Friday, October 15, 2010

New Gadgets from IPEVO

I am starting to appreciate IPEVO's innovations more and more! Even though they are a consumer-oriented company, many of their items are useful for schools and support of teaching and learning. Of course, the IPEVO Point 2 View document camera has been a big hit in my district and everywhere else I demo it.

I got the chance to take a look at three new gadgets from IPEVO. The first is the Icon Power Pack for iPhone and iPod, an external battery charger for these devices. I have used the Kensington Mini Battery Pack for a number of years, and have always been happy with it. I cannot tell you how many times an external battery has helped me out, especially with the earlier iPhones with the shorter battery life.

The Icon works in the same way. You charge it via a USB port on your computer, then, when you plug it into the 30-port connector on the iPhone or iPod, the handheld recharges itself from the Icon. The blinking lights on the Icon let you know how much battery life is left for charging.

The Icon is rated to give 3 hours of additional talk time, or 5.5 hours of Internet use, or 18 hours of additional audio playback for the iPhone 3/3gs or iPhone 4. I can definitely see having a few of these on-hand in classrooms that are piloting 1-to-1 iPod or iPod Touch initiatives, especially when going out in the "field".

The second gadget I tried out was the Open Stereo Headphones. These headphones are the over-the ear type, sit outside of the ear canal and are quite comfortable. They have an in-line remote and mic for use with iPods and iPhones. However, the coolest feature is they allow you be aware of external sounds even while listening to music with the headphones on!

I tested it out today in a 7th grade computer class, where students were working on projects, and discussing content and navigation and set-up aloud the entire time. I could easily listen to music at a fairly high volume, and still hear what they were saying as well as the teacher giving instructions. I let a few of the students try them out, too, and they were impressed. If a computer lab had a classroom set of these, there would be no more hand signals or flicking off of classroom lights to get the student's attention. In addition, students would no longer have to raise their voices (as 7th graders are wont to do) when both wearing headphones and talking loud when trying to get the attention of another student.

When I showed them to the computer teacher, her only concern was examining them to see how rugged they were, since they would have to put up with five classes of middle schoolers each day. I am not sure of that, but I do know there are not many larger, more expensive headphones that have been able to withstand the middleschooler, either!

The third new gadget I tried out was the one I had the most fun with -- the IPEVO Tubular Wireless Speakers.

These portable speakers come connected together in an easy-to-transport tube. To use them, they twist apart to reveal a USB connection for charging with the computer in the base of one and an audio cable to connect the speakers together in the base of the other.

These speakers attach to the iPod, the iPod Touch, and the iPhone via a Bluetooth pairing connection, and they should work with any laptop or device that has Bluetooth capabilities.

I easily paired them with my iPad, and then carried the speakers throughout my house, streaming the music wherever I went! In a classroom setting, these would be very useful for sharing audiobooks and podcasts in small groups of students, or even with the entire class.

(One tip: I found that I needed to make sure the two speakers were attached to one another via the audio cable BEFORE doing the pairing with the iPad in order to get sound from both speakers.)

Can't wait to see what IPEVO comes up with next!