shield.nvidia.com | $300: Originally planned for a late June release, Nvidia’s entry into the portable gaming space will now arrive in stores this week. The Shield, first introduced in January at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, is the latest Android-powered handheld designed to give gamers the ability to kill some time with downloaded titles from Google Play or Nvidia’s TegraZone stores. The mobile console also can stream PC games via Wi-Fi. But what Nvidia hopes will set its sleek clamshell-designed device apart from the smartphones people currently use to play games on the go is its powerful Tegra 4 mobile processor, a 5-inch touchscreen that displays video in 720p, with speakers and a built-in game controller that feels comfortable in the hands of Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 owners. All of this comes in a lightweight package — even lighter than most tablets. At $300, the pricetag’s a little steep, but Nvidia, known for products that appeal to hardcore gamers, is aiming its Shield at a crowd that’s looking for a powerful mobile videogame console in their pocket.
Google.com/chromecast | $35: Rather than promote another set top box in your living room, Google is backing a pocket-sized device that looks like a USB flash drive and slings streaming video and audio from online services like YouTube, Netflix, Google Play and Pandora directly to your TV. More app support is coming for the device that plugs into an HDMI slot on your TV. The Chromecast (named after the Chrome Web browser) essentially kills off the Google TV experiment and should give the higher-priced Apple TV box some serious competition, given its lower pricetag ($35 vs. $99) and an initial carrot of a free three-month subscription to Netflix. The two-inch device should easily play a key role in getting consumers to use their television as a smart TV to access online video. It will also compete with Roku and videogame consoles from Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo, which also have embraced apps to turn their devices more into a hub for entertainment. A day after its release last week, Google sold out of the devices and Netflix quickly ended its free subscription offer. Demand is there, but Chromecast now needs to prove easy to use and able to help consumers get used to relying on their mobile devices as a remote control.
fujifilm.com | $390: Lightweight and durable, this little shooter, with its bright 3-inch LCD screen, takes great photos at night. It also feels pricey with its textured covering that approximates leather.
Olloclip.com | $70: But if you still want your phone to do much of the heavy lifting, OlloClip’s three-in-one lens quickly connects to your iPhone and offers fish-eye, wide-angle and macro lenses that produce striking images.