OtterBox Commuter Case for Google Nexus One – review

If you are one of the lucky few that made the switch to the Google Nexus One Android smartphone, then you’ll be well aware of its high price. One of the best ways to protect the phone is with a case – but the number of cases on the market is quite limited, and certainly not as easily available as say, the iPhone.

The OtterBox Commuter Series case for the Nexus One is a two-piece protection solution that actually keeps your phone looking pretty good while keeping it safe from bumps and minor drops.

Unlike some of the other OtterBox cases, this one won’t protect it from being dropped in a pool or onto a concrete floor, but it does help protect the front, sides and rear from day to day injuries. The case consists of a silicone jacket and hard plastic shell. Every part of the phone is still accessible, and ports are protected by silicone plugs.

Putting the case on takes no more than 10 seconds – simply slide the phone into the silicone jacket, and clip the hard shell on.

The case obviously adds a little bulk to your phone – but that is the price you pay for keeping it looking good. The layer of silicone and hard plastic help cushion drops. Power and volume buttons still work perfectly, and the camera, microphone, speaker and sensor openings mean everything works exactly as it should.

The case even comes with a very good screen protector – the three part screen protector went on without a single air bubble thanks to the included microfiber cloth and squeegee applicator.

There may not be many cases out there for the Google Nexus One – but if you regularly take your phone outdoors, this may be the only one you ever need. The OtterBox Google Nexus One case retails for $34.95 and is available directly from If you need a slightly lower level of protection, check out the OtterBox Impact series case – this case trades the hard plastic outer shell for an inner layer of special shock absorbing silicone.

Sun, sand, surf and awesome beach gadgets!

In the “old days”, a trip to the beach involved bringing a folding chair and plenty of sunscreen. Nowadays, that same trip means you’ll need even more sunscreen, but also ways to stay in touch with Twitter, Facebook, Email and the latest news in the Gadling RSS feed.

In this lineup, you’ll find 5 gadgets that can make your beach trip a little more fun, and help keep your gadgets safe from the elements.

Otterbox cases

Lets face it, even though the beach is one of the more relaxing places you’ll find yourself, there are plenty of us that insist on taking the Blackberry, iPhone or other email device along with us. And if there is one thing gadgets hate, it is sun, sand and water. Otterbox is here to protect those gadgets with a full lineup of awesome cases.

Their protection varies from basic, to full body armor with waterproof gaskets. Their mid-range lineup of cases will allow you to take your Blackberry or iPhone to the beach, without worrying about sand clogging your ports.

Price: from $19.95

TriSpecs Bluetooth stereo sunglasses

Look cool and listen to music – the TriSpecs do both. These high quality (Carl Zeiss optics) sunglasses house a pair of Bluetooth headphones, a microphone and music controls. Simply pair the headphones to a compatible Bluetooth device. For a full review of the TriSpecs, click here.

Price: From $199.95

Freestyle MP3 player

If you want music on the beach, but also want to be able to take your player for a dip in the ocean, then check out the Freestyle Audio MP3 player. We took a closer look at this fully submersible device last year.

Not only is the player itself waterproof, the headphones can come swimming with you as well! Included in the package is an arm strap, so you can attach the player to your arm and go our surfing while listening to your favorite tunes!

Price: $89.95

Loksak element-proof transport bags

Last year, Tynan wrote about the Loksak product lineup. Their basic bag is called the aLOKSAK and provides a watertight barrier for your most cherished items.

These are not your household Ziplok bag style container – the aLOKSAK is waterproof up to 200 feet, and is perfect for protecting items like the Amazon Kindle or your iPhone when you enjoy the beach.

Price: from $6.39

Callpod Fueltank

What’s a beach lover to do when halfway through the day, all your gadgets run out of power? The Callpod Fueltank may be able to help you out – its large internal battery and 2 charging ports can fully charge your gadget(s), and keep them running for the rest of the day. Power tips are available for almost every portable gadget out there, and the unit can be recharged using the included AC adapter or the awesome Chargepod.

Price: $69.95

Gadling’s 10 days of gadget giveaways – day 5 – Otterbox iPod or Blackberry case

Welcome to day 5 of Gadling’s 10 days of gadget giveaways.

Today is your chance to win an Otterbox case for your iPod or Blackberry smartphone.

Otterbox cases were recently featured as one of the best travel technology products of 2008 in our top 25 lineup.

These sturdy cases provide an amazing amount of protection and are available in several versions.

Otterbox offers iPod and Blackberry cases for almost every model, including the new Blackberry Bold.

  • To enter, simply leave a comment below telling us about your worst gadget accident.
  • The comment must be left before Friday November 28th 2008 at 5:00 PM Eastern Time.
  • You may enter only once.
  • Three Prize Winners will be randomly selected to each receive one Otterbox case for the iPod or Blackberry (If you win, you will be contacted to confirm your selection).
  • Open to legal residents of the 50 United States, and the District of Columbia who are 18 and older.
  • The total value of each prize is between $19.95 and $49.95 depending on the requested case.
  • Click here for the complete official rules of this giveaway.

Gadling’s Top 25 travel technology products of 2008

Welcome to the Gadling top 25 travel technology products of 2008.

It has been a great year for gadget loving travelers, and I have come across some really fantastic products that have helped make my own trips much more enjoyable.

It was not easy keeping the list to just 25 products, and there should be something for everyone in this lineup. So, without any further delay, I present (in no particular order), the 25 best travel technology products of 2008.


Boingo is the only thing listed in the top 25 that isn’t a physical product.

Boingo provides a service that lets you pay a single monthly fee to get access to over 103,000 different Wi-Fi hotspot locations around the world.

For $59 you get their global traveler plan, which offers unlimited access to any of the locations in the Boingo network.

If you have traveled the world, you’ll have probably stayed at one of the many hotels using Wi-Fi as another source of income. Think of Wi-Fi as the new minibar. With daily rates as high as $30, using Boingo makes perfect sense. Business travelers will certainly appreciate the ability to use a single logon and not have to worry about a different expense for each connection they setup on a trip.

Why it matters to travelers: Saves money and makes getting online around the globe much easier.
Price: From $7.95 for a US only PDA plan, $59 for a global plan
Gadling review: Coming soon.

T-Mobile Blackberry Curve

With all of the mobile phones popping up this year, you’d probably expect me to pick the new 3G iPhone as the most travel friendly phone. Sadly for Apple, it’s actually a Blackberry that is still my favorite pick. The Blackberry Curve on T-Mobile has one very important feature that makes it the perfect pick for global travelers; Wi-Fi calling. The technology is called UMA, and it allows the Blackberry to roam onto a Wi-Fi hotspot signal and behave just like it would on a regular cell tower.

You could be in Japan on a Wi-Fi signal in your hotel, and your Blackberry will be able to make and receive phone calls and text messages just like back home. Of course, because you are not roaming on an international network, you can even make these calls for the same rate as a normal call back home, without the insane roaming rates involved.

Why it matters to travelers: Cheap calls, email, Internet browsing and travel applications.
Price: $99.99
Where: or any T-Mobile authorized dealer
Gadling review: October 15th 2008

Cradlepoint PHS300 personal Wi-Fi hotspot

Several years ago the big development in wireless technology was the availability of broadband 3G wireless access. If you keep your eyes open next time you are at an airport lounge, you’ll see loads of people working on their laptop with a little antenna sticking out the side of the machine.

To me, the biggest development in wireless data this year, came from the Cradlepoint PHS300 personal Wi-Fi hotspot.

The PHS300 turns your 3G modem into a Wi-Fi hotspot. The battery powered device creates a wireless signal ready to use by one person, or an entire conference room. By moving your wireless card out of your laptop, you also save battery life, plus you can move the Cradlepoint router closer to a window to pick up a better wireless signal.

Why it matters to travelers: One modem card can be shared with others, reduces the load on your laptop.
Price: $179.99
Gadling review: August 25th 2008

Eye-Fi wireless enabled SD memory card

Nothing in the photography world has made life easier for me than the Eye-Fi wireless memory card. The Eye-Fi card is a regular SD card, with a built in Wireless adapter.

What this means to anyone taking photos is that they can take a photo and within seconds it will be uploaded to their computer or a photo sharing site of their choice (as long as you are in range of a wireless network).

The card was released last year, but 2008 brought several major updates to their lineup including the Eye-Fi Explore. The Explore adds hotspot access to any Wayport locations, as well as basic Geotagging of your photos.

I’ve become so used to offloading my photos using the Eye-Fi card that I actually lost the USB cable of my previous camera.

Why it matters to travelers: Send your photos home before you leave your destination.
Price: From $79.99
Gadling review: Coming soon

Panasonic Lumix TZ5

In picking my favorite digital camera for 2008, I went through almost 15 different models. When it comes to a camera that is suitable for travelers I looked for several things; it had to be small enough for traveling light, and it had to offer something invaluable for making decent shots.

I’ll admit right away that I am a horrible photographer, I’ve played with digital SLR cameras, but never managed to quite master the art. Since I’m convinced the same applies to many other traveling consumers, I’ve picked the small Lumix TZ5 for this lineup.

The TZ5 is a 9.1 megapixel camera like many other point and shooters on the market. What makes the TZ5 different is its 10x optical zoom and the ability to shoot basic HD video clips.

Why it matters to trav
10x wide angle optical zoom, HD video clips, special “travel” mode for sorting your photos.
Price: $329.99
Gadling review: coming soon

Lenovo Ideapad S10

Every several years something big happens in the computer world. 3 years ago we saw a big shift from desktop PC purchases to notebooks. 2008 was the big year for the Netbook.

This new generation of ultra portable (and ultra affordable) computers has forced every major manufacturer to bring at least one machine to the market. What started with a single design from Asus has now morphed into about 30 different machines. I’ve tried almost every single one of them, but eventually there was just one clear winner for me; the Lenovo Ideapad S10.

This 10″ Intel Atom powered Netbook is perfect for business travelers as it is available with Bluetooth and it has an Expresscard slot (for expansion cards). The Lenovo S10 has a very sleek design, and incorporates the reliability Lenovo is known for. In my personal opinion, the S10 is also the best looking Netbook of the year.

Why it matters to travelers: Size, looks and performance.
Price: From $399
Gadling review: coming soon

SeV Quantum jacket

When you are on the road a lot, you learn to value the importance of pockets. It sounds pretty quirky, but the combination of travel and carrying too many gadgets means you always need more ways to carry them. The SeV Quantum jacket is a stylish jacket made of breathable material. Hidden away all around this garment are 28 separate pockets, including some large enough to carry a water bottle or even a small laptop!

Almost every pocket is linked to the others using the SeV patented “personal area network” which allows you to route cords inside the jacket. The Quantum even features 2 special pockets with clear plastic which allow you to have easy access to your iPod or mobile phone.

Why it matters to travelers: Pockets, lots and lots of pockets.
Price: $250
Gadling review: September 29th 2008

Tom Bihn Checkpoint Flyer

After years of making our lives miserable, the TSA actually used 2008 to help bring some common sense back to the checkpoint. One of their accomplishments was the creation of some better rules for how they treat your laptop. In the past, they were so scared of laptop computers that they wanted every laptop on its own going through the X-Ray conveyor. The new rules allow you to keep it inside an approved bag.

The Tom Bihn Checkpoint Flyer was one of the first checkpoint friendly bags to ship. The bag is made in the USA and features an ingenious folding laptop portion. The bag is very well made, and is full of great little touches like waterproof zippers.

Why it matters to travelers: Every minute saved at the checkpoint is valuable.
Price: $225
Gadling review: October 7th 2008

Altec-Lansing iM237 Orbit MP3 portable speaker

The Altec Lansing Orbit MP3 speaker is the perfect companion for your iPod, iPhone or other music player.

The speaker works off three AAA batteries and allows you to store the audio cord in the bottom.

The Orbit MP3 produces an amazing amount of sound, and despite its tiny size, you’ll easily be able to fill a decent size hotel room with your tunes.

Why it matters to travelers: Room filling audio from a pint sized speaker.
Price: $39.95
Gadling review: October 29th 2008

Creative Labs Aurvana headphones

I’ve had the Creative Labs Aurvana X-Fi headphones lined up for a review for some time, but I’ve been using them so often that I never got around to giving you a full review. The Aurvana X-Fi headphones feature the highly rated Creative X-Fi system for improving the sound quality of your digital music as well as a special mode for creating virtual surround sound when you listen to a movie.

The headphones are even $50 cheaper than that “other” brand of popular noise canceling headphones.

The Creative Labs Auravna X-Fi headphones are quite simply the best noise canceling headphones I have ever used. Included in the package is a sturdy carrying case, adapters for most headphone jacks and an extension cord.

Why it matters to travelers: Combines amazing sound quality with amazing noise canceling features.
Price: $249.99
Gadling review: coming soon

Duracell PowerSource mini battery pack

I like power. Sadly I don’t have much of the influential kind, so I compensate by collecting gadgets that can keep my other gadgets working. The Duracell Portable Power Pack is such a device.

This small rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery pack features a folding USB connector, a second female USB connector and a battery life indicator. A fully charged Duracell battery pack holds enough juice to recharge most of my gadgets at l
east three times.

Why it matters to travelers: Because a gadget without power can be really depressing.
Price: $39.99
Gadling review: coming soon

Peek Email device

Back in September we posted the first ever review of this personal email device.

Peek is a handheld wireless emailer which runs off the nationwide T-Mobile network. For $99 (priced at $79.99 till the end of the year) and a monthly service charge of $19.99, you get unlimited access to your email on the go. There is no contract, and no paperwork involved. You simply give Peek a credit card number, and you are all set.

I like Peek because it delivers on its promise; it does email, and only email, but it does that one thing quite well. Peek was recently voted “best gadget of 2008” by Time magazine.

Why it matters to travelers: Provides simple and affordable email on the go for anyone.
Price: $99.95 ($79.99 till December 31st)
Gadling review: August 26th 2008


The Chargepod by Callpod has completely changed the way I charge my gadgets on the road. In the past I had a complicated array of chargers, cables and splitters. The Chargepod powers off one AC adapter, and can power 6 gadgets at the same time.

Chargepod offers an impressive list of power adapter tips for anything from your Bluetooth headset to the latest portable gaming console. I have yet to run into a gadget that can’t be powered off the Chargepod.

Why it matters: One charger instead of 6
Price: $39.95 for the base unit, or $79.99 for the bundle pack with a selection of power tips
Gadling review: August 28th 2008

Otterbox cases

As gadget prices go up, so does the disappointment when a gadget breaks. Anyone who is on the road a lot will subject their gadgets to all kinds of abuse.

Otterbox produces a lineup of cases that provide several levels of protection. They vary from basic bump and scratch protection, to full water and shockproof protection.

Otterbox cases are available for all iPods as well as most Blackberry smartphones including the recently released Blackberry Bold.

Why it matters to travelers: Take your gadget to the beach, or up a mountain.
Price: From $19.95
Gadling review: September 10th 2008

Amazon Kindle

It’s almost impossible to list “best gadgets” without mentioning the Amazon Kindle. This electronic book reader launched in November of 2007 and has been one of the top selling electronic devices on ever since.

The Kindle was not the first electronic book on the market, but it does something no other eBook can do; wireless downloads of books.

No longer will you have to jump into the book store at the airport to buy another overpriced book, nor do you need to stock your carry-on with magazines and newspapers.

The Amazon Kindle offers it all, in a slick and easy to use package. The usability is slightly questionable, and the page changing buttons are a nightmare to use, but at the end of the day, nothing beats the ability to download a book right before takeoff. In addition to books, the Kindle also offers wireless access to select newspapers, magazines and RSS feeds.

Why it matters to travelers: Never worry about running out of something to read on the road, reduce the weight of your carry-on.
Price: $359 + the price of your reading materials
Gadling review: coming soon

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Product review – OtterBox gear protection cases

In this product review I’m going to introduce you to OtterBox. OtterBox has been producing cases for gadgets for quite some time, and I remember purchasing my first OtterBox case back in Europe almost 10 years ago. Their products are different from most cases you are used to, because they provide a level of protection that goes way beyond just keeping some minor scratches off your precious gadget.

The OtterBox lineup consists of several levels of protection, varying from basic scratch and bump protection, all the way up to full waterproof protection, with enough strength to survive a drop on a concrete floor. All OtterBox cases come with a no hassle lifetime warranty.

To help introduce you to their cases, I’ll give you a closer look at three different styles of OtterBox case, each with a different level of protection. First up will be an OtterBox defender series case for the iPod Nano, second is an OtterBox Defender case for the Blackberry Curve, and finally I’ll show you my 160GB iPod Classic underwater in the sink in an OtterBox Armor case.

OtterBox Defender series case for the 3rd generation iPod Nano

The OtterBox defender series cases are designed to protect your device from the kind of mishaps that happen when you carry your device. The case consists of three parts; 2 form the shell around the iPod, and the third is a rubber “jacket” that slips over the shell. The rubber protects the device, plus it guards the ports from letting any dust in.

Unlike most cases, the Defender case does not leave the scroll wheel unprotected; OtterBox has developed a patented “thin film membrane” to keep dirt and dust out, but still allow you full control of your player.

OtterBox Defender cases for the iPod are available for the 3rd generation Nano, the iPhone, the iPhone 3G, the iPod Touch and the iPod Classic. The cases cost $29.95 for the iPod, and $49.95 for the iPhone. OtterBox also make 2 iPod Defender cases in pink, to benefit the Avon breast cancer crusade.

OtterBox Defender series case for the Blackberry Curve

The OtterBox Defender series case for the Blackberry Curve consists of 5 separate pieces; the first piece is a plastic film that wraps around your Blackberry, 2 parts form a hard plastic shell for around the device, a rubber bumper fits around the entire case, and finally, the whole thing fits in a holster with rotating belt clip. This case turns your fragile little Berry into what can only be described as “a tank”.

Despite being encased in layers of plastic and rubber, you can still access the keyboard, trackball, USB and headphone ports and there are even special dust filters protecting the earpiece and speakerphone from the elements.

The phone slides into the included holster with a reassuring “click”, and the holster even has a magnet embedded to activate the Blackberry sleep mode.

Defender series Blackberry cases are available for the Curve, 8800, Pearl and Bold smartphone lineup. They cost $49.95 each.

OtterBox Armor series case for the iPod Classic

The final case in my review is also the toughest. The Armor series cases provide the most protection in the OtterBox lineup, and have been rated waterproof up to 3 feet/1 meter. Of course, this review would be worthless if I didn’t put that to the test! I put my faith in the designers at OtterBox and submerged my $350 iPod Classic in the sink. Thankfully they were not lying, because my iPod came out of the case bone dry.

The Armor series case has a similar thin membrane as on the Defender series, so you still have full control over the device, but in order to plug your headphone in, they have included a headphone pass-through jack inside the case. When you slide your iPod into the Armor case, the iPod plugs into a headphone jack, and on the outside of the case is another headphone jack, ready to be used with suitable waterproof headphones.

On the back of the case is a removable belt clip, which doubles as a headphone cord wrap.

The Armor case has a silicone seal and a pretty sturdy clip to hold the hinged portions together. With this kind of protection, you’ll be able to take your music to the beach, and not have to worry about sand, the ocean or sun block getting anywhere near your iPod.

The Otterbox Armor series cases are available for the 3rd generation iPod Nano ($29.95) and the iPod Classic ($39.95).