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Coming Soon to a Cell Phone Near You

Enjoy a summer of go-anywhere, do-anything connectivity with these ultracool products that use Bluetooth to get the most from your phone's (or laptop's) music, photos, and, yes, calling features.

  • What's the best way to listen to music and take calls without fumbling with both headphones and a headset?
    Motorola's Motorokr S9 stereo Bluetooth headphones ($130) offer an extremely low profile and are very lightweight—about an ounce—with great sound for the size. The controls on either side are touch sensitive, so you don't have to bludgeon your eardrums while pushing buttons to change the volume. Making calls worked well, too, though sound comes through on only one ear, which can be disconcerting when you've been listening to music in stereo.

  • I don't want to get a ticket talking on my cell phone while driving.
    The most complicated part about IOGear's Bluetooth Hands Free Car Kit ($90) is figuring out where to clip it onto your car's visor. After that, press one button to turn it on, another to make it discoverable by your phone, and you're all set. The speaker is a bit tinny, but the microphone is sensitive enough that you don't have to shout to be heard on the other end. Don't have a car? The gizmo can also be used as a speakerphone for your computer via its USB connection.

  • Can I know who's calling without digging through my bag for my phone?
    Fossil is trying to keep watches from becoming more than just showpieces. Its Caller-ID watch ($249), paired with a Sony Ericsson phone, will display a caller's name or number and also let you know if you have a text message. What it lacks in bling it makes up for in functionality: Buttons let you reject a call you don't want to take, the blue OLED display is bright and easily readable, and it can be submerged to 30 meters, even if your phone can't make it down that deep.

  • How can I enjoy the tunes on my phone without shutting out the rest of the world?
    Nokia's MD-5W Bluetooth speakers ($170) do an admirable job filling a room with sound. About the size of two Toblerone bars, they're very portable (if not as chocolaty) and last about 30 hours on four AA batteries. Buttons in the center of the device let you change the track and volume, and it also doubles as a speakerphone if a call interrupts your jams. It's not going to replace your home tower speakers, but for an office, your emo music will sound just fine.

  • How do I show off the pictures on my phone?
    Beam your snapshots directly to Parrot's Photo Viewer, the latest in digital picture frames. The 720-pixel-by-480-pixel screen of the 7-inch model (pictured, $240) is just as sharp as a real print. And despite having only three buttons on the back, it's very easy to navigate the menus to control settings such as image brightness and the slide show. Parrot also sells a 3.5-inch frame ($170) with 32 MB of storage, enough for approximately 100 photos. The 7-inch frame holds about 500 with its 120 MB of storage, so unless you like squinting, spring for the bigger size.

  • How do I get around having to use that cheap microphone in my PC to make Skype calls?
    From the "Why didn't I think of that?" department is Kensington's Vo200 Bluetooth Internet Phone ($90), which, when synced to your computer, lets you make Skype and other VOIP calls just like a real phone. The genius of this featherweight device—it's about the size and weight of four credit cards—is that it folds up and recharges in your computer's PC-card slot when not in use. It may seem a bit chintzy at first glance, but calls come through very clearly, even when using its speakerphone feature, and you can gab away on it for a good three hours.

  • I want prints of my phone photos, and I want them now. Whaddaya got?
    Slightly larger than a lunch box, Canon's Selphy ES1 ($250) uses thermal dye-printing technology that renders skin tones a lot more cleanly than inkjet printers. Its portability limits pictures to a maximum size of 4 inches by 6 inches—but then, photos taken with most cell phones today won't look good printed any larger. In order to transmit images via Bluetooth, you need to buy a separate Canon dongle ($50), and even then, you can't use it to wirelessly connect to your computer. However, with an infrared port, retractable USB cable, and the ability to accept four different kinds of memory cards, you should have no trouble getting images from your PC.

A version of this article appeared in the June 2007 issue of Fast Company magazine.