Gadget roundup: Personalized charging cables, thermal imaging thermometer, mobile device memory and the coolest alarm clock ever

Tiny devices that can recharge your devices or wake you up or let you know if you're sick

Toddy Gear personal cable
Toddy Gear

We’re back from some travel and video work to present you with a bunch of quick reviews for the gadget fan (either you or someone you know). Is there a theme this week? Not really, just a bunch of cool stuff I’ve been playing with recently.

The scoop: Toddy Gear personalized Toddy Cable, about $12 (Kickstarter project, other options are available so you can donate more and get more stuff in return) 

What is it? It’s a Lightning charging cable for your iOS device that has a personalized message on it - whether it’s your name or some other funky design (see photo at the top of this page).

Why it’s cool: If you have co-workers, family members or complete strangers that are taking your charging cables, at least now they’ll think twice before taking it because it HAS YOUR NAME ON IT. 

Grade: 5 stars (out of five)

Arc Devices InstaTemp Thermometer ARC Devices

The scoop: Arc InstaTemp non-touch thermometer, about $40

What is it? Using thermal infrared technology, this digital thermometer is quite possibly the easiest thermometer you’ll ever use. No more sticking things in your mouth, armpit or other warm areas - this thermometer is simple as aiming at the person’s forehead, and pushing/releasing a button. Arc says that the thermometer is accurate within 0.4 degrees (plus or minus). The display can show the temperature in Fahrenheit or Celsius.

Why it’s cool: The biggest reason is that you can take someone’s temperature when they’re sleeping - obviously beneficial for parents of young children wh you don’t want to wake up to see whether their fever is going up or down. No physical contact is needed, unlike the ones you place under your tongue or the ones where you swipe something across the forehead.

Some caveats: The display goes away after about 4 seconds, so you have to be quick on reading the temperature. I think this is done to extend the device’s batteries - it uses two AAAA (quadruple-A?) batteries, which can’t be replaced. This does come at a higher price tag - $40 compared with other digital thermometers, which you can get for $10. If you don’t have babies or young children, this becomes more of an investment (with my kids all over the age of 6 now, they don’t seem to mind the under-the-tongue method too much).

Grade: 4 stars (out of five)

Leef iBridge Leef

The scoop: leef iBridge mobile memory, $60 (for 16GB; versions up to $400 for 256GB

What is it? It looks like a USB memory stick that sat out in the sun a little bit too long, and started to warp/curve at the bottom. But this design is intentional, as the second end of the device has a Lightning connector. The stick provides 16GB of additional memory capacity, so you can expand the memory of your IOS device (iPod, iPhone, iPad) by connecting it to the iBridge. The device comes with an extra cover/cap if you want to store it in a bag without getting dirt on the Lightning or USB connector parts. Connecting the iBridge to your mobile device for the first time installs the MobileMemory app (via the App Store). Once installed, the app lets you view your content and transfer files to/from the iBridge. You can also click the “iBridge Camera” area and any photos you take will store directly on the iBridge instead of your phone. The first time I connected, the app asked whether I wanted my photos backed up, which was nice.

Why it’s cool: Having the extra memory is cool if you’re always doing memory/storage management on your phone or iPad, it’s also a quick way to transfer files from one device to another. The app is designed well, it also gives you the option of storing content from apps, letting an app access photos, music, videos and documents from the iBridge stick instead of the mobile device’s storage.

Some caveats: Getting data from your computer to the iBridge takes a LOOOOOONG time. A 1.8GB file took almost five minutes to transfer, which makes me think this USB is a 2.0 port, not 3.0. In addition, doing the photo backup, if you have a lot of photos (I had about 2,500 on my phone) can take a long time, which drains the battery of your phone (the backup also pauses if the phone goes into sleep mode or if you switch to another app).

Grade: 3.5 stars

Kube Systems Qi wireless charging Kube Systems

The scoop: Kube Systems Charging Station with Bluetooth Audio and Alarm Clock (Model KS Clock), $179 (for wireless charging version)

What is it? This might be the smallest device I’ve ever seen that packs so many useful features. First, it’s a cube-sized alarm clock, with alarm time set buttons, snooze button and a digital display that can dim via ambient light sensor. Next, is a device recharge station - if you have a phone with the Qi charging option, you can recharge wirelessly through a spot on the top of the unit. If you don’t have Qi (iOS devices), don’t worry - you can still recharge it via three separate cables that wrap around the cube as part of the design - a Lightning cable, a Micro-USB cable and one of those older 40-pin iOS adapters (great for my daughter’s old iPhone that I converted to an iPod). If you’re still not happy with your charging options, there are two additional USB ports if you want to attach your own cables. As they used to say in those old commercials, “But wait, there’s more!” For listening to music, the system has two speakers, and you can play music via an included audio cable (plugs to an AUX IN port on the back), or you can go the Bluetooth route. Finally, there are additional buttons on the bottom of the unit, with the ability to adjust the clock for Daylight Savings Time, as well as hour and minute settings.

Why it’s cool: All of those features come in such a small package that you can take this with you on your travels for an instant speaker system, recharging dock and alarm clock. In fact, Kube Systems does a lot of business with hotel chains, so chances are you might see one of these in your room the next time you travel. It’s hard to think of anything that was missing from this unit.

Some caveats: Oh yeah, one thing - there’s no AM/FM radio inside it, if you like to wake up to radio. But you could solve that by just having a streaming radio app on your smartphone and using that. One other very small nitpick - the charging cables that wrap around the box are too small - but I understand that they have to be in order to fit into the box. However, this caused some issues when I wanted to listen to music and recharge my device at the same time. This issue can be solved by just connecting a larger recharge cable to the USB and then playing music via Bluetooth, so I can’t ding them too much for that (or at all, really).

Grade: 5 stars

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