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Paired speakers protect iPods while on the road

By Mark Baard
December 13, 2010

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Mobile media
I often wish I could jump behind the wheel of my car still wearing my iPod Touch and ear buds.

It’s just so darned inconvenient to burn tracks onto a disk each time I decide to drive to the South Shore or to a trailhead in the Blue Hills.

Tinkering with the CD changer in the trunk of my Beetle only makes matters worse.

But I don’t like to drive while wearing ear buds. And driving with those cables dangling from your ears makes you liable to be fined in Massachusetts.

Last week, I tried two sets of external speakers, alternatives to the CD burn and the FM transmitter, which sends audio from a media player to car stereo, but typically requires you to switch stations during a long drive.

During 2 1/2 hours on the turnpike between Boston and Pittsfield, I was reminded that you get what you pay for.

First, I tried a $5 impulse buy from Micro Center in Cambridge: a tiny, AAA battery-powered plug-in pair of speakers. They were too weak to overcome the sounds of the road and an engine with 150,000 miles on the odometer.

That pair went straight to the floor of the car.

The other set of speakers I tried, iMainGo X, from Portable Sound Laboratories Inc., blew away my car’s own stereo system, even as it tumbled around on the passenger seat beside me.

The $70 iMainGo X is the size of a thick paperback novel. It works with any player or PC with a 3.5 mm connection.

The iMainGo X also protects your media player with a clear, zippered compartment. Most iPods (except the Shuffle), the iPhone, and most other MP3 players fit into the compartment, according to Portable Sound.

But while you can see your device through the windowed compartment, you cannot control it without first unzipping it.

The iMainGo X, which you can pick up at Eastern Mountain Sports, has a rechargeable lithium-ion battery and comes with a plug-in charger and two carry straps.

Boomer tech

This fitness ‘coach’ fits on your iPhone

Healthrageous Inc., based in Boston, wants to make monitoring your blood glucose and blood pressure feel less like a medical routine than a relationship with a personal fitness coach.

The company’s new app for the iPhone, the Blackberry, and Android devices, h!GO (www.healthrageous.com), gathers data from wireless blood pressure cuffs, glucose readers, and accelerometers, which can indicate how much rigorous exercise your are getting.

The application then displays your results over time, in the form of charts and graphs any patient can understand.

The app, developed at the Center for Connected Health (www.connected-health.org), a division of Partners HealthCare System Inc. (think Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital), also generates coaching tips based upon your biometric results. The h!GO can also automatically set goals and pat you on the back each time you meet them.

It’s currently available to Healthrageous customers, according to the company. Its target customers apparently are folks whose employers, health care service, or insurance providers subscribe to Healthrageous.