Audio and loved it. The bundle features a genuine Apple iPod Shuffle, waterproofed by Underwater Audio, along with a pair of improved audio extra-short cord Swimbuds Waterproof headphones. The Swimbuds are great because they are designed for flip turns, so serious swimmers will love them. Imagine how much more enjoyable those laps will be now! You can also conveniently switch out songs and audiobooks with iTunes.

My iPad motivates me to hit the treadmill as I can watch episodes of great TV shows with each workout, and now with the waterproof iPod swimmers can get extra motivation to work out with music, audiobooks or podcasts. Casual users will just make their leisure time even more relaxing.

So try them out and enjoy the outdoors even more along with your indoor pool workouts.

  

Stanley Portable Power Inverter

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In a world filled with gadgets, access to power becomes critical. For stuff like phones it’s pretty easy as you often have a car charger to bail you out, but that usually doesn’t work for laptops and other larger gadgets.

Now with the Stanley 140 Watt Portable Power Inverter you can plug the power cord into a vehicle’s 12 Volt DC port (cigarette lighter) and enjoy the convenience of household outlets and a USB port. Now you have power for your laptop or other large gadgets like DVD players and gaming devices. If you’re on the road a lot for work or play this can be an incredibly useful tool to have at your disposal. I probably won’t use it often but I’m putting it in my trunk so I always have it as an option. Check it out.

  

App of the Week: AthleteMinder

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What happens when you hit the gym, dig into a practice or head out to set your best mile time? Aside from that familiar increase in blood flow, you immediately become acquainted with the numbers that attach themselves so tightly to perceived performance.

Every machine at the gym flickers methodically while processing a whole slew of exercise variables. Heart rate monitors beep away, filling you in on cardiovascular strain and whether or not you’re pushing as “hard” as you were yesterday. Your coach shouts that you’re 12 seconds slower than your teammate.

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2014 Father’s Day Gift Guide: Gadgets

Gadgets dominate our lives, and you can always start these days with dad’s phone. If he has the latest and greatest, don’t even bother. But if he’s still tied to his lame flip phone, then of course you can go with an iPhone or a new Android phone to get him into the 21st century.

If you’re looking for something a little different, however, we’ve put together some ideas for you. And for more great suggestions, be sure to check out the other categories in our Father’s Day gift guide.

Winegard FlatWave Amped Indoor Antenna

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With cord-cutting at an all-time high, products like the Winegard FlatWave Amped are going to change the way that people consume television. This indoor HDTV antenna can pick up HD-quality channels up to 50 miles away, features dual-band reception so you won’t miss out on channels that other UHF-only antennas do, and prevents pixelation and dropouts using an ultra-low noise (1dB) amplifier. It’s lightweight and razor-thin (about the width of a plastic placemat) and can lay flat on a surface or hang on the wall or window for the best reception. Better yet, since the antenna is powered through the USB port on your TV, it only consumes power when the television is turned on. It sounds too good to be true, but within minutes of connecting the FlatWave Amped, we had 25 channels to choose from, including all of the major networks. This thing really works, and at a fraction of the cost of your annual cable bill.

Phosphor Touch Time Watch

Smartwatches are all the rage these days, but don’t let the Phosphor Touch Time digital watch fool you, because its lack of interconnectivity prevents it from competing with the more advanced models. Nevertheless, the Touch Time is still a major step up from your typical wristwatch thanks to some cool features, including a touch interface that’s incredibly easy to use, five different time displays, and custom language settings for English, French, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish and German. Some of the included apps feel a bit useless on such a small screen – particularly the calendar mode – but the time zone display is incredibly useful, astronomy geeks will love the lunar moon function, and the old-school calculator is a nice touch. One of the best things about the Touch Time is that you never have to sync or charge it because it’s powered by a replaceable battery (with up to a one-year life span), while the ability to upgrade from a silicone band to a stainless steel bracelet means that you can wear the same watch to work and the gym without anyone being the wiser.

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Cobra AirWave 360

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There are a lot of portable speakers to choose from these days, but many of them are impossible to use in the car due to their shape or size. The Cobra AirWave 360, on the other hand, is practically built for that purpose – a portable, 8-inch speaker that’s been smartly designed to look like a coffee tumbler and will fit into just about any vehicle or bicycle cup holder. You could even argue that it deters potential thieves, since no one is going to steal your mug, unless they’re really big jerks. For as functional as its design may be, however, the AirWave 360 also delivers 360-degree surround sound and features an integrated, noise-cancelling microphone that works with Siri and S Voice. There’s even a cool Gesture Control feature that enables you to pause music and answer incoming calls by simply waving your hand over the top of the speaker, and although that may not technically be considered hands-free, it’s a lot safer than the alternative.

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