HTC One (M8),


Two of the features most likely to make it worth upgrading a smartphone are the camera and the battery life. The new HTC One (M8) is nailing it in the camera department.

The phone, announced last week, features a second camera sensor on the back that captures dimensional information about images. As a result, the photos you take can be refocused after the fact. HTC calls it Duo camera — and it is cool.

The HTC One has other built-in editing tools that take advantage of the refocusing, like Foregrounder, which automatically applies effects to everything but the image in the foreground. There are other editing tools that take advantage of the additional dimensional information, too, like seasonal leaf or snow-falling effects and a sort of 3-D effect that lets you tilt and pan an image for a mild hallucinogenic feeling.

That said, some great features fall by the wayside with daily use, and some are buried or more complicated than they should be. We’ll see if the camera features are enough to propel the entire phone to success, especially with tough competition on the horizon.


easel turns tablet into a workstation

Nimblstand, $40,


Upgrading a gadget can be frustrating because it often means replacing all the accessories you bought for it, too. The creators of Nimblstand share your pain. They say that their accessory, a tablet easel, is future-proof.

The Nimblstand is compatible with 99 percent of all tablets, its creators, Matt Esecson and Gustavo Fontana, say. They incorporated a design aspect they call gravity nesting, which allows almost any tablet or smartphone to fit in the stand in portrait or landscape orientation, including models from Apple, Samsung and Amazon.

The tablet slides into one of two grooves on top. One is intended to hold a tablet vertically for typing; the other is more reclined, for browsing with a stylus. In the front is a slot designed to secure an Apple Wireless Keyboard. On the opposite side is a removable “extension wedge,” a foot that acts as a counterbalance to help keep the tablet upright. There’s even a notch to hold a stylus.

For those who use their tablet as a second screen at their workstation, the Nimblstand is an inexpensive option that offers convenience and sustainability.