Accessories and gadgets make me wonder sometimes - what can't a smartphone do?
At first I was skeptical that the Luxi clip-on attachment from BiteMyApple would work on my iPhone 5 to turn it into an incident light meter. Professional photographers often use light meters to get the most precise settings in most any situation. Often hand-held light meters are more accurate than those built into cameras.
The Luxi and other hand-held light meters measure the actual light falling on your subject. While meters built into digital SLR cameras are often accurate, they measure light reflected off your subject and can often be fooled when measuring something that is very bright or dark.
After trying the Luxi diffusion dome attachment side by side with my Minolta meter, I must say the ambient light comparisons were almost right on. This includes quick tests in daylight as well as low indoor lighting conditions.
As a professional photographer, I'll still stick to my high end gear options, but the Luxi has impressed me with its accuracy, which has earned it a spot in my camera case.
Installation is simple; just attach the dome over the iPhone's front-facing camera. Obviously you can't have a case on the phone but I do have a front and rear screen protector, which it fit over fine.
You'll also need to download a light meter app, which is free in the iTunes store.
Details: $29.95; www.esdevices.com
IHOME LIGHTNING DOCK & CLOCK
I always look forward to new products from iHome and especially the recent Apple Lightning dock equipped iDL45 Dual Charging Stereo FM Clock Radio.
Features are never-ending in iHome products but the most important feature in my mind on this unit is the top-loading eight-pin Lightning dock. This enables your iPhone or iPad (full and mini) with the newer Apple connection to charge and play.
It is modern looking with a rounded rectangular shape and a black matte finish. The speakers are front facing with a fabric covering and provide excellent sound from a multifunctional device.
The Lighting connection is on a hinge, which enables it to pivot front and back to support the different-sized devices. In most cases you'll have to attach your device case-free.
Other devices, including the Apple 30-pin connector, which require up to a 1 amp charge can connect with your own USB cable into a back-sided USB port.
iHome has free apps available in the iTunes store to offer clocks, alarms, radio presets, sleep music profiles and other features for iHome products along with your device but don't forget there is also a built-in FM radio.
Details: $99.99; www.ihomeaudio.com
GROOVE PAL SPEAKERS ARE CUTE ADDITION TO DESK
The Accessory Power GOgroove Groove Pal Jr. is an easy-to-use speaker, designed in animal themes, including some that are endangered or highly-threatened.
Models include a bear, koala, owl, panda, penguin, polar bear and a tiger.
It has a built in 3.5mm wrap around cable, which enables most any smartphone, tablet or media to be connected.
The audio from the 40-millimeter high-excursion driver and passive subwoofer is clear and crisp.
A built-in rechargeable battery (850 mAh) is good for up to 6 hours, depending on your volume levels. It recharges in a few hours with the included microUSB cable.
Power can also be supplied with three AAA batteries and when powered up the animals have a glowing LED base.
Accessory Power donates a portion of the net proceeds of certain speakers to non-profit organizations, which educate the public on the struggles of these animals.
Details: $16.99; www.accessorypower.com