Cool gifts for geeks, 2011: Miscellaneous tech treasures

Random goodness for the gadget lover on your list

Page 5 of 10

HELO TC Touch-Controlled Helicopter, by Griffin

I love flying, especially when there are no baggage fees, security lines, or bad food, and when my life doesn't depend on the outcome of the landing. Allow me to introduce the Griffin HELO TC iOS-controlled helicopter. The Griffin HELO features a sleek design that is not unlike the Apache army helicopter, and with an ample set of innovative features that match its looks it's not a slouch in the performance department either.

The HELO TC is controlled by infrared signaling and soft controls from a downloadable app for iOS-based devices, be it the iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch (sorry, Android users). A swipe pad controls the helicopter's throttle and elevation, while the i-device's accelerometer steers the copter with directional tilt. An included "flight deck" plugs into the headphone jack to help communicate your controls to the copter (AAA batteries are not included, but you can also charge the helicopter with a USB cable).

The app boasts impressive features, in addition to the throttle and elevation, you can also use a soft control joystick. You can also record flight patterns and recall them for later use. Different channels also allow up to three separate HELOs to fly in the same airspace, and there's an emergency button that can delicately land the copter if things go awry, or when you're done flying for the day.

The helicopter does have a few downsides. If you want to fly in bright sunlight, be advised the infrared link can be easily interfered with (which isn't great when the copter is 20 feet in the air). If you do fly out of range and crash, you have to remember to turn the throttle off - if you don't, once it's back in range the HELO can come back to life quickly, causing some unpredictable results. Sometimes the app would stop responding, and the only way to re-establish a link was to exit out of the app and restart.

These are some minor drawbacks but at a below-$50 price tag, this is a bargain compared with some of the more expensive helicopter flying devices on the market.

Cool Yule rating: 4 stars
Price: $49.98
Reviewed by: Armen Brown

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