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november simply kc magazine column: the gadget guide.

november simply kc magazine column: the gadget guide.

November 3, 2011  |  Simply KC Magazine Column  |  No Comments  |  Share  | 

Join me for a little gadget indulgence in my November Simply KC column:

Simply KC November – A Man’s Perspective
The Gadget Guide

We’re men…we love gadgets. There’s no point in trying to deny that, so let’s instead focus our energy on finding the best way to get our money’s worth. There is a lot of garbage out there, and many companies looking to exploit our shameless gadget love. I’m here to help. Below I’ve collected a list of the electronic devices that have had the most significant positive impact on my life and work. There’s no shortage of content available on the subject, so I’ll try to focus on the devices that receive a little less exposure.

Apple iPhone 4S (; 16gb $199, 32gb $299, 64gb $399)
While not obscure, I would like to take an opportunity to address all the negative feedback that followed the announcement of the newest iPhone. I understand folks were excited for a potentially redesigned exterior, but it’s hard to believe that there is so much unhappiness about an improvement on an already great phone. The new iPhone 4S sports upgraded internal components to achieve double the CPU performance while increasing battery life and carrying a drastically improved camera. Maybe those changes aren’t enough to entice current iPhone 4 users to upgrade, but I don’t think that was Apple’s intent. Call me crazy, but I expect my expensive electronics to last more than one year. As a result, I’m still using an iPhone 3GS. For those of us upgrading from that model, the 4S represents a huge leap forward. I’m excited to get mine. Did I mention they sold over 1 million in the first 24 hours of pre-ordering?

USA SPEC iPod/iPhone Interface (; $129)
Although there are many products and methods for connecting your mobile device to your car stereo, most of them are rather unsightly. USA SPEC provides a clean, out of sight interface to connect your iPod/iPhone through the factory CD changer port in your car’s stereo. Connecting in this manner allows for digital sound quality, control of your iPod using the factory stereo/steering wheel controls and song information on your factory stereo display (2006+ model cars). Since it connects to the iPod/iPhone through the dock connector, it also charges the device while it’s plugged in. I keep a dedicated iPod Classic in my center console connected to this system. Boom…60gb CD changer. Pretty slick.

Sony PS3 (; $249)
I’m not a gamer, so can’t speak to the merits of the PS3 on that front. The reason I have a PS3 is that it’s the best value out there as a Blu-ray player and networked media device. The Hulu Plus and Netflix Instant interfaces are fantastic. You also get access to VUDU for full 1080p HD streaming movie rentals. Those are great features, but here’s the kicker: the PS3 is the only way you can access NFL Sunday Ticket without DIRECTV. This is my fourth week with HD streaming of every NFL game, plus the Red Zone Channel, and I can tell you with confidence that I’m a happier man as a result.

Logitech Harmony 650 Remote (; $65)
I’ve never been impressed with all-in-one programmable remote controls. Many times when I’ve gotten a chance to use a friends’ high-end home theater, the overly complicated remote is the weakest link. They seem to always break down, are unresponsive, huge and otherwise a pain to use. For those reasons, I’ve always just viewed my multiple remotes as the lesser of two evils. That changed after I decided to take a chance on the Logitech Harmony 650. I’ve loved using it since the first day I brought it home. In ten minutes, I had connected it to my computer through US, programmed the macros and devices I wanted to use, and was ready to roll. I now have one button on/off functionality to “Watch TV”, “Watch a Movie” or “Connect to PC”. It always works, I’ve never had to replace the batteries and I’ve also found that it emits a stronger IR signal than my previous device remotes. It used to be a struggle to get my TV to respond; I can basically point the Harmony anywhere in the general direction of my components and it responds immediately. Great product. For value and ease of operation, I would recommend getting the simplest Harmony that will satisfy your needs. For me, the 650′s five device maximum was plenty. It still offers a wide range of customization and a color LCD screen. Logitech manufactures a wide array of Harmony remotes with increasingly complicated features and prices (up to $350). Look for a deal on the 650 and don’t look back.

There’s much more I wanted to cover here, including camera equipment and Amazon’s new Kindle Fire tablet. I could discuss the merits of individual gadgets for hours. I hope you found something useful here. Be on the lookout for my December column, “Men’s Holiday Gift Guide”. I’ll try to include any important omissions there.

“A Man’s Perspective” appears monthly in Simply KC Magazine. You can view my archived columns here. If you have any ideas you’d like me to explore, let me know. I’d love to investigate and include them in an upcoming column.