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tech lab plus

Bright sounds in screw-in speakers

AudioBulb Wireless Music System by GiiNii International Corp.

$299.99 at giinii.com

How many audio engineers does it take to screw in a light bulb?

None. Anybody can screw in a light bulb. And now it’s just as easy to build a home audio network, thanks to an odd, but clever new product called the AudioBulb, a bulky lamp that screws into any standard light socket.

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The AudioBulb uses energy-thrifty LED illuminators that run around its outer edge. In the middle of the device is a high-quality audio speaker, and wireless electronics that use the same frequency range as a cordless telephone.

The AudioBulb kit includes a docking station for Apple Inc. iPhones or iPods, which doubles as an audio control center. Plug in your iPhone, and the AudioBulb controller will transmit the tunes to as many as eight AudioBulbs within a 100-foot radius. The basic kit includes two bulbs; extras cost $99 apiece.

The control center lets you assign each AudioBulb to one of two separate audio zones. You can’t play two separate music streams, but you can shut off the speakers in the bedroom while your kids are partying in the basement. You can remotely control the brightness of the lights as well.

Companies like Sonos Inc. have found success with wireless home audio systems that are easy to install. But nothing’s easier than screwing in a light bulb.

Droid Razr Maxx phone by Motorola Mobility Inc.

Available only for Verizon Wireless subscribers $299.99 with two-year contract through Verizon Wireless; $199.99 at Amazon.com.

Who says you can’t be too thin? Motorola Mobility’s remarkable Droid Razr phone has packed on a few ounces, in a bid to solve its biggest problem: measly battery life.

The original Droid Razr was the best-performing Android phone I’ve tried, with lightning-like processing speed and snappy data downloads over Verizon’s excellent 4G LTE network. It was also gorgeous, with its blade-thin Kevlar-reinforced body. But its very thinness was made possible by a tiny battery that was hard-pressed to keep the Razr running through a full day’s use.

So Motorola has rolled out a new Droid Razr that’s basically the same phone, made thicker by the addition of a much bigger battery. As in the original Droid Razr, the battery is built into the phone and can’t be removed. But there’ll be less need for a midday swap with such a beefy power source. And even with the extra bulk, the Droid Razr is a sleek little number.

The Razr Maxx hits the shelves just two months after the original. I doubt Motorola’s engineers can work that fast. I’m betting they were well aware of the Razr’s little problem and designed its big brother far in advance. Smart move. There’s nothing elegant about a phone with a dead battery.

CloudFTP by Sanho Corp.

$99.95 at www.hypershop.com; ships in 4 to 6 weeks.

Nobody ever complained about having too many USB ports on his computer. I’ve got six on mine and wish for more. Then again, maybe I’ve really been wishing for a gadget like Sanho’s new CloudFTP, which combines USB and Wi-Fi to let you easily grab data from your favorite gadgets and broadcast it to friends, family, or your favorite Internet cloud services.

CloudFTP is a little battery-powered box with a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot. Plug in a USB device, like a digital camera or a thumb drive full of documents, and CloudFTP will share its data with up to three nearby Wi-Fi devices. Say you’ve just shot some amusing pictures with your smartphone. Now you can quickly let your buddies take a peek on their own phones. If your home computer suffers from a shortage of USB ports, you can transfer files via CloudFTP instead.

Better yet, CloudFTP can connect to a nearby Wi-Fi hotspot to get access to the Internet. Now you can use it to upload files from your USB device to any number of cloud-based file storage services, like Dropbox or Apple Inc.’s iCloud. For example, a professional photographer could use CloudFTP to quickly transmit a day’s work directly from his camera to an online filing cabinet. CloudFTP is a brainy little device that makes our USB gadgets more valuable than ever.

Hiawatha Bray can be reached at bray@globe.com.
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