The Toys of Summer


This article originally appeared in 24hrs Vancouver on June 25, 2008.

The weather has finally turned a corner and it’s time to get outside. While you’re on the move this season, check out these toys for summer to help you get the most from the season.

Duracell PowerSource Mobile 100 [$109 at TigerDirect]

duracell powersourceThe summer is all about getting out of town. Whether it’s a short escape to a local lake, a backpack throreugh the alleys of the old country, or a complete road trip down the coast, you’re going to need some juice for your gear.

The Duracell PowerSource line of products gives you pocket sized rechargeable power for your USB devices. Your cell, Blackberry, iPod, digital camera and more can easily get an extra jolt of volts.

Susan Fisher has been testing out the PowerSource Mini which will be released in a few weeks.

“It fits in my purse and lets me charge my BlackBerry and iPod anywhere.  I don’t carry extra charge cords for each device – just the AC charger that charges the Mini.”

I’m a fan of the Duracell PowerSource Mobile 100 which will have the addicted blogger’s laptop juiced up deep in the woods. You could also add an extra 96 hours of playtime to your mp3 player or spark up a portable dvd player for a cold, rainy night in the tent.

The Flip Ultra [$159 at WalMart]

Vancouver money blogger, John Chow, loves his Flip Ultra.

“It’s very simple to use – just point and shoot,” he says. ”Yes, I can do that same thing with my digital camera but people think you’re taking their picture when you use a digicam.”

flip ultraThe Flip has a USB attachment on the side that flips out, hence the name. When you hook it up to a Windows computer you can trim the beginning and end of your video and then one click it on to the web at YouTube to share.

“Video quality is very good for such an inexpensive device – it’s perfect for YouTube,” says John. “The quality will never beat a dedicated camcorder, or even most digital cameras. However, if you use the Flip for what it’s intended for, you’ll have no complaints.”

At $169, The Flip makes for a fun party cam, perfect for spontaneous shots at a wedding, party, or barbecue. The buttons are big enough, and the device is easy enough to use that you could just hand it to one of your kids to be designated videographer for the vacation.

Microsoft Zune [$249.99 for 80gig at Amazon.ca]

zuneAsk JRFM producer, Dan Motut if you can borrow an “iPod” and he’ll hand you his Zune.

Just released in Canada, the Zune is not only Microsoft’s answer to the iPod, it’s a multimedia player that does many things the iPod can’t.

The Zune has an FM radio runner, a bigger screen than the iPod, online social networking to keep track of what you play, wifi sync, custom backgrounds and when you hook it up with Microsoft’s Xbox 360, it sees all your music, playlists, videos pics and podcasts.

Dan just bought the new Zune 80 and gave his old Zune 30 to his wife “so we use wireless file sharing a lot for pics and music.”

Yes, wireless file sharing. Spot another friend using a Zune and you’ll easily be able to sample their stuff without awkwardly sharing headphones.

Dan takes his Zune on the West Coast Express each morning and also hooks it up when he walks his dog. That’s about 4 hours of Zune time a day, which makes Dan a fan of the headphones that ship with the Zune.

“They’re waaaaayy better,” he emphasizes.

If the 80 gig model is a little big for your needs, check out the 4 or 8 gig models for about $100 less.

RockBand for Wii [$169 at BestBuy]

It’s not like you need help having fun in the summer, but if a big barbecue or get together is planned, you might want to hook up RockBand to the Wii and the tv just off the patio to kick things up a notch.

rock bandThe game was a big buy just in time for Christmas, but Nintendo Wii owners had to wait until this weekend to get in on the action.

Michael Kwan is a huge Rock Band fan.

“There is no better pre-, during, and post-dinner event than to get a bunch of drunken friends together for a jam session in Rock Band.”

You may tell yourself it’s something you’ll turn on to keep the kids occupied while the adults chill with a chilled one in the backyard, but once the temperature drops a bit, you might find yourself running inside to play with them instead of turning on the patio heaters.

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3 Comments

  1. June 25, 2008

    The Duracell PowerCell is the almost the same thing I bought from Canadian Tire and works great. I use it on long car trips to charge electronics and it also has a USB port. Though I would assume the Duracell one uses batteries and doesn’t have a car adapter like mine does. Though they look exactly the same.

  2. June 25, 2008

    That Duracell charger looks pretty nifty. When you’re on a long road trip, it can be hard finding an available wall outlet, let alone being tethered to one for hours at a time.

    Thanks for the link, by the way. 🙂

  3. […] the technology world has to offer. As we prepare for barbecue season, Buzz has compiled his list of the toys of summer. Are you flipping out for the Flip or are you more inclined to rock out with Rock […]

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