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You're Surrounded! Holophone PortaMic 5.1

Dressing up your tech ensembles with devices that expand their capabilities is the kind of accessorizing that even a man can love

The really-there feeling that your surround-sound audio system provides when you watch a concert or a football game could enhance your home video of the kids' spectacular performances if your mic captured the same kind of directional audio and ambient sound. Holophone, which makes many of the surround-sound recording systems the pros use, developed the PortaMic 5.1 to work with a consumer-grade camcorder, as long as it has a microphone jack and an accessory shoe. Five mics are positioned around the unit to pick up all the sound around you and record it using Dolby Pro Logic II encoding. Your camcorder treats it like an ordinary stereo signal. When you play it back through a home audio system with Dolby Pro Logic II (in other words, pretty much any home audio system made in the last decade), it miraculously transforms into 5.1 channel surround-sound audio. The PortaMic won't turn the high school orchestra into the philharmonic, but it certainly adds audio oomph to your cherished video of those once-in-a-lifetime ordeals... er, magic moments. And if the chance to record top-flight soundtracks awakens your inner Spielberg or inspires Sundance dreams in the kids, so much the better. $599, holophone.com