Marc Saltzman, a leading
high-tech reporter, contributes
to more than three dozen
appears on radio and TV,
and is the author of
15 books. He’s on Twitter
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The Costco Connection
P.O. Box 34088
Seattle, WA 98124-1088
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THE COSTCO CONNECTION
Costco features a wide variety
of electronics for indoors and
outdoors in the warehouses
and online at Costco.com.
SPRING IS HERE and summer is not far off, which
likely translates to spending more time in the great
outdoors—perhaps to enjoy the fresh air in your
backyard while relaxing with friends and family.
And while nature and technology may seem like
opposites, they can go hand in hand.
In fact, there are many high-tech toys that could
enhance your downtime activities outside, such as
cooking up a nice meal on the barbecue, capturing
memories around and in the pool, listening to wireless speakers while lazing in a hammock and enjoying your yard after dark.
Here’s a look at a few handy gadgets.
If all of the action happens in and around the
pool, why aren’t you immortalizing all these memories? Oh yes, you don’t want to get your smartphone
wet, nor can you risk damaging your pricey digital
single-lens reflex camera. Instead, consider picking
up an affordable waterproof point-and-shoot camera, often available in multiple colors. Most can be
used in depths as low as 7 feet, while others can go
as deep as 50 feet. Most offer optical zoom, image
stabilization, 1080p video recording and numerous
camera modes, and some have built-in Wi-Fi to
wirelessly upload captured memories.
Not everyone likes their meat cooked the same
way, and now there are accessories and apps that can
help you check the temperature of sizzling food on
the barbecue. These Bluetooth-enabled meat ther-
mometers are connected to a probe you place into
the center of whatever meat or fish you are cooking,
and the temperature is then displayed on the table-
top unit connected to the probe as well as via a free
app on a device up to a few hundred feet away.
Some of these Bluetooth meat thermometers
also include a timer function, alerts and a colored
graph to see your barbecue history.
Inexpensive wireless speakers are great for outdoor use, as you can keep your phone or tablet in
your hand yet wirelessly push your music (or pod-casts or audiobooks) to a battery-powered speaker
nearby via Bluetooth. Most speakers have an auxil-iary-in jack for non-wireless music players, and
many have a speakerphone feature (with built-in
microphone) in case a call comes in.
Some Bluetooth speakers are built to withstand
rain, harsh sunlight, splashes and so on, but you’ll
likely need to pay a little more for one of these “
ruggedized” speakers. On that note, the bigger the
speaker, the more it’ll cost and the louder it’ll be,
A portable backup battery is a must-have for
any serious backyard lounger, so you won’t have to
go inside or trip over an extension cord whenever
you want to juice up your favorite gadgets. Varying
in size, milliampere hours and price, these small
batteries are ideal for powering a smartphone or
digital camera, or, for some of the larger ones, e-book
readers and tablets.
Some batteries even include jumper cables in
case you’re on a spring road trip and your vehicle
needs a boost, so you can avoid the need to call
emergency roadside assistance or flag down someone for help on the freeway. Simply connect the portable battery’s black and red prongs to your car’s
battery and charge away.
Let there be light
Solar-powered LED lights are a great way
to spice up your backyard space, and won’t
cost you a dime in electricity. Usually sold in
packs, they can be spread around your
yard, pool or deck to add light and ambi-
ence after the sun sets, or perhaps used to
line a pathway in front of your home.
These lights don’t have any wiring—
just a small solar panel on top to power
the LED bulb, and a rechargeable battery
that stores the energy for when the sun
goes down—and they typically provide
roughly eight hours of brightness before
they turn off for another day. C
Gear for your leisurely outdoor pursuits
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