Fall is gadget season. As consumers return to school and work, developers rush to upgrade their offerings and introduce new products. This season’s crop is dominated by socially driven tools that offer innovative ways to create, store, and share information.
Livescribe’s latest creation marries ink-and-paper practicality with the intelligence of a smartphone. When you write with the Echo smartpen on special speckled paper, the pen’s infrared camera memorizes your notes as a built-in microphone records audio from lectures or meetings. Tapping a word on the page prompts the pen to play back audio it recorded at the time the word was written. The synchronized text and audio, called a “pencast,” can be exported and shared with anyone using a desktop client and the Livescribe Web site. An evolving library of more than 60 apps turns the Echo into a truly customizable, multipurpose device. Livescribe.com, $169.95 (4-gigabyte model) and $199.95 (8-gigabyte model)
Pico PK102 Pocket Projector
Optoma’s Pico PK102 Pocket Projector is a far cry from its bulky, temperamental predecessors. Weighing in at just 4 oz, the PK102 is rechargeable and ultra portable—ideal for carrying in your pocket to deliver presentations wherever your expertise is needed. Rather than a traditional bulb, it uses an LED light source to project images as large as 60 inches (measured diagonally). A variety of inputs lets users display highquality video and images directly from any PC, laptop, iPhone, iPod, USB flash drive, or other personal media player. The PK102’s 4 gigabytes of internal memory can store up to 6000 images or 8 hours of video. Optomausa.com, $249.00
Every busy pharmacy student deserves time to decompress. For television junkies who dream of ditching cable, Apple recently introduced a new version of Apple TV that may make the switch worthwhile. The device’s latest iteration is a shiny, palm-sized black box that streams movies and television shows from iTunes, Netflix, YouTube, and other sources straight to your television. Shows can be rented for $0.99 through the iTunes store; HD movies start at $4.99. Apple TV also lets users stream music and other digital media stored in iTunes collections, display photos from Flickr or MobileMe galleries, and listen to podcasts and Internet radio. Apple.com, $99.00
Kensington Battery Extenders
Kensington’s battery extenders boost dwindling batteries in a pinch. Designed for iPods and iPhones, the Mini Battery Pack adds 15 hours of music playback, 4 hours of video playback, or 3 hours of conversation. For most other smartphones, the Pocket Battery Pack for Smartphones is a solid choice. Equipped with built-in mini and micro USB charging cables, it adds up to 3.5 hours of power and is compatible with Blackberry, Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, HTC, LG, and other smartphone models. Kensington.com, $29.99 (Mini Battery Pack) and $39.99 (Pocket Battery Pack)
Dropbox is a brilliant, simple software gadget for all students who have gone through the cumbersome process of e-mailing themselves multiple versions of an important document. It allows users to quickly sync files across multiple computers and mobile devices using a single folder. Editing and saving a file in the Dropbox folder automatically updates the same file on all computers or mobile phones linked to that account. Files saved in Dropbox can also be accessed online from any computer and easily shared with others, making this gadget especially useful for collaborative projects. Best of all, it’s completely free.