Awesome desktop keyboard/speakers for tablets; mini-projector is wicked tiny

Awesome desktop keyboard/speakers for tablets; mini-projector is wicked tiny

The scoop: Bluetooth audio system and wireless keyboard with speakerphone, by iHome (model iDM5), about $160.

What is it? This is not a portable keyboard for your tablet or iPad -- but rather a full-size unit that gives you a bigger resting place for the device. Aimed at workers who would like to use their tablets or iPads instead of a notebook within an office space, the iDM5 can connect the keyboard (and speakers) via Bluetooth. An auxiliary port is also included if you want to attach an MP3 player or phone to the unit via audio cable for speakerphone functionality.

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Why it's cool: Don't get this if you're looking for a keyboard to take with you on the road -- there are tons of other keyboards that are smaller and add a protective case. But if you want something that can stay on your desktop, either at home or at work, then this keyboard is much better than some of the portable ones. It's bigger, so you won't make as many mistakes when typing (especially for touch typists). The speakers are a nice additional touch -- especially if you listen to music or watch video on your tablet. I've seen other speakers designed for tablets and they tend to only allow vertical orientation -- with the iDM5 you can place the iPad horizontally and still connect to the speakers.

The cherry on top? Two USB charging ports on the side -- the iDM5 charges itself with an included power adapter, but you can recharge your tablet if you have your USB charging cable.

Grade: 5 stars (out of five)

The scoop: C120 projector, by Acer, about $250.

What is it? This very portable projector weighs only 6.35 ounces, making it very easy to stick into a laptop bag for mobile workers and sales staff. The DLP Pico projector connects to a user's Windows PC (sorry, Macs not supported) via a provided USB cable (two cables attach for power, or you can also connect a power adapter for additional brightness). The projector supports an input resolution of up to1280 by 800 that down-converts to 854 by 480, and has 100 lumens of brightness and a 1000:1 contrast ratio.

Why it's cool: The small size and light weight of the C120 is a HUGE factor for sales professionals who don't have to lug around a heavier projector when traveling. The USB connections are also very nice -- too many times I've seen people struggle with trying to connect a VGA adapter or other connector to their laptops for projecting presentations -- the USB connection works quickly and easily.


Some caveats: End users need to make themselves familiar with the device -- it has a maximum projection distance of 12.14 feet, and a minimum of 15.75 inches, so figuring out where to place the projector for the best possible image could be tricky at first. In a larger board room setting, the brightness was not optimal -- this would be better for smaller room settings, and you still need to keep the room very dark. It took some time for me to find the focus wheel on the device -- the unit's minimal user guide could use some updating. I was also disappointed that the projector had no Macintosh or even iOS support -- connecting an iPhone or iPad to the C120 would be extremely awesome.

Grade: 3.5 stars (out of five)

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