In the beginning, there were the new tech toys. And the developers surveyed them and declared them geek-worthy.
Then, all the begetting began. No mate, just a bevy of offspring, waiting to take their places as the ultimate, gotta-have-it accessories.
Ranging from shower curtains to protective cases, these accessories often find a home in our pockets, purses and, yes, even bathrooms.
Just when you thought it was safe to take a shower, the folks at Hammacher Schlemmer entice you with the iPad Musical Shower Curtain ($39.95).
This is a great concept, and worked well when we tested it using an iPhone 4S, a Samsung Galaxy S4 and a first-generation iPad. The curtain's built-in speakers delivered pure, beautiful sound at normal levels. But, when we cranked the volume up so we could hear our tunes over the noise of the shower, we detected a bit of distortion.
Its key features include:
- Two speakers placed in the left and right top corners of the curtain.
- A waterproof zippered pocket on the outside of the curtain to hold our devices.
- Waterproof touch controls on the inside of the curtain that allowed us to control our devices and answer phone calls.
- A built-in audio cable.
For those of us that spend the winter shoveling snow off of driveways, sidewalks and cars, come the new Snow Gloves from Beartek ($120). These leather gloves wirelessly connect to your smartphone, allowing you to continue shoveling with your phone snugly tucked away in your pocket.
Beartek also makes motorcycle gloves ($145) and classic, all-purpose gloves ($95), featuring the same technology.
Although we haven't been hit with a major storm -- yet -- we were able to test our snow gloves by just wearing them and a headset around the house, using them to control our Samsung Galaxy S4 phone. We expected nothing less than perfection, and that's what we got.
The gloves connect to your phone using Bluetooth technology and a built-in Sync Module located in a zippered pocket in the bottom of the left-hand glove. All of the controls are accessed using your fingers and touch points on the gloves. Also, the Sync Module can be switched out for a module that will control a Go-Pro Camera.
Using the gloves we were able to:
- Answer phone calls.
- Listen to music.
- Make phone calls.
Among their additional key features are:
- Up to 80 hour battery life (rechargeable).
- Four-ounce Primaloft® internal liner throughout.
- Premium goatskin leather outer.
- Windproof and waterproof with Aquatex™ insert.
Next come a slew of smartphone cases. The ones below were for the Samsung Galaxy 4S, but these companies also make cases for everything from iPhones to Kindles.
Acase has developed the Suprlegger, a hard shell case ($14.95) which features a hard shell back and separate silicone liner, designed to protect your phone from dirt, drops and physical damage. Since the case is designed specifically for the S4, we had complete access to all of the phone's buttons, the camera and its speakers.
We were able to break one of these cases while trying to attach it to one of our phones, but this shouldn't be a common problem if the phone isn't forced into the case.
Next is the iLuv Jstyle leather wallet case ($69.99). This quickly became one of our favorites.
Although it doesn't offer the hard shell protection of many of the other cases, the J Style serves a dual purpose -- it replaces your wallet and protects your phone.
One side features a snug compartment for the S4, and the other features four compartments for your drivers' license and credit cards. As with all of the cases we tested, the Jstyle gave us complete access to all of the features of our phone.
The wallet style also protects the screen of your phone from dust and normal wear and tear of daily use. We do, however recommend using a screen protector.
For complete protection of the S4, we recommend either the Fre ($79.99) or the Nuud ($89.95) from Lifeproof. Basically these cases are identical, with the Nuud coming with an optional screen protector, whereas it's built into the Fre case. Features of both cases include:
- They are fully submersible to 6.6 feet.
- They can survive drops from up to 6.6 feet.
- They are totally sealed from dirt, dust, snow and ice.
- Complete access to buttons, ports and headphone jack.
- Maximum sound output and clarity.
- Anti-reflective optical-glass camera lens.
- They are backed by a 1-year warranty.
Last, but not least, is the Echo from M-Edge ($34.99). This is also a hard shell case, but the protective lining is built into the case's shell. The case offers shock-proof protection, plus protects the phone from damage from dust and other day-to-day occurrences. As with the Acase and Jstyle, we recommend the purchase of a screen protector.
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