Capitalizing on the sudden need for iPhone 5 docking stations, Harman has released the JBL OnBeat Micro speaker dock that features the must-have Apple Lightning connector.
The $100 JBL OnBeat Micro is a redesigned version of its predecessor, the On Stage Micro. It still comes with an AC power adapter, which charges devices while they are docked, but the remote control has been dropped.
The speaker dock is intended to be portable; it weighs less than 1 pound and is compact enough to fit in a purse or backpack. But it needs four AAA batteries to provide only five hours of playback, which isn't much. It's probably better just to leave it plugged in.
It has only two buttons: power and volume. You don't have to sync, download or fiddle with anything.
Thick cases for an iPhone might not fit, because the Lightning connector is nestled flush in the bottom of the recessed dock. The dock is too small to house the iPad, full or Mini, but a USB port and a 3.5-millimeter audio input in the back can accommodate most devices.
For a small speaker, the JBL OnBeat Micro produces surprisingly good sound.
The JBL OnBeat Micro doesn't have all the bells and whistles of its rivals. There is no Bluetooth capability, rechargeable battery, alarm clock, AM/FM radio or speakerphone. But it is one of the few on the market with a Lightning connector, which raises its profile considerably.
— GREGORY SCHMIDT
A QUICK AND SLIM LAPTOP MADE ESPECIALLY FOR GAMING
The Razer Blade gaming laptop is extremely fast, thin and expensive.
The speed comes from its processor, an Intel Core i7, a quad-core chip found in some high-end Macs. That speed is paired with a 17.3-inch high-definition screen.
Although the laptop is almost 11-by-17-inches to accommodate the screen, it is less than 1 inch thick and weighs 6.6 pounds, relatively light for a laptop this size. Part of the way Razer kept it thin was by omitting an optical drive.
What really sets this device apart from other laptops is the Switchblade user interface. That is an LCD trackpad that shows game information, like who in your player group is inflicting the most damage on foes.
There are also 10 buttons above the trackpad that change their assigned functions depending on the game. They can represent different weapons and automate actions that would normally take several steps, like drawing and loading a firearm. Or you can create your own custom actions, even for nongaming software, as in using the laptop for Photoshop.
The laptop costs $2,500. If you add accessories, it costs even more.
— ROY FURCHGOTT
Rechargeable power banks revive portable devices
Smartphones are convenient, until they run out of power. To help provide an extra jolt of juice, myCharge has introduced a line of rechargeable power banks that are compatible with a variety of devices.
The power banks come with names like Sojourn, Voyage and Trek, suggesting that life is an adventure, so you should be prepared. The top-of-the-line model is the $100 Peak 6000, which can charge devices three ways: through an Apple dock connector, a micro USB connector or a USB port. The multiple connectors are tucked away like the ever-ready blades of a Swiss Army knife.
MyCharge says that the Peak 6000 can provide an extra 27 hours of talk or 20 hours of browsing, and although it is meant to come fully charged, it also comes with fold-out prongs to charge the unit at a wall outlet.
After a full charge, which took about four hours, the Peak 6000 was able to charge a depleted iPad to only 72 percent, which took another couple of hours. Connecting the iPad directly to a wall outlet would have charged it fully in half the time.
But the Peak 6000 was helpful on a recent train ride, when I became obsessed with the LostWinds iPad app. The Peak 6000 provided enough power to play the game for the entire four-hour train ride.
The Peak 6000 could charge a little faster, but when you really need extra power, it comes in handy.
— GREGORY SCHMIDT
A big picture from a tiny pocket-size projector
As consumers switch from laptops to tablets and smartphones, the makers of projectors are adapting.
Brookstone has come out with an HDMI Pocket Projector, which connects to multiple devices through an HDMI cable for a variety of uses, including presentations, videos, slide shows and games.
Measuring 3.8 inches by 3.9 inches, the projector is about the size of a thick piece of French toast. But Brookstone found room for a Digital Light Processing chip from Texas Instruments, which it claimed could project high-definition images up to 1080p at 60 inches diagonal on a flat surface.
The projector, which costs $300, comes with a 3-inch HDMI cable, and micro and mini adapters. It has a rechargeable battery, which offers up to two hours of playback on a charge.
The connection to an iPhone, with a special adapter, is pretty simple. The projector displays a remarkably clear picture while you play with apps and watch YouTube clips and episodes of "The Simpsons" and "Planet Earth." Even at eight feet away, the picture maintained most of its clarity.
The sound, though, is weak and tinny. There is an auxiliary jack to enable the use of external speakers, but that seems to defeat the purpose of having a pocket projector. You want it to work as a single unit; if you need to carry attachments, you might as well go back to using a laptop.
— GREGORY SCHMIDT