THE Motrr Galileo is an iPhone dock designed for taking perfect 360-degree panoramic images.
It's available for Apple iOS devices in a Bluetooth ($149.95) model and with a 30-pin dock connection ($99.95).
The Bluetooth device works with the iPhone 5/5S/5C, iPhone 4/4S and iPod Touch (5th generation). The 30-pin Galileo is for the iPhone 4/4S, iPhone 3GS and iPod Touch (4th generation).
Both work with many photography apps, all listed on the Motrr site ( http://motrr.com/apps.html ). It's updated as new apps become available but there are already many to choose from including Sphere, TimeLapse, DMD Panorama and many more.
The Motrr app is free but there is a charge for some of the others; for example the Panorama app is $1.99 in the Apple App Store.
The 30-pin dock doubles as a charging station, since it has a built-in rechargeable lithium polymer battery. A standard tripod mount is on the bottom of both versions.
The Galileo seems like an Apple product with its solid construction and white finish (also available in black).
It takes a little getting used to, but after some experiments it worked really well. You'll probably have to take your case off, as I did, for your device to fit in the dock. It works in both landscape and portrait positions.
If it had come out a few months earlier, the Galileo would be my gadget of the year for 2013. But since it didn't, I'll just say it has an early lead for this year's award.
Make your room boom
THE choices for portable speaker system to use with portable media players are endless and growing every day with some great options.
Jongo from Pure is really a complete system. There many options for the system's speakers. You can pair them as a stereo system, a single speaker in different rooms or whatever your choice may be. They can be used inside or out. They support multiple users, come in multiple colours and offer multiple streaming choices.
For one streaming option, to connect to your personal Wi-Fi network, as I did, you'll probably have to read the directions for the setup. But connecting into Wi-Fi to stream audio gives you greater range compared to Bluetooth, which gives you only about 10 metres.
As for the specific pieces used to build a system, I tried out the Jongo T2 and the Jongo S3.
The Jongo S3 ($229) is a desktop/bookshelf-sized portable, rechargeable, wireless speaker and comes in black, white or a mixture called Piano (white body with a black grill) but can be accessorized to coordinate with most any room's decor.
A grille pack ($29.99) of easy-to-fit replacements is available in white, lime green, burnt orange or mango.
The speaker produces 360-degree sound from five internal speakers (four tweeters for 360-degree sound and an upward-firing subwoofer for powerful bass) and can be paired with additional S3s to form stereo sound. More is better but even a single S3 fills the room with sound.
As for the Jongo T2 ($179), it won't fill the room like the S3 but it makes a great choice for background sound where you don't want the volume cranked up.
A pair of 10W mid-range drivers are inside and optional grill covers are available in mango, burnt orange and lime green.
Both speakers can be used with Apple or Android devices using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, along with the Free Pure Connect app.
The company's Pure Connect app lets you turn your smartphone into a remote control for your music and your choice of Jongo speaker output. This includes your personal playlists or access to a never-ending list of radio stations and music.
The app is free, but there are different levels of service within the app that may incur monthly fees. For example the Green level is free, up to the Violet level for $9.99 per month.
Earlier this year, Pure announced third-party app support via Bluetooth, allowing the Jongo system to support all music apps including Pandora, Spotify and many more. This service is expected out in the spring.
Soldier can take it
YOU may want to go anywhere, and take your digital device everywhere. But if you roam too far, you will be without power and your device will fade to black.
The Soldier portable battery is a welcome remedy, especially for the adventurous traveller. This handy 7800mAh battery backup is built for the roughest environments with a waterproof, rugged shock-proof body.
It's built with a standard USB and a microUSB port for charging portable electronics on the go and a flashlight with SOS functionality. LED indicators display the remaining battery life.
A friend recently spent two weeks hiking in Central America, so what better way to test it than to take the backpack-friendly battery along with him.
The Soldier lived up to its name, handling all the rough-and-tumble of two weeks on and off the trail. An accidental dip in a stream verified the company's statement that it's waterproof up to a metre deep for up to 30 minutes.
No electronic device can be a perfect solution for all situations, and this had its own limitations. At an even one pound, it may be a little more weight than some adventurers want to carry. And to recharge the three internal Li-ion 3.7V 2500 mAh batteries, you'll need to include your own USB-to-outlet plug to connect with the supplied cord for an eight-hour charge.
Details: $59.95 at Amazon.com; www.digitaltreasures.com