Did you score a new mobile device this holiday season? Lucky you! Or perhaps you received a few gift cards that are burning a hole in your stocking?
For either scenario, you might consider picking up a new accessory for your smartphone or tablet that can extend its functionality, longevity or style.
If you’re not sure where to start, the following are a half-dozen recommendations to help you get more out of your go-to gadgets while on the go.
Talk about a multipurpose accessory. The MobileLite Wireless G2 from Kingston ($44.99) is a small device that does three things: It’s your own personal Wi-Fi hotspot that can stream content, such as HD movies, to five different phones, tablets or laptops at the same time; it’s a portable battery pack for charging up a smartphone twice (4640-milliamp battery); and it’s a portable router for up to eight Wi-Fi enabled devices (with a built-in Ethernet port). What’s more, if you’re running out of space on your smartphone or tablet you can also wirelessly offload photos to a memory card or USB drive connected to the G2, and then safely remove it from your phone or tablet and start photographing again. Free companion apps are available for iOS, Android and Kindle devices.
Tablet and smartphone screens may be ideal for watching video, playing games and listening to music, but their integrated speakers are usually lackluster. Instead, consider a wireless speaker such as the iHome iBN10 ($119.99), a four-driver stereo speaker that works with any Bluetooth-enabled music player, plus it offers near-field communications (NFC) for tap-to-pair support on select models. Along with loud and clear audio from a nearby phone, tablet or other gadget, the minimalist-looking and all-black iBN10 also offers an integrated clock and FM radio (with six presets); an auxiliary jack for non-wired devices (3.5mm cable included); and a full-size USB port to charge up your gear.
What’s your type?
Folios are a popular accessory for tablets as they add some protection and style, and a few of them include a built-in QWERTY keyboard for when you need to take notes during a meeting (or class), type up a document or reply to a number of e-mail messages. Belkin’s Qode Portable Keyboard Case for 7-Inch Tablets ($79.99) fits a wide variety of products, including iPad mini 3, Nexus 7, Kindle HD Fire (7-inch), Samsung Galaxy Tab, Nook Tablet and more. The laptop-style keyboard houses well-spaced keys for speed and accuracy, plus it offers special shortcut keys for controlling media, such as music and movies. Simply pair the Bluetooth keyboard with your tablet once and it’ll remain connected when turned on; when not needed, it folds back flat into the case.
Cast’ your content
Turn your regular television into a Smart TV — on the cheap. Google Chromecast ($35.00) is a small stick that lets you “cast” online video and music from your Android phone or tablet, iPhone or iPad, Mac or Windows laptop, or Chromebook computer. Resembling a USB thumdrive, this small device that plugs into your TV’s HDMI port also works with a growing number of apps — like YouTube, Netflix, Twitch, Crackle, HBO Go, Pandora and Songza — and includes two months of Hulu Plus for free. Users can also mirror what they see on their laptops or Android devices, pushing it from the small screen to the big screen.
It’s a snap
If you like taking selfies with your smartphone, get more of you, your friends and your environment with the Quik Pod Smartphone Selfie Pole ($29.95), an extendable monopod that mounts your phone and lets you raise it up to take the best front-facing pictures possible. When collapsed, the Quik Pod measures just 10.1 inches, but stretches to 29.5 inches when extended. Along with the universal smartphone adapter -— that can even mount larger phones like the iPhone 6 Plus and Samsung Galaxy Note 4 — this pole also includes is a built-in selfie mirror, tripod legs, carabiner, wrist strap and matching carry bag. A $59.90 version of this pole includes a wireless shutter button.
Love music? Dubbed the “world’s most advanced headphones,” the Parrot Zik 2.0 ($399.99) are packed with technologies — from wireless Bluetooth and NFC for instant tap-to-pair connectivity to gesture-based touch controls and app support to sensors that pause the music (or audiobook or podcast) when you take them off your head and resume the moment you put them back on. Available in multiple colors, these great-sounding over-the-ear headphones — designed by Philippe Starck — also benefit from crystal-clear phone conversations (via its built-in mic) and multiple noise-cancellation features thanks to eight internal microphones.