This week I tested two new products which fit this bill: the new Jawbone Bluetooth headset from Aliph and the Polaroid PoGo.
The Polaroid PoGo is a compact mobile photo printer that could recapture the magic people felt when they used Polaroid's iconic instant camera for the first time. It weighs 8 ounces and prints photos from a cell phone via Bluetooth or from a digital camera via USB.
One of the coolest things about the printer is that it doesn't use any ink. Instead, it uses thermal paper called "ZINK" (for zero ink), which produces the colors needed to print photos when heated. The PoGo creates 2x3 prints with adhesive backs so you can use them as stickers. Unlike the original Polaroid photos, the pictures do not need to dry so you don't need to shake them. And you get to choose which photos to print, so if you take a bad photo, you don't waste money printing it.
The ZINK paper costs $4 for a pack of 10 or $10 for a pack of 30.
Of the hundreds of products I saw at this year's Consumer Electronics Show, the PoGo (which previously had the less hip name: "Polaroid Digital Instant Mobile Photo Printer") was the only one that really captured my imagination. The device struck a similar chord with co-workers when I demonstrated it in the office this week; a few of them were excited that they could finally free pictures of their children from their cell phones.
I was disappointed that it does not work with all Bluetooth phones. Jon Pollock, a Polaroid spokesman, said the PoGo is compatible with about 80 percent of the Bluetooth phones sold during the past two years. I tested it with 11 phones and was only able to print from five of them. One phone that's noticeably absent from the list of compatible phones on Polaroid's Web site is the Apple iPhone.
If the PoGo does work with your phone, it can be tricky to figure out how to print from it. Polaroid lists phone-specific instructions on its Web site, but not all compatible phones are listed. So before you buy, check to see whether your phone is compatible and make sure you can return the device if necessary.
The PoGo can also print photos from a PictBridge enabled digital camera, but the quality of the photo prints isn't as good as a photo or multifunction printer.
Despite the flaws, the PoGo is a fun gadget that could come in handy at parties or on long trips. You could set it on a table at a family reunion and have guests take pictures with their phones and instantly print them. It has a rechargeable battery, so you can throw it in a backpack, purse or jacket pocket.
Pollock said the PoGo is primarily aimed at 13- to 25-year-olds, but he did say Polaroid is planning similar products, including printers that produce 3x4 and 4x6 prints and possibly a combination camera and instant printer, which would truly be the successor to the old Polaroid cameras. The larger size prints should make the device more appealing to adults and business users, Pollock said.
The PoGo will go on sale at Best Buy on July 6 and at Target on July 20.
Jawbone Bluetooth headset ($130, jawbone.com)
The Jawbone headset is the Rolls Royce of Bluetooth headsets. It's the most stylish, most comfortable and best sounding Bluetooth headset I've ever used. Not once while using it did anyone say they couldn't hear me, and my brother even said I sounded louder and clearer than I usually do on the phone.
To accomplish this great sound quality, the Jawbone uses a military-grade technology called NoiseAssassin, which isolates your voice and removes any ambient sound around you.
For comfort, each Jawbone comes with three sizes of earbuds and four sizes of earloops, so you can customize it to fit perfectly. It was so comfortable that one day when I was home making a bunch of phone calls I wore it for most of the day, even when I wasn't on the phone, without any discomfort.
Before you jump all over me for disobeying my own advice and wearing a Bluetooth headest while I wasn't on the phone, keep in mind that I was in the privacy of my own home, so there wasn't anyone around for me to confuse or look ridiculous in front of.
Etan Horowitz can be reached at email@example.com or 407-420-5447. To read his blog, visit OrlandoSentinel.com/techblog.