NFC, or Near Field Communications, is quickly becoming a standard feature on smartphones, tablets and laptops, as well as a wide range of accessories. In addition to enabling mobile payments on handsets, the technology enables one-touch pairing of devices via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi direct so you can pair your phone, TV and other accessories with your smartphone without entering a settings menu. Although it can be somewhat finicky - the NFC chips in your devices need to be precisely aligned and within an inch of each other to start the connection - NFC-enabled gadgets can make your life a lot simpler. Here's our top picks.
The world’s first NFC Android keyboard is available for $99 at Brookstone. Weighing just 5 ounces, the foldable keyboard, previously known as Elecom NFC keyboard,has an internal battery that is supposed to last up to 18 months. Supporting devices running Android 4.0 and above, the One2Touch keyboard is a convenient wireless solution for those who often send messages and emails on the go. Unlike other devices where NFC is used to start Wi-Fi or Bluetooth pairing, this keyboard uses the NFC connection to transmit every keystroke from the keyboard to the phone. We found forming the NFC connection to be problematic when we went hands on with the keyboard in March but the concept is impressive and we hope it works better now.
The 47-inch Sony W802 series TVs feature built-in Wi-Fi, Miracast and NFC screen mirroring and a host of proprietary enhancements for better clarity and sound. It even comes with four 3d glasses. Tapping your Sony Xperia phone against an optional NFC-enabled remote control activates OneTouch mirroring of your phone’s screen to the tv over Wi-Fi.
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Parrot’s Zik headphones are designed to make your music and calls sound better, but their one touch pairing is even more impressive than their audio quality. With a single tap against your NFC-enabled phone, the Zik initiates a Bluetooth pairing and connection. With touch gesture recognition for playback controls built into the ear cups and motion detectors to pause your music when you remove it, the $362 Parrot Zik headphones free your hands for what’s really important - dancing.
Sony describes the Personal Content Station as a "digital shoebox" but it’s really more like a physical Dropbox. Tap your tablet or smartphone against the $299 Personal Content Station to quickly share and view pictures and videos over Wi-Fi direct, using NFC to initiate the connection. It works with both iOS and Android devices and can be controlled via a PCS Manager app. With 1TB of storage and support for HDMI output and MP4 transcoding, the Personal Content Station is a great solution for at-home media sharing and storage.
This palm-sized speaker features a built-in speakerphone so you can take calls on-the-go if you prefer holding an egg-shaped speaker rather than a phone. Otherwise, these speakers support NFC to allow one-tap pairing of your phone and conveniently stream your music over Bluetooth.
Sony’s Nex-5T is the first mirrorless interchangeable lens camera that has NFC capability. The 16.1-MP shooter can also capture full HD 1080p videos in cinematic quality, transcode and share them via Wi-Fi. With the Playmemories Mobile app, you can also share your pictures and video to Android devices with one tap.
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This Bluetooth pen will add NFC capability to any device, making it a great accessory for NFC-impaired iPhones and iPads. Linked to your device via Bluetooth, the pen is both a stylus and NFC tag reader and writer. Evaluation kits are available and the pen alone should cost around $100.
Sometimes you just want to print out an attachment from your smartphone or a picture you’ve just edited on your tablet really quickly. Samsung’s C410W series of printers lets you quickly send your files to print with just one NFC tap. With the Mobile Print App, you can also easily scan and fax documents to contacts saved on your device rather than having to type the into the printer. Owners of Samsung’s Galaxy devices can also print files directly from their device galleries.
With a built in web browser and Wi-Fi capability, the 55-inch LG LA7400 is great for today’s internet-reliant user. It comes with LG cloud storage and supports MHL, NFC and DLNA connectivity so you can stream your videos on its full HD 1080p display. It also supports 2D to 3D conversion so you can watch them with the bundled four 3D glasses. A nifty Magic Remote feature enables voice activated controls. The accompanying NFC tag that comes with models LA6900 and up is used to trigger wireless connections to stream with compatible devices.
The NFC ring can be used to unlock doors and mobile phones and will cost between 20 and 600 pounds. It works with various third-party apps to unlock your phone with a tap of the ring. Built into the ring are two tiny transmitters - one for public information and one for private. It can start the sharing of information over Wi-Fi, and can also be used to start apps with custom settings. The software the ring operates on is also open-source, so software engineers can create their own programs and tweak the software however they want it.