Handy Gadgets--a Tiny Tripod and a Portable Speaker Case

My editor said it's summer and she's spending lots of time outdoors. "How about some music and camera stuff, Bass?" LOL--do your own research, I thought, but instead gave her my old Army "Yes, ma'am." So this week I dug up a cool, little tripod and a small speaker case that packs a lot of sound. Oh, yeah, and some time wasters you ought to save for the July holiday.

Gorillapod: A Handy, Small Tripod

Joby's Gorillapod has a strange name, but this little tripod is super handy. The legs are sturdy and flexible, and strong enough to hold a compact digital camera (or an MP3 player or even a small GPS, though I can't imagine wanting to).

You attach your device to the tripod using a standard 1/4-inch tripod screw or for light items, and if you're brave, a suction cup. The tripod screw and suction cup attach to the tripod with a quick-release clip. There's also a way to permanently mount the tripod to something, but it's not something I'd guess lots of people would use. You can pick one up for about $22. If you have a heavier SLR, you'll want the Gorillapod SLR, about $40.

If you don't have a tripod, this is a cool one to throw into your camera bag.

Quick tip: It's pretty straightforward: You designate a charity and for every search you do, GoodSearch donates 50 percent of its revenues to your designated charity. The money comes from GoodSearch's advertisers. If you don't have a favorite organization, you can choose from a lengthy list of worthwhile groups.

iMainGo 2 Speaker: Small, Cheap, and Sounds Good

If you have an iPod--actually, any MP3 player--and want to share your music with your buddies, the iMainGo 2 portable speaker case is perfect. (On the other hand, if you're in the next campsite, do me a favor and use your headset.)

The iMainGo is simple to use: Unzip the case, insert your player, plug in the connector, zip it up, and start listening. If you're using an iPod, it's especially handy because you can work the controls without unzipping. Me, I've got an old, no, ancient Samsung MP3 and fiddling with the controls means opening the iMainGo. The iMainGo is versatile, too. I used it while listening to a movie on my notebook. It was awkward, but I opened the iMainGo, propped it up with a book, plugged it into the notebook's speaker port and happily had good sound.

The sound from this $40 speaker case is better than decent; it's actually quite good. The battery life is purported to be 30 hours (check the specs), but that depends on the player you're using. Inserting the four AAA batteries it takes is a royal PITA--the compartment is small and my fingers are big.

One thing I didn't like was having to open the case to turn off the speaker. When I didn't think to do that, those AAAs were quickly destined for the recycle bin.

This Week's Roundup of Time Wasters

Have a few minutes? Find out how you can waste them on motorcycles, bicycles, and crammed subways.

A couple weeks ago I mentioned the Uno, a weird motorcycle that looks like a motorized unicycle. Yamaha just topped that with its wearable cycle.

But wait, this just in: The HyperBike, designed by Curtis DeForest, isn't wearable, but it sure looks cool.

My cousin Judy often complains about the crowding on New York subways. Compared to Japan, I say, Ha! Watch the video and start cringing. (Though at least the "assistants" are wearing white gloves. That's reassuring. --Editor.)

Learn to fly here! I think not… but not to worry, the pilot walked away--and probably asked the school for a refund.

Do you struggle to keep time while traveling abroad? Try on one of these cool time pieces for plenty of help.

Steve Bass writes PC World's monthly "Hassle-Free PC" column and is the author of "PC Annoyances, 2nd Edition: How to Fix the Most Annoying Things About Your Personal Computer," available from O'Reilly. He also writes PC World's daily Tips & Tweaks blog. Sign up to have Steve's newsletter e-mailed to you each week. Comments or questions? Send Steve e-mail.

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