-- This weekly roundup takes a look at the practical and sometimes quirky aspects of tech products.
Microphone works three ways
Blue Microphones' Snowball provides three convenient recording options.
If you want to record solo, its cardioid setting will pick up your voice in front of the microphone. If multiple people need to be heard during a conference call, the omni setting will pick up sounds all around the mic.
Need to record instruments in a band or a friend who likes to shout? The cardioid with 10db pad can handle the noise. The plug-and-play USB microphone for the PC and Mac costs about $100.
Gaming headset takes calls, too
Serious gamers who don't mind spending serious money on a headset can try on Turtle Beach's latest model: the Ear Force XP500 headset. Equipped with built-in surround sound and dual-pairing Bluetooth technology, the wireless headset lets you answer incoming cellphone calls, chat with gamers and stream music while playing games.
When you're chatting with other Xbox Live gamers, the headset is smart enough to automatically boost the chat volume when the game's volume increases. Plus, its microphone monitor lets you hear your voice in the headset, so you don't have to shout to hear yourself talk. The headset also can be programmed to maximize certain types of sounds while minimizing others. Priced at $270, the Ear Force XP500 is compatible with the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
Case plays mix and match
Feel the need to tinker with the color of your iPhone 4? Try putting it in mykase, a customizable hard case from BodyGuardz.
Designed to fit both the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 4S, the protective case is made up of a series of interchangeable plates: a base with an interlocking back, side and bottom pieces and a back plate. Because the pieces are available in different colors, you can mix and match to create your own design.
Currently, the base color comes in black and white while the back plate is available in black, white and yellow. Other hues, including an option that lets you print your own design on the back plate, are in the works. A mycase Starter Kit with a back and three interchangeable plates costs $30. A package that also includes a screen protector is $35.
LED TV delivers 3-D images
You can recreate the 3-D movie experience at home with Sceptre's 32-inch 3-D LED TV. Capable of handling both 2-D and 3-D images, the high-definition TV can display 16.7 million colors at a 1920 by 1080 resolution with a contrast ratio of 3,500:1.
To complete the 3-D experience, the TV comes with two pairs of polarized 3-D glasses. Measuring about 1.9-inch thick, the TV can be swiveled up to 30 degrees to maximize your viewing or mounted on a wall. Priced at about $600, it includes three HDMI ports, a USB port and 5.1 digital audio output.
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