Seven ways to enrich—and record—your life.
By Crispin Boyer
Memoto • $279
This is designed for people who leave no meal, mishap, or minutiae undocumented. It’s a stamp-size camera that clips to a shirt collar and dutifully documents the wearer’s life. It snaps a five-megapixel photo every 30 seconds (automatically orienting pics so they’re upright), then uploads its cache to Memoto’s cloud service whenever you plug the camera into a PC for recharging. Each picture is tagged with time, location, and GPS data to help you search for significant moments. All photos are kept private until approved—a crucial safeguard against accidentally oversharing embarrassing personal habits.
Pebble E-Paper watch
Pebble Technology • $150
The Pebble isn’t the slimmest or sexiest thing you can strap to your wrist, but this “first watch built for the twenty-first century” does a lot more than display time and date. It’s actually a Bluetooth-connected extension of your iPhone or Android smartphone. The high-resolution E-Paper display shows text messages and emails, provides caller ID, flashes weather alerts, keeps tabs on Twitter and Facebook messages, controls your music, and runs a growing variety of apps. A bicycling and running app, for instance, taps into your phone’s GPS to display distance and speed. Pebble’s features will be updated over time. Someday you’ll be able to order a pizza, then monitor the pie’s effect on your cholesterol levels in real time.
Aspire S7 Ultrabook
Acer • $1,400 and up
If you think a touch screen is superfluous on a laptop (as Apple’s execs clearly do), then you haven’t tried Acer’s flagship Ultrabook. At 1,920 by 1,080 resolution, its 13.3-inch, 10-point touch screen is easier on the eyes for browsing and document-viewing than most Windows 8 tablets and hybrids. While the backlit keyboard features a trackpad for Microsoft’s new gesture-based commands, you’ll soon find yourself using the touch screen for everything but typing (the screen even folds flat to prevent arm fatigue). Inside the S7’s Gorilla Glass 2 shell, you’ll find top-of-its-class components, including a third-generation i7 processor in the highest-end model, and a dualfan system that keeps your lap cool. The six-hour battery life falls short, but otherwise this Ultrabook is just as portable—and certainly more practical— than any tablet or hybrid.
E701i-A3 70-inch LED Smart TV
Vizio • $2,000
In terms of its cost-to-screen-size ratio alone, Vizio’s 70-inch smart set is the best bargain in boob-tubedom. But this ultrathin LED has more going for it than its thrifty price and nearly six-foot screen. Built-in Wi-Fi offers access to Vizio’s full lineup of Smart TV apps—everything from Skype to the usual movie-streaming services (a QWERTY keyboard on the remote makes searching a snap). The screen itself offers vivid color reproduction and is brilliantly backlit; you’ll never have a dull moment even in a brightly lit room. It maintains its 1,080p resolution at a refresh rate of 120Hz, which makes it adequate for gaming and keeping your eye on the ball in sports broadcasts.
Solid Gray • $180
There’s a reason this backpack looks like a polygonal power-up from a PlayStation 1–era videogame. It’s constructed from a single sheet of polypropene block copolymer—a space-age material that can bend millions of times without snapping. The polymer is machine-folded into a sturdy shell inspired by armadillo hide. The pack can accommodate a 15-inch laptop in its padded main compartment, while smaller pockets hold your phone, wallet, dime bag, etc. The seamless design is water-resistant, although you’ll probably want to spring for Solid Gray’s waterproof cover if you expect to be in heavy rain. (Buyer beware: The company claims the pack suits the cabin requirements of most, not all, airlines.)
VMultra hard drive
Velocity Micro • $200
Sleek PC netbooks and tablet hybrids offer supreme portability at the cost of a few essential hardware features. The VMultra adds those features back, but only when you need them. It combines a DVD reader/burner, a 500-gigabyte hard drive, a digital-card reader, and a 3.0 USB hub into a single svelte peripheral that draws all its power from your machine’s USB connection. Sure, it seems a shame to encumber your sexy device with a clunky external drive—the equivalent of putting Coke-bottle glasses on a Penthouse Pet—but the VMultra does take the hassle out of installing older software and managing your media for long trips.
Geneva • $300
Geneva’s WorldRadio might look like the old transistor model your granddad propped on his knee to listen to the ball game, but it’s actually a high-tech, high-fidelity receiver that can tune in any station near or far. A digital FM tuner picks up all the local signals, while Bluetooth connectivity (or the 3.5mm line input) streams internet radio stations from your smartphone, tablet, or laptop. Sound is surprisingly loud and clear, considering the unit’s small size. An alarm clock on the touch screen and a six-hour rechargeable battery make the WorldRadio suitable for both the bedside table and a tailgate bash.