Gregg Ellman: Gadgets for photos, sound and power

Special to the HeraldFebruary 27, 2014 

The Motrr Galileo is an iPhone dock designed for taking perfect 360-degree panoramic images.

It's available for Apple iOS devices in a Bluetooth ($149.95) model and 30-pin dock connection ($129.95). The bluetooth is listed to work with the iPhone 5/5S/5C, iPhone 4/4S and iPod Touch (5th generation). The 30-pin Galileo is for the iPhone 4/4S, iPhone 3GS and iPod Touch (4th generation).

Both work with many photo apps, all listed on the Motrr site It's updated as new apps become available but there are already many to choose from including Sphere, TimeLapse and DMD Panorama.

The Motrr app is free but there is a charge for some of the others; for example the Panorama app was $1.99 in the Apple App Store.

The 30-pin dock doubles as a charging station since it has a built-in rechargeable lithium polymer battery. A standard tripod mount is on the bottom of both versions.

Right out of the box you would think the Galileo is an Apple product with its solid construction and white finish. It takes a little getting used to but after some experiments it worked really well. You'll probably have to take your case off, as I did, for it to fit in the dock.

It works in both landscape and portrait positions and is available in black or white finishes.

If it was late December instead of late February, the Glaileo would be my gadget of the year. But since it isn't, I'll just say it has an early lead.

When picking a portable speaker system to use with a portable media player the choices are endless and growing everyday.

Jongo from Pure is a complete system. After using it, I totally agree with how a company representative describes it in a recent email exchange, proclaiming the system "takes the cake with its Jongo multi-room audio product family."

There many options for the systems speakers; paired as a stereo system, a single speaker in different rooms or whatever your choice may be. Muliple users, multiple colors and in multiple streaming choices; wired, Wifi and Bluetooth are just some of the options.

You'll probably have to read the directions for the setup since it has to connect to your personal WiFi network. Connecting into WiFI to stream audio gives you greater range compared to Bluetooth, which gives you about 30 feet.

As for the specific pieces used to build a system, I tried out the Jongo T2 and the Jongo S3.

The Jongo S3 ($229) is a desktop/bookshelf sized portable, rechargeable wireless speaker (5.16 x 5.47 x 5.31-inches) and comes in black, white or a mixture called Piano (white body with a black grill) but can be accessorized to color coordinate. A grille pack ($29.99) of easy-to-fit replacements is available in choices of white, lime green, burnt orange or mango.

The speaker produces 360-degree sound from five internal speakers (four tweeters for 360° sound and an upward-firing subwoofer for powerful bass) and can be paired with addition S3's to form stereo sound. More is better but even just a single S3 fills the room with sound.

As for the Jong T2 ($179) it won't fill the room like the S3 but makes a great choice for background sound where you don't want the volume cranked up. A pair of 10W 3-inch mid-range drivers are inside and optional grill covers are available in mango, burnt orange and lime green.

Both speakers can be used with Apple or Android device using WiFi or Bluetooth along with the Free Pure Connect app.

With the Pure Connect app, users can essentially turn their smartphone into a remote control for your music and your choice of Jongo speaker output. This includes your personal playlists or access to a never-ending list of radio stations and music.

Depending on the level of service within the free app will determine whether there are monthly fees. The Green level is free and the Violet level is $9.99 a month.

Earlier this year Pure announced third party app support via Bluetooth, allowing the Jongo system to support all music apps including Pandora and Spotify. This service is expected in the spring.

You may want to take your digital device everywhere. But if you roam too far, you will be without power and watch your device fade to black.

The Soldier portable battery is a welcome remedy, especially for the adventurous traveler. This handy 7800mAh battery backup is built for the roughest environments with a waterproof, rugged shock-proof body.

It's built with a standard USB and a microUSB port for charging portable electronics on the go and a flashlight with SOS functionality. LED indicators display the remaining battery life.

A friend recently spent two weeks hiking in Central America, so what better way to test the backpack-friendly battery (4.52 x 3.46 x 1.14-inch).

The Soldier lived up to its name, handling all the rough-and-tumble of two weeks on and off the trail. An accidental dip in a stream verified the company's statement that it's waterproof up to 3 feet deep for up to 30 minutes.

No electronic device can be a perfect solution for all situations and this had its own limitations. At one pound, it may be a little more weight than some adventurers want to carry. And to recharge the three internal Li-ion 3.7V 2500 mAh batteries, you'll need to include your own USB to outlet plug to connect with the supplied cord for an 8-hour charge. $59.95 at Amazon

Contact Gregg Ellman at Follow him on Twitter: @greggellman.

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