Natalia Manzocco, Special to Postmedia Network


Lockitron system. (Supplied)

Hot home security gadgets

Got a packed social calendar over the holidays? Remember, flashy new gifts in empty houses can add up to a tempting target for robbers.

Capitalizing on Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8 platform, HTC's 8X and 8S phones will also feature the operating system's "live tiles" user interface. The 8X, pictured here, has a 4.3-inch HD screen coated in scratch-resistant Gorilla glass. Cellphone photographers will love this one: The 8X pairs an 8 MP low-light lens with a 2.1 MP front-facing, wide-angle lens that can fit four people into your selfies. Both cameras can also shoot 1080p video. And the fashion factor from the phone's snappy cherry, grape and lemon hues definitely doesn't hurt its appeal. The 8X (and 8S) will be available through Bell and Rogers in early November. (Supplied)

Bright ideas

Remember when the first iMacs were unveiled? Before 1999, computers were available in a range of exciting shades: Beige, stucco, ecru, off-white, off-beige and off-off-beige.

It seems geared for commuters or on-the-go professionals, but a cheaper, smaller Kobo could open up the world of e-reading to the younger set. It will be available for $79.99 in early October. (Supplied)

Tech for small scholars

Ask any parent -- today's kids are getting ever more plugged in and switched on to the world of technology.

Apple aficionados will get a lot of mileage out of an iPod or iPhone alarm clock dock like Panasonic's RC-DC1. Though small in size, it's got a huge LCD screen, several dimmer settings and an AM/FM radio tuner. Download the accompanying MeLoad app, and you can manage your favourite radio stations or alarm settings through your phone. It's $59.99 at Future Shop. (Supplied)

Gadgets that will fit in your dorm room

Welcome to residence, college kids. Right now, you're probably staring at your half-unpacked boxes and suitcases thinking, "How am I going to wedge all this stuff into this tiny dorm room?"

The Geneva Model XS is a foldable, portable speaker system that flattens into a water-resistant leather case. Inside that 6.2 by 1.8 by 3.7-inch exterior is a rather potent set of speakers, including two tweeters and a subwoofer for extra bass. It has an integrated digital FM tuner, as well as Bluetooth connectivity (to play back from smartphones and tablets) and a 3.5mm port to play from devices with a headphone jack (a cable is included). It’s $249 at (Supplied)

Travellin' tech

Looking to squeeze a few last hurrahs into your summer? We've got one holiday weekend left, and with a new school year on the horizon and leaves already threatening to drop from the trees, there's no better time to skip town.

The BANG! light comes with a gun-shaped remote control; shooting it at the lamp will extinguish the light and make the lampshade "fall" to the side (for extra realism!) Click it back on and the shade will return to position. Give it a shot: It's US$299 at (Supplied)

Turn your house into a smart home

Ever wanted to be able to bring an entire home's worth of gadgets to life while staying in a single spot? (Nope, the Clapper doesn't count.) A smart home isn't necessarily out of reach: Sophisticated automation abilities have been trickling steadily down into more widely available electronics.

The Vibrock "hockey puck" speaker transmits audio waves through any surface you place it on, turning just about any surface into a gigantic speaker. The company even offers a handy guide on finding the perfect timbre — apparently, wood and metal makes for deep bass tones, fibreboard will mimic vinyl records, and using a wall will fill a room with sound. Imagine what you could do with an apartment full of these bad boys. Pick one up for $54.99 at (Supplied)

On-the-go sound

The warm weather's not over yet — and what's summer fun without a soundtrack? Bringing your tunes with you on the go is easy with the right gadgets, be they easy-to-carry headphones or wireless speakers.

The head honchos behind the Games have released an official results app for Android, iOS, BlackBerry and Windows Phone 7. You can find news and updates, a calendar of events, medal rankings and athlete profiles all in one place. You can even "follow" specific countries to tailor your results. Download your preferred platform at (Supplied)

Go for gadget gold

Whether you're an amateur athlete or an armchair jockey, an all-season sports fanatic or an occasional onlooker, the whole world's got Olympic fever.

SoapTime consists of a base and a set of three accompanying soap bottles (earth, elephant and ABC-themed). Plug one in, and the base will recognize it, playing a set of songs and factoids as well as a pulsing LED light show. Each time you pump (up to 2,500 times on a set of AAA batteries) the unit will spring to life for 20 seconds — the amount of time experts recommend scrubbing your hands at the sink. A SoapTime set, including a base and three soap bottles, is $16.97 US, while a refill set of soaps is $10.47 US at (Supplied)

Tech teaches, too

Somewhere, a frustrated parent standing by the bathroom sink with a stone-faced toddler is musing: "Wouldn't it be easier to teach kids about boring stuff like safety and hygiene if they just made a video game out of it?" Thankfully, the tech world has come to the rescue.

Max out productivity while you're out and about with this handy keychain charger. The battery, which is roughly the size of a Zippo lighter and weighs just 4 oz, can restore 30% of your iPhone's power capacity. It's a perfect power solution for those who find built-in battery cases too bulky. Grab one for $35 US at

Chargers are as key as the gadget itself

Technology may be shrinking, ditching wires and becoming more mobile by leaps and bounds, but we're still tied down by the power cable. The finite, seemingly ever-shrinking capacity of batteries (and, of course, the hunt for wall plugs) remains the great equalizer in the tech world.

If it’s a computer you’re after, check out the super-compact Samsung Series 9, which just hit store shelves in Canada. Ringing in at 2.88 pounds and 0.64 inches thick, it packs a processing wallop (it ships with third-generation Intel i5 and i7 processors) despite its slim profile. The 13.3-inch screen size adds to the portability factor. It also boasts a 10-hour battery and fast boot time (just 9.8 seconds). The Series 9 starts at $1,299.99 (for the i5 version) at Best Buy. (Supplied)

Faster and smaller

You can't deny the appeal of a great home office -- a well-organized space built for productivity and efficiency, steps away from the comfort of your bed (and the snacks in your kitchen).

Acoustic Research’s AW850 speaker/wireless transmitter set will add a touch of class to the proceedings with its elegant bronze lantern-style design (fittingly, it also includes a lamp). The accompanying transmitter, which works with everything from stereos and computers to iPods and other mp3 players, broadcasts sound up to 150 feet from the source. The set is $99.95 at Best Buy. (Supplied)

Deck-party tech

Fill the coolers and fire up the barbecue -- Canada Day weekend is here! You might understandably want to keep your gadget collection far away from fireworks, open flames, swimming pools, or slip 'n' slides, but the right tech will take your party to the next level.

Samsung's HW-E450 sound bar creates "virtual" surround sound without taking up the space needed for an entire suite of speakers. It also includes a wireless subwoofer that can go anywhere in the room to further heighten the effect. It's HDMI and Bluetooth compatible, and can be mounted flat on the wall; if you really want to treat dad right, volunteer to set it up for him. It's $349.99 at Future Shop. (Supplied)

Be dad's favourite

Browsing aisles full of "World's Best Dad" coffee mugs for the fourth year running? This Father's Day, get Dad a gift he can actually use.

In addition to the usual heart rate, pace and distance functions, explorer types will appreciate the Suunto's feature-heavy Ambit training watch's built-in compass, temperature info and GPS. Fitness junkies in the meantime will love that you can set your own waypoints and analyze your workout data with the watch's USB hookup. It's $525 at Mountain Equipment Co-op (if your workouts are a little less "extreme," GPS-equipped training watches start at about $160). (Supplied)

Amp up your activity

Get out of the gym and into the sunshine! The season for outdoor activity is well underway (you warriors who suit up and go running outside in January notwithstanding). These gadgets can help you get the most out of your workout.

The TopSecret USB drive is an elegant porcelain memory stick meant to be sealed with a melted wax stamp, like sensitive letters and documents in the olden days. You can select the colour of the body, the wax seal and the letter on the stamp. (You can also choose from 2GB, 4GB and 8GB versions of the drive.) The kit sells for about $80 at, and pre-sealed versions are also available. (Supplied)

High-class, high-tech

If you're like most people, your office space consists of a particle board desk and a worn-out swivel chair. Perhaps, however, you aspire to toil at a handsome mahogany desk, surrounded by many leather-bound books? Even if your place doesn't have anything remotely resembling a "study," a touch of luxury can go a long way.

The Dropcam HD room monitor system sells itself on its super-easy installation process — just hook the camera up to your computer once and give it a wireless network to connect itself to, and you've got streaming video. Its wide-angle lens captures plenty of detail; you can zoom in on specific areas of interest, and the camera's infrared technology lets you see what's going on even after dark. Dropcam is $149 US per camera unit at (Supplied)

Guarding your gadgetry

If you're a tech lover, your place likely boasts its share of computers, home theatre equipment, and other gadgetry -- the sort of things that can be mighty attractive to thieves.

Reliable protection meets customizable whimsy in Incipio’s Dotties case. The sturdy silicone sleeve comes with a selection of colourful spots that plug into the back, letting you switch them around to suit your outfit or your mood. It’s available in six colours at for $19.99. (Supplied)

Just in case

The only thing more inescapable in the tech world than the iPhone might have to be the glut of Apple-friendly cases, holders and chargers it's spawned.

IDAPT's i1Eco device charger is made of recycled materials, and its auto-off system will stop the flow of energy after your device is charged. Environmental pros aside, you can use the device to charge two gadgets at once. Pick one up for $29.99 at (Supplied)

Green gadgetry

Earth Day weekend is the perfect time to appreciate this fine planet we call home. Take a walk in the park. Work on your garden. (At the very least, think twice before you throw that pop can in the garbage bin.)

If you want to capture some light for the back of your iPhone 4 (and are handy with a screwdriver), you may want to try this iPhone modification kit from The kit comes with everything you need to illuminate the Apple logo on the back. Installation is fairly simple. The kits are currently $49.99 US at (Supplied)

Bright ideas

It's finally getting brighter outside. Indoors, however, the glow probably never went away. In recent years, tech companies have caught on to the novelty value of shoehorning little blinking bulbs into every gadget possible.