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Personal Tech for Women: 5 Things You Need to Know About Fun Gadgets for Spring

Monday, May 11, 2015


As the Rose City is in full bloom, bikes are being pulled out of sheds and hiking boots are getting re-laced. This means you’re probably planning some springtime adventures, which often require a little planning and few smart devices. Here are 5 gadgets you should consider adding to your roster that’ll help kickstart the warm season and keep the fun times in check. 

1. Bike mount for your smartphone

When riding your bike it’s never a good idea to reach for your phone when you’ve found yourself in unfamiliar territory. Luckily, there’s a solution. The Quad Lock Universal Bike Mount Kit works with almost any phone to plant your lifeline right between the handles bars, connecting you to the vast conduits of GPS. Included in the $39.95 kit is a weather-proof cover (called the poncho), the square-shaped universal adapter that adheres directly to the back of your phone case, and finally the bike mount, which comes with O-rings and a couple of nylon zipties for extra security. Your phone will lock onto the mount with a click and pop off with a twist. 

2. Keep messy cables tidy

On road trips, bike trips, or any springtime excursion, it’s comforting to be compact. Recoil Automatic Cord Winders keeps your charging cords unsnarled with a spring-loaded case that is ideal for travel. Untangling a bird’s nest of headphones, smartphone and tablet cables is an unduly task. To calm your frustration, try Recoil’s small white cord winder for earbuds, or the medium blue winder for USB cables, each for $9.99. There’s even a combo pack for both, and a larger option for laptop chargers. Get rid of the clutter and chaos and keep these little fellas in your car, saddlebag, or backpack. 

3. Smart garden planning

This nifty app (there’s also a desktop version) helps you design your flower or veggie garden with easy drawing tools while offering a selection of plants and varieties from an extensive database. As you add plants, the app automatically arranges them so you’ll know how to smartly fit and evenly space them when you hit the dirt. Tracking your garden’s progress is also a special feature. Garden Plan Pro uses your local weather station data to provide recommended planting and harvesting dates. With email reminders twice a month, you’ll know exactly when to plant your crops.  

4. Mini film camera

Go back to the basics with real film. Remember those days, when you couldn’t take a billion selfies because each shot cost you more money? The Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 Instant Film Camera lets you relive that time and comes in pastel shades, and also black and white. For $69.99 (and a pack of film) you can come back from your springtime adventures with real souvenirs. It’s basically a Polaroid camera with a slimmer, lighter body and a sharper viewfinder. The camera also recommends the aperture setting with a flashing LED, which helps capture a better photo. It’s good fun for a getaway with the ladies – or how about teaching your children about semi-real photography and getting her away from the clutches of digital selfies. 

5. Portable speakers

For the park, the beach, or even your own backyard, a good set of portable speakers is essential blue-sky equipment. For the best bet that’s less than $100, try the Mini Jambox by Jawbone Wireless Bluetooth Speaker. Looking like larger, rectangular Lego piece, the Jambox comes in nine bright colors, is small enough to fit in a purse or a big pocket, and has a 10-hour battery life. If you’re willing to spend more, Fugoo Style was rated No. 1 by a number of review sites for its durability, design, and excellent audio quality. For $199, the Fugoo speaker is waterproof, mudproof (great for Portland), and shockproof, and it’s battery life is a whopping 40 hours. You can also choose between one of its three “jacket” designs for protection – sport, tough and style. Compared to other Bluetooth speakers in its price range, Fugoo is smaller and lighter. And for an extra 40 bucks, purchase a waterproof remote control that doubles as a bottle opener. Hello Fugoo.

Melanie Sevcenko is a journalist for radio, print and online. She reports internationally for BBC World Service and Monocle Radio (M24) in the UK, and for Deutsche Welle in Germany. Melanie also reports for the online news source GoLocalPDX, in Portland, Oregon. Her work has been broadcast by CBC in Canada and the Northwest News Network, and published by Al Jazeera English, Global Post, Pacific Standard, the Toronto Star and USA Today, amongst others.


Related Slideshow: The 7 Best Health and Fitness Apps

Here is a list of some of the most obsession worthy health apps.

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MapMyRun is the number one selling running app for a reason:  it is easy to use, offers community support if you want it, and tracks and stores your exact routes for you.  If you are training for a race or a serious runner, users say that the extra perks in the upgraded paid version are well worth it. 

Made for iPhone, Android and Blackberry 

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MyFitnessPal seems to be the clear favorite amongst everyone polled.  It is helpful not only for the fitness tracking aspect, but everyone polled mentioned how much they loved the food/diet aspect as well. From carb counting for diabetics to recipe ideas to complement your fitness goals, users love this app. 

Made for iPhone and Android

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JeFit is another fitness app that has rave reviews.  It not only tracks progress for you, but offers a huge database of workouts.  While many apps offer community support, JeFit allows you to sync workouts with friends who use the app, offering a (real) virtual buddy system.

Made for iPhone and Android

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Strava gets the highest mark of all the cycling apps.  While it is also great for runners, the cyclers seem particularly inclined towards the fierce competition that can be ignited by this app.  You can track all of your rides via GPS, then you can compare your efforts to those logged by others in the community on the same stretch of road.  You can also join ongoing challenges that can net you great prizes (in addition to bragging rights). 

Made for iPhone and Android

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YogaStudio gets the top vote for Yoga apps.  It has a lengthy collection of full class-length videos available at your fingertips.  Unlike many other apps, this one also allows you to customize your own video yoga class.  All of the poses are done by qualified yoga instructors, and you can find classes suitable for all levels of yogis.

Made for iPhone only

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SimplyBeing meditation app offers the best of both worlds.  You can choose to run this app as a background for your meditation with soothing music or natural sounds that run for a set amount of time.  Conversely, for those of you who have trouble focusing during meditation, you can choose a soothing voice-guided meditation. 

Made for iPhone and Android

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Fooducate is an app all about educating people so that they make healthier food choices.  Although not perfect, this app is easy to use (you can even take pictures of bar codes to instantly find foods in their database).  It gives food a letter grade, tells you the pluses and minuses, and gives you better ranked alternatives.  You can also use it as a weight loss tool by tracking your daily calories. 

Made for iPhone and Android


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