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JG’s Top Five Gadgets/Apps

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Flipboard and the iPad 2 are some of the gear I'll be using this holiday weekend, how about you?

One of the things I love best about writing in the tech space is getting access to all kinds of gadgets. The downside of this is there are only so many I can afford. So, I’ve got to choose. Here are my top 5 gadgets I’ll be using this 4th of July.

Chances are very high that I’ll be on the high seas, enjoying a day of sailing. Though, just because I am harnessing nature’s power doesn’t mean I’ll be without my gadget gear. Here’s what I rely on:

Navionics iPhone app

Though I had my doubts and I’ve got back up charts, this app for iPhone allows me to chart my position, plot a course and follow the course. I’ve used this for a few years now and it’s returned me to port as often as I’ve left.

Besides just chart data, Navionics adds in clickable icons that displays tide and currant data. Also provided is details on anchorages, marinas and contact information. I really could go on all day about how much I live this litte app.

It’s available for both iPhone and an HD version for the iPad. My boats cockpit just isn’t big enough to warrant the iPad, so I stick with the iPhone version. (For land-based navigation, I still believe AT&T Navigator by TeleNav is tops).

Netflix

I have embraced Netflix in my life and using the app on the boat is a no brainer. I have little doubt that my little family will be curled up on the settee watching a movie streamed over my iPad at some point this weekend. I am continually surprised at the gems I find; take “That’s What I am“, a recent release from the WWE Studio (yup, the wrestling folks). A surprisingly well-done and heartwarming tale about bullying, the movie just popped up on my recommendation list. That list is finally getting useful after years of strange looks from me.

To beat the summer doldrums of repeat TV, I’ve been rewatching/find missed episodes of Sportsnight and Dirty Sexy Money; Party Down is up next. I am getting ever red cent from $7.99 streaming-only plan.

Apple TV (2)

I think part of my love for Netflix stems from my new Apple TV. The interface on the Apple TV is leaps above TiVo’s HD receiver app. On the Apple TV, I can quickly search, find my recently watched (wicked, wicked handy for finding the next episode of my TV shows), Instant que (which has languished as its now just as easy to search). In short, the UI is impressive.

But that’s just some of the fun stuff I get to do with the Apple TV. Showing off videos and photos from my iPad and iPhone are a complete joy. It’s so great to show off these on the big screen and sharing with friends and family turns into something different than just passing around the phone or tablet.

We’ve rented only a few movies from iTunes and the experience was enjoyable. Streaming times could improve and the pressure to watch it all within 24 hours is something I thought we left behind in the BlockBuster 90s, but it hasn’t been an issue yet.

iPad 2

And speaking of Netflix on tablets, I’ll have my trusty iPad on hand while at sea. This tablet has completely replaced my Google CR-48 as my lean-back device. It’s a joy to read on (I am reading Treasure Island to my son nightly), watch videos, gaming (currently hooked on the card game Spit) and the 100,000 iPad apps are making life more interesting.

I find I reach for the iPad first to check email and weather, as launch times beat even the quick CR-48 Google Chrome device. Fast loading, crazy long battery life and connectivity make this a no-brainer for bringing it along on trips.

To be honest, every new tablet launch since I’ve gotten the iPad, has me concerned I made the wrong choice. However, a quick hands-on with these devices continue to affirm I made the right one. The TouchPad was my biggest worry with my soft spot for Palm, but even the buggy TouchPad can’t beat the iPad, yet.

iPad news apps: Flipboard and The Daily

For a gadget news freak like me, I like to be in the know. It’s been said I start to get dizzy if I am away from tech news for too long. Flipboard app for iPad keeps me in the loop.

Flipboard, essentially goes out and scrapes copy and images from news blogs and re-formats them into a sexy magazine like experience. The result is something that could forever change the internet and deprive site owners of their fair share of advertising revenue. The phrase “content is king” comes to mind when thinking of how Flipboard could change the net; it’s that powerful an experience.

The new update to Flipboard (released yesterday) brings parity with apps like Zite (which I love as well). The Flipboard staff picks and sections bring aid to those of us too lazy to find mainstream news sources beyond our techy niche. It’s handy, always informative and a makes sharing social a breeze. This app, itself, is a reason to get the iPad.

Recently, my daily newspaper was up for renew. I opted to go with The Daily app and the decision has been a positive one. From integrating video, music and news into a lean-back experience The Daily has done a great job at keeping me in the loop on current social issues, government reporting and global events.

From the video introduction of the news, providing a quick rundown of the stories inside to the amazing graphics allowing 360 degree views, I find my enjoyment of the morning news to be higher than my average local paper. Is it local? Nope, not by a long shot but I’ve got twitter to help me there throughout the day.

In short, The Daily is a fun news experience.

Those are my top gadgets and apps that I’ll be using this weekend. How about you? Let us know in the comments.

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