-- This weekly roundup takes a look at the practical and sometimes quirky aspects of tech products.
"Secret" keyboard slides out of case
Tired of trying to tap messages on your phone's screen? The SLIDER Bluetooth Keyboard case from Concord Keystone might be able to help. Specifically designed for the iPhone 4 and 4S, the case contains a hidden mini keyboard that slides in and out as needed. Priced at $50, the 50-key keyboard can be recharged via a USB connection.
Portable speaker goes wireless
Listening to a good song? You can let others in on your good taste with Satechi's BT Portable Speaker. The mini speaker can handle streaming music and conversations transmitted wirelessly from Bluetooth phones, MP3 players, tablets and other devices. Want to pause a song or answer a call? You can do so via the speaker's control buttons. Weighing 3.3 ounces, the speaker has rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that deliver up to six hours of sound. It costs about $45.
Video camera takes it all in
With telyHD, you can video conference via Skype on your high-def TV. Designed to work with your TV via your home network, the telyHD has a wide-angle camera that can zoom, pan and tilt to capture whatever is going on in the room. Your Skype pals can receive your telyHD video calls via their computer, tablet or smartphone. If you and another pal each have a telyHD system, you both can record video messages and share photos while chatting. The Android-based system from Tely Labs includes a wide-angle HD camera, four noise-canceling microphones, built-in Wi-Fi and a remote control. It costs $250.
Gadget boosts sound quality in car
Too often, an MP3 player plugged into a car's audio system produces so-so sounds. Harman takes aim at the problem with the JBL MS-2, a plug-and-play device designed to optimize the sounds coming from your car's speakers when playing music from portable devices. The palm-sized device can be plugged into the auxiliary jack on a car's audio deck and then connected to an iPod, an iPhone, an Android smartphone and other portable music players. With its built-in microphone, it optimizes the signal from your portable player to improve the sound coming from your car's speakers. It also analyzes the acoustic characteristics of your car's speakers, electronics and vehicle interior and then works to make sure all the sounds reach your ears at the same time. The result, according to Harman, is a more satisfying listening experience. Not convinced? The device has a "defeat switch" that lets you turn it off, so you can compare how the audio sounds with and without its assistance. The digital processor and automatic equalizer costs about $200.
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