Deck-party tech

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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. Ensure they’ll still be talking about your long weekend bash come Thanksgiving with these picks:

Music’s a must-have for any shindig. In case of inclement weather (or splash-happy swimmers in the pool), an outdoor speaker might be a wise choice. 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. Need more reach? You can build yourself a network of sound by picking up another Acoustic Research wireless speaker; they’ll be compatible with the transmitter too. The set is $99.95 at Best Buy.

A barbecue is a mainstay for backyard parties. But if your grill only gets occasional use, you may want to consider one that can be easily stowed — or one that can even go on the road with you to the beach or the cottage. Coleman’s RoadTrip LXE portable propane grill offers 285 square inches of cooking space heated by two 10,000 BTU burners. When you’re done, it easily collapses down to 36 x 22 x 13 inches. It’s $299.99 at Canadian Tire.

What cookout would be complete without a frosty beverage? Whip up classic drinks — or your own delicious invention — with the Margaritaville Bahamas frozen drink maker. Fill the top reservoir of the drink maker with ice and pop your ingredients into the other, then select how many drinks you want to make. The machine will handle the rest, automatically adding the perfect proportion of ice to make up to 32 ounces of icy goodness. Just don’t lose that shaker of salt. It’s $219.99 at Future Shop.

Here’s an illuminating solution for bug control. These solar lantern stakes zap those unwanted, multi-legged party guests with a 300-volt charge — all the while adding a stylish touch to your patio. The stainless-steel housing protects the lamps from the elements, and the grate surrounding the lights helps keep pets and kids safe. Grab a set of four for $99.95 at

As night falls over your barbecue, your guests may become prone to tripping. (That might be due to nighttime visibility, or to the level of intoxication.) Try lighting their path with a set of LED stepping stones. Each decorative "stone" boasts four no-muss, no-fuss solar-powered LED lights that will automatically turn on at dusk and off at dawn. They’re about $70 for a set of three at