Stump Portable Tablet Stand by Gogo
$22 at Amazon.com
It’s hard to hold an iPad in one hand and a microphone in the other while demonstrating your best Michael Jackson moves. Make it easier on yourself with Stump, a low-tech gadget that will put the high-tech iPad in its place.
Stump is a simple, shrewdly designed disk that resembles a mutated hockey puck. The slot cut through its middle is just the right size and shape to hold a tablet computer or smartphone at the perfect angle to read text, view a streamed movie, or belt out a song. You can also lay a tablet flat against the top of the Stump. That is a comfortable angle for typing out e-mails or playing touch-sensitive video games.
Stump makes a fine accessory for the office desk or bedroom nightstand. There are no power cords, no flashing lights, no moving parts. Stump is just a sawed-off chunk of plastic that makes any mobile device a lot easier to use.
Soulo Karaoke by First Act Inc. and Seven45 Studios
$69.99 for wired microphone; $99.99 for wireless version at soulo.com
Here comes New Year’s, the rowdy, raucous holiday that’s perfect for karaoke, especially if you got an iPad for Christmas.
All you need is Soulo, a software-hardware combo created by a pair of Boston companies, First Act Inc. and Seven45 Studios. Soulo turns the iPad into a karaoke machine. After buying the hardware, you install a free app that lets you buy 99-cent karaoke versions of many popular songs. You get 10 songs free, but none that I cared for. Instead, I purchased “I Fought The Law,’’ switched on the wireless microphone, and let it rip. Just follow the song lyrics as they scroll across the iPad’s screen.
It’s even more fun with the iPad 2, which has a front-facing camera. Soulo will display your swaggering, staggering moves on screen. For more humiliation, the software can make a video of your performance. You can share the video on YouTube or Facebook. But music copyright law being what it is, you’re only allowed to upload a one-minute clip from each song.
Mophie Juice Pack Powerstation
$79.95 at mophie.com or Amazon.com
Between karaoke, games of Angry Birds, and videos of happy drunks in Times Square, New Year’s can put a hurting on your iPad battery, and drain your smartphone as well. Consider bringing along some backup. Battery maker Mophie Inc. is a leading maker of auxiliary power packs for mobile devices. The company’s newest, the Juice Pack Powerstation, is compatible with all Apple gadgets, but is also supposed to work with pretty much every other smartphone or tablet device. No guarantees, though, so you might want to ask the company about your specific device before buying.
You charge up the Powerstation through a cable that plugs into the USB port on a personal computer. But don’t count on this cable for connecting the Powerstation to your phone or tablet. You must carry the standard USB charging cable for your gadget. For instance, charging an Apple device requires the standard Apple cable. Same goes for Androids, BlackBerrys, and so forth. Shove your cable into the Powerstation’s USB port, press the on-off switch, and let the power flow.
The Powerstation packs enough juice to recharge an iPhone fully. It does a pretty good job on the iPad 2 as well, taking it from 11 percent power to 50 percent in a couple of hours. Quite enough for a few more rounds of karaoke. Sinatra, anyone?Hiawatha Bray can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.