March 18, 2010, 9:07 PM — The scoop: Nightstand Charging Dock for iPhone, by Kensington, about $35.
What it is: This handy device acts as a charging dock for your iPhone or iPod, but does it in a unique way -- you connect your iPhone/iPod horizontally (landscape mode) to the charging dock, which acts like a kickstand for your iPod. This lets you create a nightstand alarm clock effect for your iPhone/iPod, which can be great when you're traveling. Kensington offers a free iPhone app called Rise & Shine, which replicates the nightstand alarm clock and offers different face styles (including the classic number-drop style -- think the kind of clock in the movie "Groundhog Day").
Why it's cool: True, the iPhone already has a Clock application and alarm clock, but when I'm traveling I usually have early morning meetings that make me nervous about not waking up on time. This causes me to wake up periodically during the night, and it's always a hassle in the hotel room to remember where the alarm clock is located. With the Kensington device, it's easy to see and view -- a settings option lets you keep the phone "on" all night, and since it's also recharging the device you're not drawing power from the iPhone. The Rise & Shine app also utilizes the GPS function and gives you the current temperature for the city that you're in. The unit can be powered via USB port or electric power outlet.
Some caveats: While you can disable the shutdown feature to prevent the clock from going away on the Rise & Shine app, other applications that use pop-up notifications (including the Facebook and the text messaging apps) can block the time display, defeating its purpose. Also, the clock can be very bright, bothering people who need darkness to fall asleep -- you'll need to adjust the brightness settings.
Grade: 4 stars (out of five).
The scoop: LaDiDa iPhone app, by Khu.sh, $2.99 in the iTunes App Store
What it is: This iPhone app is an entertaining way to turn your normal singing voice into something that replicates today's music stars. Clicking the record button starts a countdown, and then you sing into the iPhone microphone. The app then processes the recording, corrects your pitch, adds reverbs and then adds background music. Pressing "play" lets you hear the results, a song worthy of hitting the radio station. You can easily adjust different styles (pop, synth, rap and so on) and the speed of the percussion, in addition to how much pitch correction and reverb you want.
Why it's cool: This is a fun way to get more people to experience some of the auto-tune, pitch correction and music stylings that professional singers experience. If you are a good singer, this can be one way to sing an original song and see how it would sound with different music styles and speeds. Or you can sing a popular song in your own unique way. The app also lets you share songs with friends via Facebook Connect.