Time once again to do a rapid-fire roundup of things that have been sitting around the Cool Tools International Testing and Reviews Lab (aka my desk), in anticipation of receiving a ton of new stuff to test for the annual Cool Yule Tools holiday gift guide. These are all still very cool things to own and buy for the purposes they were designed to handle, but it’s easier to put them into a roundup than a full-length, Cool Tools-style review (not that those are mega-masterpieces anyway).
OK, away we go!
Epson Expression Premium XP-810 (about $130 via Amazon Prime): This all-in-one wireless printer is the nth iteration of the original Artisan series of all-in-ones from Epson, the higher end model that lets you print documents, copy, scan, fax (do people still do that?) and print photos. In an office setting it’s likely that you will have larger laser-style printers that you can print and copy and scan with, but for SMBs or home workers, this certainly fits the bill. The best part of the printer is its ability to print quality photos via inkjet inks, as this system includes 5 colors (black, cyan, magenta, yellow and “Photo Black”). However, I wasn’t as impressed with the images from this system compared with previous Artisan printers, which included six different ink cartridges (adding light cyan and light magenta to the regular CMYK mix). The printer includes support for the Epson Connect technology, which lets you print photos directly from a tablet, smartphone or computer, as well as Ethernet and Wi-Fi support. If you haven’t yet experienced an Epson printer yet, it’s a worthy investment (at least until Epson refreshes its printer line, as this one came out in September 2013).
Olloclip MACRO 3-in-1 Lens for iPhone 5/5S ($70): I love my original Olloclip, which provides a 3-in-1 snap-on lens for the iPhone to give the camera a fish-eye, wide-angle and 10x macro lens. The company recently expanded its line of lenses, including this 3-in-1 Macro lens. The three lenses offer up 7x, 14x and 21x zoom features to get really clear close-up images, and the system comes with an “Instafocus Hood” that diffuses light to help the phone focus faster and easier. Photos taken with the 21x lens can find things you can’t see with the naked eye - just pop one on and then take a photo of the skin on your arm for a really freaky photo. For photo enthusiasts looking to have more fun with their iPhone, pick up one of these. Olloclip also makes an iPad 4-in-1 lens ($70), which offers tablet users the fisheye, wide-angle and two Macro lenses (10x and 15x).
ChargerLeash ($20 to $30, depending on phone model): If you travel a lot, chances are that you’ve left one of your device chargers and/or cables in the wall outlet in the hotel room while you were packing to leave. The ChargerLeash solves this problem by adding a small beeping alarm and light that goes off after about 5 seconds after you’ve disconnected the device from the cable (as long as the unit is still plugged into the power outlet). The ChargerLeash doesn’t come with the power outlet plug part (you have to provide that yourself), but you can also plug the ChargerLeash cable into a USB port on your computer. While it’s not a perfect security device, you can hear the alarm if someone unplugs the phone from the cable if you’re at a coffee shop or airport waiting area, for example. The only downside I discovered was when I used this at home to recharge my phone, I had to disconnect the cable from the power outlet to have the alarm shut off - it’s really aimed at reminding you to take the cable with you when you’re traveling.
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