- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Perhaps one sign of a truly worthwhile product - to this reviewer, at least - is when one goes scurrying back to the office, after hours, for fear the item may be lost.

That’s what happened to your columnist the other evening, as I drove some nine miles (in about 15 minutes toward the end of rush hour) to find my pair of Street by 50 in-ear wired headphones, list price $119.95. The “50” is rapper 50 Cent, also known as Curtis James Jackson III. The “Street” part likely refers to the section of Queens, New York, in which Mr. Jackson was raised. I found the headphones, and I’m very glad I did.

Even if you never listen to a note of rap, these in-ear headphones are priceless. The sound reproduction is incredible: rich bass, high treble notes, ultra-clear sound overall. They feature flat cables to cut down on tangles and a controller/microphone to use with Apple’s iPhone and similar devices.

Although the list price may be a bit more than you (or I) may be accustomed to paying for buds, as they’re often called, let me assure you that every penny invested will deliver a good return on investment. The sound is just amazing, and something you need to hear to believe. Details are online at http://smsaudio.com/.

Into just about everyone’s life a little work must fall, and for that, I am reminded of how good the ZAGG Folio iPad case-and-keyboard combo actually is. Its shell - polyurethane for $99.99 or leather for $129.99 - is solid, and the built-in, rechargeable Bluetooth keyboard is well-spaced, eliminating some of the typing problems I encountered with other keyboards mentioned here a couple of weeks back. During one afternoon of typing, for about four hours, I had few inadvertent or unwanted keystrokes, and typing was comfortable. For these reasons, the ZAGG Folio is highly recommended. You can learn more at http://bit.ly/J0i6r8.

It looks quiet and unassuming, but the $149.99 Business Class Case from Powerbag (www.mypowerbag.com) packs a punch. Charge up the supplied 600-watt battery and you can plug in your iPhone, iPad or Blackberry for a quick charge. The case is computer-friendly, and the notebook flap folds for airport X-rays without the need to remove the computer. I might prefer a color other than “steal me black,” but the value of having extra juice when needed compensates for any fashion deficiencies.

Off the road, the PowerSlice from Fuse (www.fuseplusyou.com) is a $39.99 wonder that will give you as many as four connectors for chargeable devices such as a BlackBerry, a smartphone and an iPod or iPhone. One connector is supplied with the “base” unit; others are $9.99 each. It’s a great idea for a multi-device household or for the user with several items to keep charged. Very smart.

Here are a couple of mobile applications worth considering. One is iA Writer, a so-called “focused” writing application, because, its makers say, once the program is opened, “all you can do is write.” It’s great for that, and you can save or send documents as text files usable by just about any of the “big” word processing programs. It’s what I used for that four-hour typing marathon, and I was very pleased with the results. It really is the digital equivalent of the old blank sheet of paper in the typewriter. For just 99 cents in the iTunes App Store, it’s the bargain of a lifetime.

For those working with paper-based documents and the new iPad, with its 5-megapixel camera, the $6.99 Readdle Scanner Pro 4.0 may be a temptation. It will photograph documents, one page at a time, and save them as PDF files. That’s fine, but what I’m waiting for is reliable optical character recognition.

Email mkellner@washingtontimes.com.