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More must-have gadgets




Last week I looked at a few "in between" technologies like the Pogoplug, Slingbox and Apple Airport Express Base that you can use to connect all your different technologies. This week I thought I'd continue to look at gadgets you probably didn't even know that you needed.

Like the Archos 9 PCtablet (www.archos.com). I know, technically this is a thing and not a thing between your other things, but used in combination with your other technologies it can make your life a little more portable.

Basically it's a mini table computer with a touch screen, built-in camera and mic, 60 GB hard drive, etc. The price should be around $500 (it will be out in December) and it includes a version of Windows 7 Lite.

The reason I included this item is because it brings together a lot of different technologies. (Kind of like the Archos TV+, which is also worth a look if you're in the market for a PVR.)

You can use the tablet to watch HD movies, play simple games, listen to music, read books, send e-mails, chat live, surf the web, etc. You can use it to access your music collection through the web using the Opera 10 browser, Rhapsody, MeCanto, accessTunes, pulpTunes, lala.com, or any of the services out there.

Better yet, if you get in the habit of putting your music, videos and photos onto a drive that you connect to the Pogoplug then your Archos 9 becomes your portable jukebox and media centre.

The only drawback is the five-hour battery life. But that said, a lot of smart phones offer less life than that these days.

Which brings me to items like a spare battery pack. If you have a cell phone, tablet and other gadgets on the go it might make sense to invest in an external battery pack when the day comes that you need a little extra juice.

Some packs, like the Bix Power pack (www.bixpower.com) can store about 26.6 watt hours of electricity, about five times the capacity of your cell phone. This is really for small devices, but if you need enough power to keep a laptop going there are options for that as well (for example see www.espow.ca).

Some stores sell solar backpacks and briefcases (e.g. www.voltaicsystems.com) to charge laptops and gadgets, although this can be a slow way to charge your batteries.

There are also a handful of laptops out there that still come with additional slots for batteries (Dell XPS, Latitude X300 and others) or that make it easy to swap out a single battery. If this is important to you then you need to do a little bit of research.

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