Gadget Lust: Make Your Smartphone Even Smarter, Sound Even Better

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The poll finds the number of registered voters tracking political news on their cell phones has doubled since the 2010 midterm elections. Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters

I am no smartphone fanboy. One of the happiest times of my life commenced a year ago, when a fast-moving miscreant snatched an iPhone5 from my golf bag while I was buying a bratwurst at the turn. I dutifully reported the incident to a couple of LAPD desk cops, who looked at me as if I'd said: "Some crows ate my Cheetos while I was hitting my tee-shot." Their contempt fairly dripped for my "too much leisure-time" ass.

But righteous indignation quickly turned to wide-eyed wonder as I felt that sudden gridless feeling I knew as a youth – untethered to The Other, free to roam (without charges), invisible! When people asked how to get in touch, I smugly smirked and suggested ESP. I didn't bother getting a new phone for several months and might have learned a thing or two about self-reliance thereby. Who needs a GPS when you've got an astrolabe and a drooling hound dog at your hip?

Alas, I am back in the matrix again, textable, callable and findable at all hours, and a wee bit chagrined. But while in no-roaming, one must keep up with the Caesars and seek out the latest peripherals, assuming you too use your cellphone for everything but actually talking to another human being. How very last millennium!

Top of the list is owned by the ubiquitous Mophie, the battery extender that adds up to two-and-a-half times to the normal length of a charge. Underpowered users without access to an AC outlet covet such a backup, but now the unit also adds 16GB or 32GB ($149 and $179 respectively) of memory to the same slip-on unit, making you a master of not only time but space as well. Load 'em up with photos, videos or music and don't look back 'til you hit the Cumberland Trail. A caveat: the so-called Space Pack is currently available for iPhone 5 and 5s types only – Samsung and iPhone 6 users need to exercise patience, though Mophie's Powerstation is available for both, and tablets as well.

So let's say you've bolstered your smartphone with a Mophie and are facing a long day on the road. Being the music junkie that you are, what good is storing all of Haydn's symphonies (106 at last count) if you have to imagine the grandeur of the sound while listening to a compressed, two-dimensional signal? Smartphones convert digital-to-analog in workmanlike fashion, but V-Moda's Vamp Verza turns your transistor radio-sounding phone into a true high fidelity experience.

Vamp Verza docks to your phone like a Mophie, and also extends your battery's power a tad, part because those folks know how much juice is required for such high-end hardware. Thus, the VV is a combination headphone amp, DAC and power source all in one, and is compatible with all manner of iPhones, Samsung Galaxy's and tablets. The sleek Metallo case is an extra $100 and well worth it – but you really have to adore music to plunk down $600 clams in the name of full-figured sound. Add a high-end pair of headphones for $300 or so, and you can dispose of the old analog component system in the garage now and forever. Digital never sounded so good, nor came in such a small package.

You're almost ready for a marathon weekend in the woods with your smartphone doing double duty as jukebox and GPS, but what happens when it's time to return to civilization and 17 cans of malt liquor are dancing through your veins well above legal and logical limits? Enter the Breathometer, an attachable breathalyzer meant to keep you in line lest a uniformed officer make you walk the plank without teetering or, worse, going all Mel Gibson on The Man. Download the app, upload some cocktails and breathe into the gizmo – it'll tell you when you've had too much and how long you need wait before getting behind the wheel. Fifty bucks might save you $500 and a night in the hoosegow. Comfort bag not included.