The Latest Gadgets, Gizmos And Geek Toys

2/9/2013 9:07:14 AM

Written by Paul Goodhead S. something worthy of appearing in Custom Kit?

1.    Backup battery

Lindy portable power pack

It’s a tough task to make a backup battery sexy, but cladding one in brushed aluminum [as pioneered by Apple] has worked a treat for Lindy; the Portable Power Pack is genuinely pleasant to hold and use. Happily, the aesthetic charm is backed up by good performance too – the 2200mAh cell inside the pack was just about able to fully charge an empty Samsung Galaxy S III. It’s annoying that only a Micro USB cable is included, but power is output via a USB port, so any standard charging cable will work. Of course, $45 is a lot to pay for something you might not use that often, but this is a quality piece of kit for those who regularly find themselves out of power on the move.

Charger 4 stars boomer

Price: $45



2.    Board game

Spartacus board game

Spartacus board game

Based on the TV series of the same name, the Spartacus board game pits players against one another in a battle to become the most influential gladiator house in the city of Capua. All manner of dirty tricks and ploys can be used to achieve the goal, with players encouraged to trade, barter, ally and backstab any time they see fit. Despite being created as a TV tie-in, the core mechanics of the game are remarkably well polished and balanced. The dice-based fighting mechanic is a particular highlight, striking a perfect balance between skill, tactics and chance. You’ll need a full table [four players] to get the best out of the game, but for $39, it’s an absolute steal.

Ashur 5 stars Gannicus

Price: $39


3.    In-ear headphones

AKG K3003

AKG K3003

The K3003s are, simply put, the best headphones we’ve ever had in our ears. Bass, mid-range and high notes are all reproduced beautifully, making music sound sharp, accurate and incredibly detailed. Using them is simply intoxicating. The caveat is that you’ll have work to get the best out of them, especially if you want to use them on the move. They still sound good plugged into and iPhone, but a dedicated external DAC such as the $180 FiiO E17 makes them truly sing. Are they worth $1,500 then? Of course not. Paying that much for mobile headphones if simply ludicrous for anyone with any common sense. But if you happen to be a Premiership footballer, or you’ve had a good Christmas bonus, these are a real treat, even if they can’t justify the asking price.

Other headphones 4 stars K3003

Price: $1,500



4.    Bluetooth headphones

SuperTooth melody

Supertooth melody

Going wireless is an enticing proposition, so it’s disappointing that the Melody doesn’t live up to its price tag. Sound quality is the main gripe; output sounds weedy, with little punch or definition. The bass feels curiously detached from the rest of the tonal range, almost as though there’s a range of tones missing between the mid-range and the lower bass notes. It’s a pity, as the design of the headset is good. It’s light enough to be unobtrusive and the volume, play/pause and skip buttons on the right ear-cup are useful too. We’re still waiting to see a Bluetooth headset that ticks all the boxes.

Broken tooth 2 stars Sabretooth

Price: $105

5.    IP Camera

Compro CS80 IP Camera

Compro CS80 IP Camera

The CS80 claims to be the smallest 2MP network camera available, and it’s a claim we don’t doubt – it’s only as big as a credit card. This should make it ideal for tucking away in corners, although you’ll be limited to just the nooks you can reach, as the length of the bundled power and Ethernet cables could hardly be labeled as generous. The CS 80 is a pleasure to use too – 2MP may sound meager, but it’s enough to provide a crisp picture, and the bundled software is polished to a mirror shine; setup and operation are a breeze. We can’t fathom out why it costs $225, though; we’ve seen cheaper units that include Wi-Fi and night vision.

Protection racket 3 stars security

Price: $233


6.    In-ear headphones

Zip earphones

Zip earphones

Zip earphones - wow, why didn’t we think of that? The Zip earphones offer a gloriously simple solution to tangled wires and it works a treat – the earphones stayed tidy, even after a week at the bottom of a rucksack. We weren’t expecting much in terms of audio quality given the price, and rightly so; music had a slightly echoey quality and lots of treble. They’re in ear buds, though, so they provide good bass, meaning that they’re still an upgrade from standard Apple earphones. Unfortunately, however, the zip cord doesn’t flex well in certain directions, meaning that the ear-buds became dislodged too easily when on the move. For just $18, though, these offer reasonable sound quality and an easy way to keep your cables in check.

Velcro 3 stars zip

Price: $19

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