Digital World Insider: The Gadget as Fashion Statement

Earbud Untanglers

One thing that annoys me about toting around my iPod is figuring out what to do with the earbuds. I tend to wrap them around the iPod itself, but that usually means I end up losing at least one of the foam coverings on the earpiece. And sometimes the cables unwrap, and tangle. Some cases give you room to store your earbuds, others don't (like the default one that Apple ships with the video iPod). What to do?

Recently I came across a couple of earbud cable organizers. First, from Japan, is the cutesy little Tunewear Tetran. You wrap the cord around the creature's spiky body, and stuff the buds themselves into its mouth. Hey, it even doubles as a stress ball. In the U.S., you can order a Tetran from Dr. Bott. It comes in four colors and costs $13.

If you need something a little more subtle, check out the earPod, which you can order from Cableorganizer.com for $10. All you have to do is wind the cord around the disc, then stuff the buds into the center. You can also use the earPod to shorten the cord while listening, by looping it a couple of times around the teeth.
--Cathy Lu

Girl With a (Blue) Pearl Earbud

This year has seen a considerable surge in the number of consumer electronics products aimed at women, though I'm always a little concerned that many of these marketing efforts seem to be along the lines of "It's for women because it looks nicer." What, men can't accessorize?

Anyway, I just came across ProfitWing's BluePearls Bluetooth headsets, which are "designed for the active woman who depends on technology and complete mobility." The seven stylish headsets, weighing a mere 7.9 grams and featuring a talk time of 18 hours, come with interchangeable face plates in pearl silver, textured black, denim, pink, zebra, cheetah, orange, green swirl and camouflage.
--Emru Townsend

Stylish GPS Navigators

Thales has announced three new Magellan in-car GPS units, and the company is touting the models as small, stylish, and easy-to-use. (Phew--you wouldn't want your GPS to not be fashionable.)

The top-of-the-line Magellan RoadMate 6000T (price not yet announced, due out in July) includes tons of extras, including the ability to hook up to a Bluetooth phone, built-in real-time traffic receiver, internal battery, a Secure Digital Card slot for playing MP3 or WMA files, and photo viewer (because cruising down the highway is the perfect time to admire pix of the kiddies). It's also capable of speaking the names of streets, which is much more helpful than "turn right in 300 yards."

Thales also announced the $599 Magellan RoadMate 3000T (due out soon) and the $649 RoadMate 3050T (due in June). Both feature a 3.5-inch color touch screen, integrated battery, a photo viewer, a music player, and maps preloaded on the hard drive. The 3050T comes with the TrafficKit accessory and 3 months of service for live traffic reports and automatic rerouting. The 3000T, however, requires you to shell out $149 for the TrafficKit accessory and 15 months of service.

If you need a GPS unit right now and you want something tried-and-true, read "Never Ask for Directions Again," our comprehensive roundup.
--Cathy Lu

Nifty Olympus Digicams

Photography snobs tend to turn their noses up at point-and-shoot cameras, and I'll confess that I often steer clear of them as well. But there's something to be said about simplicity, especially when it comes to taking spontaneous snapshots.

Okay, enough rationalizing. Olympus's two new Stylus cameras, the 710 and the 720 SW, are quite nice at first glance. I mean that literally as well as figuratively: the 710's curved body looks like something out of an late-'90s science-fiction movie, and has that it-feels-so-natural-I-don't-want-to-put-it-down form and weight that makes the iPod so seductive. The more rectangular 720 SW looks a bit more functional, but that's probably because it's waterproof at up to 10 feet and shockproof (it can withstand a 5-foot drop).

Both cameras have an effective resolution of 7.1 megapixels, 28 shooting modes, 30-frames-per-second video capture, 6 to 37 fps sequential shooting, and up to 1600 ISO. But my favorite feature is the collection of built-in guides for walking newbies through the steps required to take shots in different conditions.
--Emru Townsend

Short Takes

Charge Your Gadgets While You Tote: Ever start a busy day realizing that you forgot to plug in your PDA, cell phone or--horrors!--digital audio player? If you want to make sure your gadget has enough juice to survive the day, you might want to consider Backup-Power.ca's line of solar bags. Plug the cigarette-lighter adaptor from any device short of a laptop into the bag's connector and it'll charge up while you're working remotely.
--Emru Townsend

Tiny MobiBLU's Cube 2: Late last year Korean maker MobiBlu released the insanely tiny DAH-1500 MP3 player, aka the Cube. DAPReview reports that MobiBlu has a successor up its sleeve. The Cube 2 sports a color OLED and a different set of controls.
--Emru Townsend

Be sure to visit the Digital World blog often to keep up-to-date on the latest high-tech gadgets and cool software.
  
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