BluCon Bluetooth wireless music receiver by Tivoli Audio LLC
$149.99 at TivoliAudio.com
Boston’s own Tivoli Audio, which caters to the carriage trade with its high-end sound systems, now has a pricey but painless way to connect your favorite smartphone to your favorite audio system.
The BluCon is about the size of a deck of cards, and features just two connectors — a quarter-inch audio socket just like the headphone jack on your phone, and a power connector. Plug the BluCon into a convenient power outlet, connect one end of the included cable to the audio jack and the other end to your home stereo. Next, activate your phone’s Bluetooth system and pair it with the BluCon.
And that’s that. Now when you launch the phone’s music player, the tunes are sent to the BluCon and thence to your audio system. It’s simple as can be. Of course, you can accomplish the same thing for less money by plugging your phone directly into the stereo; lots of them have docking stations for the purpose. But with BluCon you can hang onto the phone, as long as you stay within Bluetooth range — about 40 feet. You can answer incoming calls as needed, and other members of the household can synch up their phones to the BluCon as well.
So if you want to hear your music on a good set of speakers while keeping your smartphone in your pocket, Tivoli Audio’s got what you’re looking for.
Swissvoice ePure Bluetooth phone handset
Hold the phone — here’s a handset that makes chatting on a smartphone a little more comfortable and a lot cooler.
The ePure features an elegant, skeletal design. A built-in battery should deliver several hours of talk time; it comes with a USB cable so you can recharge it by plugging into a computer.
You can also plug in your phone’s charging cable to fill up its battery, or pay $10 more for an iPhone version with a retractable docking station. Be warned; the dock is the old-school type, suitable for older iPhones but not the Lightning connector found on the new iPhone 5.
The handset uses a Bluetooth radio to hook up to the phone’s audio system. Pair the two devices, and the ePure will ring to alert you to incoming calls. Just lift the receiver, as you would with a landline phone, and start talking. The handset also doubles as a battery-powered speaker system for playing music files from your Bluetooth phone.
The ePure isn’t cheap, but its beauty and simplicity make it an unusually attractive smartphone accessory.
Field Trip app by Google Inc.
There’s a world of wonder out there, and most of us never notice. Here’s a new app that can instantly alert you to nearby fascinating places throughout the United States.
Field Trip runs constantly on your Android device, tying itself into its GPS location service so it always knows where you are. The app accesses a host of location databases crammed with information about historical monuments, classic architecture, high-quality restaurants, and even locations where famous films were shot.
Now as you walk or drive around town, Field Trip notifies you whenever you’re near some interesting place. It can be programmed to play a ringtone and to read out the name of the place. Touch the screen, and you can get a Google Map of the location, and instructions on how to drive or walk there. With so many locations in the Field Trip database, the constant pinging can be a nuisance, but you can set it up so you’re only notified for things you really care about, like restaurants or art museums.
For now, the service only works for people inside the United States, so forget about using Field Trip on your next visit to London. Still, with its warm, elegant user interface design, Field Trip is an unusually attractive app, and a marvelous way to explore America.
Hiawatha Bray can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.