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Cheaper, Easier, Better

... a you-can-never-lose-it golf ball, a stylish VoIP phone and other gadgety marvels.

By Maggie Leyes

Technology should enhance your life. Advisor Today has found a few new gadgets (as well as software and information) that can save you a buck—or a ball—and make your life just that much easier.

VoIP in style
So, you’ve decided to give the ol’ POTS the shove (that would be plain old telephone service). Voice over IP, or VoIP, services are gaining ground, but don’t feel you have to go the advertised route. (For the uninitiated, a VoIP call goes across the internet, via a high-speed connection, vs. telephone lines.) Vonage, with its ubiquitous TV commercials (woo hoo, woo hoo hoo; woo hoo, woo hoo hoo …), makes you pay a per-month fee. And while a telephone bill of under $25 sounds great, another popular VoIP service, Skype, may offer you an even lower phone bill. By using Skype, whose software you can download free of charge, your calls may be free—to the millions worldwide who use Skype—or cost just pennies per minute.

You can also be untethered from your computer—and look stylish—when making those calls with Netgear’s SPH101 WiFi Skype phone. You can use it anywhere you have WiFi access. (Do I see Skype phone calls while sipping a latte at Starbucks in your future?) The phone comes preloaded with Skype, so it is good to go out of the box.

But wait, what about all those Skype calls you want to make at the airport while waiting for that flight to the land of work or play? Never fear. Travelpost.com’s free Airport Wireless Guide tells you which airports offer free WiFi and where you must pay for access. Got time to kill at Walla Walla Regional Airport? Free WiFi. Got a layover in La Guardia? It’s gonna cost you $7.95. If you are spending time in Phoenix Sky Harbor airport, however, call away on free WiFi.

Radar love
OK, do you really need this next gadget? Probably not. But think of how much your golf partner (potential client?) will appreciate it when you tell him you can easily locate his lost golf ball—and avoid a penalty stroke. RadarGolf gives you the power to track and find a lost ball. The magic: The golf balls contain a microchip, which can then be tracked on the accompanying hand-held device. It uses visual feedback on its LCD screen as well as audio cues to help you quickly find the errant sphere. The company uses BPS technology (that’s Ball Positioning System technology to you and me). The only thing you need to know: It’s USGA-approved.

Help in spiral form
Someday, someone is going to put us out of our misery and create a totally cordless world—our computers and all that attach to them will live in a wire-free utopia. Until then, we are on an endless search to maximize our plug-in capacity (while maintaining our cool). Enter the USB Rota-Rota Hub by Brando. This plug-and-play adapter transforms from a cube to a spiral staircase of four USB ports, which you can actually use to plug in four devices—at once. And it is nondenominational; PC and Mac users can both benefit from this tool.

 


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