Hot stuff: Your summer gadget guide

Devices to help you get the most out of your summer

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Wireless Multimedia Flexible Keyboard

Summer is a great time to get out of the office and work by the pool, in the park or even on a boat. But sun and surf (not to mention beer) can wreck a keyboard. And carrying a full-size keyboard around like a surfboard will cramp your style.

Brando's $29 Wireless Multimedia Flexible Keyboard is easy to carry because it's light and rolls up like a beach towel. You can use it anywhere. It's water resistant, resilient and washable. And no sharp edges mean you can use it in an inflatable lounge chair without fear of sinking your vessel.

flexible keyboard
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Wireless Multimedia Flexible Keyboard

This isn't a miniaturized or half-keyboard. Its 104 keys include 18 keys for multimedia. Sorry, Mac, Vista and Linux users -- the Wireless Multimedia Flexible Keyboard is for Windows 98, 2000, Me and XP only.

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UV monitor
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Personal UV Monitor

Personal UV Monitor Half-baked idea or the hottest thing in skin protection since the invention of shade? Oregon Scientific's $30 Personal UV Monitor with Exposure Timer keeps track of the current ultraviolet index and temperature and lets you know when you're done in the sun based on your skin type and your sunscreen's SPF.

The gadget even takes into consideration changes in UV intensity. A countdown timer adds another level of protection. A Velcro strap keeps the UV monitor attached.

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Super Battery

Want to stay outside playing your music and running your toys without having to come inside to charge batteries? Going on a long trip with sporadic access to AC outlets? This is a job for ... Super Battery!

This 5-volt, rechargeable, NIMH battery ($35 from Herrington Catalog) gives you 700 amps of current. You can use it to charge your iPod or other music player for an extra five hours of playtime, or your cell phone for up to five extra hours of talk time.

 
Super Battery
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Super Battery
 

When you've drained it, you can recharge it by plugging it in overnight, or turn the crank to generate power without an electrical outlet. Two minutes of cranking gives you about five minutes of cell phone talk time.

At just under five pounds, the Super Battery is 4 by 3 by .75 in. and charges anything that can be charged via USB. It also features an emergency flashlight.

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Take a Trip

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With crowded roads and skyrocketing gasoline prices, is there any more value or sense in the family road trip? We say yes, absolutely. First, it's an adventure. Second, it's an adventure. The roadworthy gear on this page will comfort and assist you in your noble quest.

Is flying more your speed? Not to worry. A few car-specific gadgets aside, these devices are equally handy in the air or after you've landed.

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Helio Ocean Smart Phone

Everyone's going to have an Apple iPhone this summer. If you want to stand out from the crowd, make sure your phone is a Helio Ocean.

 
Helio Ocean
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Helio Ocean
 

The $295 Ocean performs a cool magic trick. Slide it up to reveal a cell phone keypad, or slide it over and turn it sideways to expose a Sidekick-like QWERTY keyboard for banging out those text messages from the shore. The screen automatically turns to either portrait mode or landscape, depending on which keypad you're using.

The Ocean works only with Helio's own "mobile virtual network," which operates through Sprint's network. It supports both Evolution Data Optimized (EV-DO) wireless Internet access and GPS satellite navigation, as well as Microsoft's ActiveSync for synchronizing your e-mail, calendar and contacts with your PC. Full instant messaging and e-mail support are standard, hooking you up with friends on Yahoo, AOL and MSN, and letting you use your Gmail, Hotmail and POP3 accounts.

It even geo-tags photos you take with the 2-megapixel camera. Surfing the Internet is a breeze with 3G speed and a full HTML browser. With Google Maps, PlaysForSure music file support, USB mass storage, Bluetooth, this phone does it all.

A "Buddy Beacon" tells you when your friends are near (as long as they're cool enough to carry a Helio phone, too). And unlike the iPhone, the Ocean is available right now.

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Hot stuff: Your summer gadget guide

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  • Take a trip

    The coolest smart phone, the cutest MP3 player, games and media to go, a car sun visor that plays DVDs, more
 
  • Explore the great outdoors

    GPS for hikers and bikers, a surfboard that lights up, a microwave for camping, cameras to capture the action, more
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