Those of you who know me, know I love gadgets! I buy them, try them, use them, sell them… a constant stream of techie gadgets flows through my life.
Here are two that I’m really glad I bought recently, because they are useful for my “location-flexible life!”
First let’s talk about the router. Have you ever been somewhere where the wifi just wasn’t strong enough? Maybe you had to move around to different locations within a room to get enough signal bars? This device solves that.
I used to have an Apple Airport Express and that’s a great solution if you’re in a hotel room with an ethernet jack. You can plug it in and set up your own little network to put all of your computers and mobile devices on, without being charged for each of them (as some hotels do). BUT…. you need an ethernet jack in the room for that to work.
It’s becoming more common to stay in places that don’t provide ethernet connections, only wifi. When I asked the managers of the apartment that I reserved for this month about the wifi, they said that it would work well in my apartment, except for the bedroom.
Of course I love using my iPhone in bed to read news, Tweet, get on Facebook, and read Kindle books, so I started looking for a solution. That’s when I found the ZuniConnect router.
The thing that makes it special is that it can extend a wifi network. Before you get excited about using when you’re traveling without a laptop (like when you only have your iPad)…. wait. It won’t work for that. That’s because you need to set it up with a computer’s ethernet jack the first time you use it in each location.
So it’s not for bringing to your local wifi cafe to use with your smartphones and tablets. But it’s perfect for a place where you have a laptop with ethernet and you’re going to use wifi in that place for a while (like this apartment!) Once you set it up, from then on you can use it with any device, iPad, iPhone, etc.
To use it, I had to get an ethernet adapter for my MacBook Air (good thing to have anyway). The router comes with easy instructions for the first-time setup. You plug it into your laptop with the included short ethernet cable for the setup. Once you go through a few steps (you can set your network name, assign a password, etc), then you can unplug it from your computer and put it anywhere in the room near an outlet (it needs to be plugged in).
It sends out its own wifi signal, covering much more area than the original network.
So in this one-bedroom apartment, I use my MacBook Air mostly in the living room on the wifi of this hotel/apartment complex, and I use my iPad and iPhone anywhere, including the bedroom, by connecting to the travel router’s network.
I even found that it sends my signal to the restaurant across the street! Handy, since I don’t have a data plan on my iPhone in Mexico yet!
It comes with its own carrying case and a short ethernet cable and power cord. It’s really small and light. Perfect for bringing on a trip! The price is currently about $50 on Amazon (about half of what an Apple Airport Express costs). By the way, I sold my Airport Express on Craigslist which covered the cost of this new router.
I’m totally happy with it!
Now, about the speaker. This speaker is tiny! It comes in a small clear jar, designed to look like a “jam” jar…. like strawberry jam. Corny, I know. Comes in different colors, too. I chose “apricot.”
It’s got good sound for such a tiny speaker! It doesn’t weigh much. You charge it by plugging the included USB cable into your computer or into wall power with the plug adapter. It’s nice that you never have to buy batteries for it.
Once it’s charged, you connect it to any device that has Bluetooth (like my MacBook Air, my iPhone, my iPad, and most other computers and mobile devices). For those who don’t know, Bluetooth is a short-range wireless technology used for speakers, mice, and other small devices that are used near the item they are interacting with.
I just finished watching an episode of Mad Men on my MacBook Air using this speaker. Sounded great. And I didn’t have to lug a big expensive speaker with me to Mexico! The only thing I don’t like is that when the battery dies, it just suddenly stops without warning and you have to plug it in to charge it again. You can still use it while charging, but it needs to be plugged in.
It’s currently $39 on Amazon. I like it for travel. If I wanted to spend more and carry something a bit heavier, I would get a Jawbone JAMBOX speaker. They have more power, great sound and are getting rave reviews everywhere. You can get one of those on Amazon for $129. But I’m happy with the little, cheaper speaker for my purposes.
I sold three other portable speakers to friends of mine before I left, which more than covered the cost of this device. That goes back to my idea that I don’t really own anything, I just use it for a while and the price I pay is a rental for the time I have it. (For more thoughts on that, see my post: Getting rid of stuff and feeling happy about it). I will sell both of these devices someday. Maybe you’ll be a happy owner of one of my devices in the future!
- Gadgets I sold recently (to friends and people on Craigslist)
- FutureShop : How the New Auction Culture Will Revolutionize the Way We Buy, Sell, and Get theThings We Really Want (This book influenced my thinking about buying and selling electronics. The internet makes it easier to sell things than it used to be).
NOTE: Links to the items I recommended are Amazon affiliate links, so I’ll get a little bit of money if you buy through those links (not sure how much, because I’ve never received a payment from any affiliate links yet!)