Tech Tools: 7 Gadgets That’ll Make You More Efficient

Stratos Card


Many have tried to digitally reinvent the credit card wheel, but people still want something tangible to swipe when paying for goods. Stratos Card (reserve one for $95), one of a half-dozen electronic credit cards about to hit the market, stores all of your credit, debit, gift and rewards card information in a rectangular package. (You can alternate payment methods from within its smartphone app.) When you’re ready to pay, just tap the card against a counter to awaken it for a swipe.


Zagg Pocket Keyboard


Leaving your laptop at home while you’re on the road is risky; no matter how hard you try to avoid work, you undoubtedly will be forced to type a long memo on your phone. The universal Zagg Pocket Keyboard ($69.99) makes traveling light a safer bet. The 7-ounce keyboard/stand combo fits most smartphones and small tablets, and it’s 85 percent of the size of a traditional desktop keyboard, making it much more comfortable to use than your phone’s touch screen. When you’re finished, you can fold the keyboard into a pocket-size package.


Apple Watch


The most anticipated smartwatch since—well, ever—is here. The Apple Watch (starting at $349) combines the functionality and usability of iOS with the novelty of an activity tracker and heart-rate monitor. Siri is still here, and you’ll find yourself talking to her more often than usual because the watch has neither a web browser nor a keyboard. Using the touch-screen, you can respond to texts (through verbal dictation), make phone calls and ensure that you never again miss a meeting—the computer will lightly “tap” your wrist when you receive a new notification. 




Whether you’re a car geek or an expense-report wonk, you should keep tabs on what’s going on under your hood. The Automatic system wirelessly connects your vehicle to your phone so you can monitor everything from your engine codes to your driving habits. Simply plug the Automatic dongle ($99.95) into your car’s diagnostics port (the same one that mechanics use to figure out why your “check engine” light came on), and it immediately beams all of your car’s status and location data to the cloud. You can also use it to locate your car in big parking lots.


Logitech MX Master


Computer mice are two-trick ponies: They scroll and click—and that’s it. Logitech’s MX Master wireless computer mouse ($99.99), however, is about as impressive as a Triple Crown-winning thoroughbred. In addition to scrolling and clicking, this ergonomically designed mouse has a thumb rest and a thumb wheel that let you scroll horizontally across the screen. The thumb rest also comes with its own button, which you can hold down to perform “hot corner” gestures such as rolling over between apps or returning to the desktop.  




Using a selfie stick is about as obnoxious as listening to music on the train without headphones. But one place we will give selfie sticks a pass is during extreme sports. The battery-integrated aluminum PowerPole ($99.99) is designed for use with a GoPro camera and extends the camera’s battery life for up to eight hours. Stretch the telescoping pole up to 30 inches to capture wide-angle photos and videos of yourself snowboarding, parasailing or even just standing in front of a cool building.


PowerBeats² By Dre


Enjoy the same sound quality from your flashy Beats By Dre headphones in a tiny, sweat-resistant package. PowerBeats2 By Dre wireless earbuds ($199.95) are designed for athletes: The buds hook over your ears, so they’re less likely to fall out during activities. While the fit and bass are good, PowerBeats2 also have enough room around the earpieces for ambient sound to seep in, which makes listening to music while exercising outdoors much safer.


Alyson Sheppard is a writer and editor based in Dallas. Her work has appeared in Popular Mechanics, Mental Floss, Maxim, National Geographic Adventure and more.

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