The Gadget Girl: Handheld Helpmates
The fall season is a great time to take inventory of your tech stuff - whether the idea is to buy new headphones or upgrade your laptop. If you're in the market for pocket-size devices that simplify your life and are fun to use, here are two to try. First up, Logitech's MX Air Mouse (below, $150; logitech.com). Mice have evolved over time (the first one was just a wooden shell with two metal wheels), but this cordless wave-and-click wonder does a fancy trick: It works in the air as well as on your desk. Operating within a 30-foot range, the MX uses Freespace motion-control sensors. Just flick your wrist, and you can surf the Web, select and play music, or view photos on your computer while sitting across the room. The sensors transform hand motions into natural cursor controls - so, for example, to raise or lower the volume, you wave the mouse right or left. Listening to tunes? A small circular motion to the right triggers the skip-track command.
Requiring a bit more dexterity is Helio's Ocean ($295 with a service contract, helio.com), a challenger to the Apple iPhone. I've traded in my Motorola Razr for this phone/messaging device. The dual-slider style offers the familiarity of a numeric keypad for phone calls coupled with the convenience of a full QWERTY keyboard for e-mail. Web-browsing on the Ocean's nationwide 3G network is fast and serviceable. I also like the "ultimate in-box," where I can quickly view my many e-mail accounts in one place. And as a habitual text-messager, I love having a gadget that lets me IM on the fly.