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Keith Shaw

Cool Tools


Keith Shaw is Network World's reviews editor. Contact him at

Cool Tools Video
Watch Keith's weekly product reviews.

Latest gadgets ease the cruelty of travel
Luckily, gadget-makers understand the cruelty of travel, and are always creating new devices that help the mobile worker/road warrior ease the pain of a hotel room with few outlets, or expensive in-room Wi-Fi. Here are three gadgets I've recently tested that can help you on your next trip:
Seagate's latest: Drive fast, App slow
The data transfer speed improvements that Seagate has made to their drives is remarkably impressive.
Reviews: HP's EliteBook 840 and Logitech's ConferenceCam CC3000e
The notebook features a lightweight yet tough finish, and the latest tech specs; up to 16GB of memory; storage options up to 1TB hard drive or 256GB SSD; 802.11ac Wi-Fi.
Two Cool Tools to entertain the kids during winter, spring or summer vacation
Over the past few weeks we've been snowbound several times, which also included a school vacation week. With my kids asking me for the one-millionth time "What can we do, Dad?", fortunately I had two technology-related items for the column to test out, and they would also appeal to the youngsters as well as adults.
Boost the soft sounds around you; keychain-sized phone charging cable
The scoop: BEAN Quiet Sound Amplifier, by Etymotic Research, about $480 (for one; $860 for two)
Review: Plantronics Voyager Legend CS Bluetooth Headset System and Logitech Mobile Speakerphone P710e
Here are two new devices that can help improve audio quality for voice calls, whether you’re in the office or out on the road.
Review: Yoga 2Pro flexes its multimode Windows 8 options
If you're going to be stuck with a Windows 8 (or 8.1) notebook, you might as well make it as interesting as possible, to help lessen the pain of having to deal with Windows as your operating system.
Having fun with super-fast storage drives
In my role as multimedia content editor for IDG Enterprise, I find myself with lots of video footage, which takes up a ton of storage capacity. Backing up that footage to external storage drives can take a long time, especially if you’re using older transfer technologies, such as USB 2.0. Fortunately, there are some faster devices and transfer connections now available, here are two recent drives (and a docking station) that can help speed up your personal file storage transfer dilemmas:
Reviews: Belkin's NetCam and StarTech's DVI-to-USB adapter
This IP-based network camera provides homeowners with a convenient way to monitor remote surroundings from within the home or across the Internet.
Review: Buffalo's DriveStation DDR hard drive rockets your file transfers
The scoop: DriveStation DDR (HD-GDU3), by Buffalo Americas, about $160 (2TB version) or $200 (3TB version).
SanDisk wireless storage drives excel; wearable MeCam a clunky camcorder
The scoop: SanDisk Connect Wireless Flash Drive (16GB, $50; 32GB, $60) and Wireless Media Drive (32GB, $80; 64GB, $100)
Christmas in July: 11 cool gadget gifts
As you may (or may not) have noticed, the print version of the Cool Tools column is no more. The main reason (about 100%, really) is that the print version of Network World is gone, and it's tough to have a column in a print product that no longer exists.
Review: Olloclip Quick-Flip Case for iPhone 5
I'm a big fan of the Olloclip 3-in-one Photo Lens package (about $70), which gives iPhone users three different lenses (fisheye, macro and wide angle) for taking additional styles of photos. The system is very easy to use - the lenses snap onto the outside of your phone's regular camera lens very quickly.
Logitech impresses with its wireless, business-focused headset
The scoop: Logitech Wireless Headset Dual H820e, by Logitech, about $200 (mono version costs about $180).
DAS Keyboard gets quieter; portable speaker lets you groove on the road
Shaw reviews Das Keyboard's latest high-performance mechanical keyboard and's GOgroove BlueSYNC SRC Portable Bluetooth Speaker and Receiver.
Seagate's Central hits a home run in the NAS game
Shaw reviews the Seagate Central network-attached hard drive.
BlackBerry fans should like the Z10; not sure about other smartphone fans
Shaw reviews BlackBerry's Z10 smartphone.
NAB show roundup: Cool gear for videophiles
I've spent the past few days at the annual show for the National Association of Broadcasters, also known as NAB. The trade show, held in Las Vegas, features events and products geared toward television and radio stations, as well as filmmakers and other video creators.
Muted excitement for latest Toshiba Android tablet
Shaw reviews Toshiba's Excite 10 SE tablet and HP's EliteBook Folio 9470m Ultrabook.
Wireless audio enhances two new gadgets
Shaw reviews Roku's Roku 3 Internet streaming TV box and Jabra's Revo wireless headphones.
Review: TelyHD Business Edition
A group of my colleagues from different offices recently attempted a multi-party videoconference, brutally showing the continued need for a better method of video communication. 
FreedomPop: Great idea that needs a better network
Shaw reviews the FreedomPop Photon.
Verizon's latest 4G mobile hotspot impresses
Shaw reviews Verizon's Jetpack 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot MiFi 5510L.
WD ups its streaming TV game with WD TV Play
Shaw reviews Western Digital's WD TV Play, by Western Digital.
Pre-spring cleaning the Cool Tools offices
We're in our post-holiday, post-CES cleanup (pre-spring!) in the Cool Tools offices, so here are some rapid-fire reviews of things we've been toying with over the past few weeks:

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