Monthly Archives: December 2010

The Washington Times Review: Gifts, gadgets for the techie in your life

Accessories’ usefulness outlasts holiday novelty
By Mark A. Kellner - The Washington Times

Your product sounds interesting,” I said to Greg Lee, a marketer of a tech device in Philadelphia. Then I posed a question I have never — not once — asked in three decades of product reviewing: “How does it perform in bed?”

Mr. Lee assured me it was solid there, and I soon found out: The $35 Free One Hand holder for Apple’s iPad ( seems to be the best value on the market for something that’ll grab your iPad, never let go, and let you read in bed, or in a chair, more easily and comfortably.

The key is for the device to distribute the iPad’s weight when you’re holding it with one hand. (If you think that’s easy, try it.) The iPad is a great e-book reader, in my opinion, but its weight can be a bit cumbersome. Free One Hand clips onto the iPad at all four corners and has a handle that lets you apply several different grips, comfortably, for reading and other tasks, such as watching a movie. The front of the product provides a little space between the iPad screen and a desktop if you place it screen-side down. On its back, the holder is a miniature stand for the iPad — great, I’m guessing, for an airplane tray table.

Bottom line: It’s well worth getting for the holidays and beyond. I recommend the Free One Hand solution for any iPad owner.

KEEP TECH AND CARRY ON: In a similar vein, a new computer-friendly backpack, the Airbak Air Tech ($99 and up at will let you schlep your laptop computer more easily and with less stress. I can attest to this one: It’s a great way to haul around a notebook computer.

Its makers say the Air Tech “uses a patented, built-in air-cushion technology to protect a laptop and other tech gear as well as alleviating back stress and making wearers feel as if they are carrying half the weight or less. Simply pump the air pocket to the desired level, taking only seconds, and the Airbak shields your tech valuables with a cushion of air.”

But, wait, there’s more: The Air Tech also will redistribute the weight, this time across your back, to make the whole carrying thing easier. It’s also “anonymous” enough so as not to scream “Steal me!” in an airport or train station. There are plenty of compartments, which translates into lots of storage and organization. I like this one.

FOR THE COLLEGE STUDENT: Blue Microphone’s Mikey for iPod ( will plug into an Apple iPod and deliver super-high-quality sound that can record class lectures and other things you might want to hear again. That it can do so for less than $100 is equally remarkable; that it can do so even in stereo is amazing, making this a great concert-grabber as well. (Be sure you respect copyright laws, though.)

Here’s the better part: You can buy the item for one-third off at If there’s a student in your life, or staring back from the mirror, you need to get this.

DOES ANYBODY REALLY KNOW WHAT TIME IT IS: One way you’ll know is with Phosphor’s $150 World Time Watch, which uses an e-ink display, like those found in e-book readers such as Amazon’s Kindle, to display the time. There are various displays and formats as well as a wide viewing angle, making it easy to read. I also like the adjustable wrist strap, and because this is e-ink, the display is ultra-high-contrast. Details at for a product that is highly recommended.

CAMERA BOOKS SCORE: If you are giving anyone a digital camera this year, or if you’ve just received one, get all three volumes of Scott Kelby’s “Digital Photography” series (Peachpit Press). These short, pithy, highly illustrated volumes are a virtual master class in photography. They’re available through, though an even better value can be had at area Costco stores, where the volumes are $13.99 each. Kelby is a top-selling computer author, editor of Photoshop User magazine, and in looking at just five pages, I learned stuff I hadn’t known before. The books are great stocking stuffers — right next to that 600 mm lens.

Posted in News and Media | Leave a comment