AUBURN — Scott Tharler’s obsession with gadgets started with a digital watch.

“Ever since I was a kid, I was into watches that did everything — calculators, games and dialing phones and stuff that may not be impressive today,” Tharler told a group at the Auburn Public Library on Tuesday.

So it’s fitting that his favorite electronic toy this year looks like a wristwatch but does a lot more.

The Motorola MOTOACTV is an inch-and-a-half square, touch-screen unit that combines an MP3 music player and a fitness tracker. It can fit into an armband that wraps around a biceps, but Tharler said he prefers to wear it on his wrist.

It tracks his steps and counts the calories burned, plays music and even designs playlists from his music collection that he optimized to burn calories. It’s Bluetooth-enabled, which means it can pump music to wireless speakers or a pair of wireless headphones.

At $250, he said, it epitomizes his philosophy about gadgets and electronic toys.

“When a gadget does two things, it should do both well,” he said. “None of the things it does should suffer. Plus, by combining, it should do some things even better.”

Tharler was the featured speaker at the Auburn Public Library’s “What’s on Your Shopping List” presentation.

Tharler, a national columnist and travel writer, has carved a niche for himself by helping pair people with the tech gadgets that best fit their needs.

He writes blogs for Discovery News and as Fodor’s travel technology columnist. He’s launching his own Gadget Concierge blog later this month.

On Tuesday, he unpacked some of his favorite gadgets that he’s collected over the past months.

Some are simply practical. The TrickleStar power strip automatically senses when an item plugged into it is turned off. Other power strips continue pumping electricity to the unused outlets, creating “vampire” power drains.

“So this is a green gadget,” he said. “I think it’s important for gadgets to be environmentally conscious, too.”

Others are practical, and anything but simple. A set of $13 white LED bias lights is designed to attach to the back of a television or computer monitor. It plugs into a USB socket and is designed for people used to computing in dark rooms.

“Everybody knows that it’s bad for your eyes to stare at a bright screen in a dark room,” he said. “This provides a balance. It’s better for your eyes.”

Tharler’s favorite travel items include the bright red Powerbag, a $170 backpack with a built-in battery. Plugged in overnight, it carries enough juice to recharge three mobile items — phones, MP3 players and cameras — while on long trips.

Another favorite is the $85 plaid shirt Tharler wore. Made by ScottEVest, it contains a dizzying array of hidden pockets and places to tuck wires and headphones. The company also makes vests, overcoats and boxer shorts, but Tharler said he prefers the shirt. He wears it when he travels.

“Between the backpack and this, it can take me a little while to make it through airport security,” he said. “Not because I get stopped, but because you can’t stop me from talking about this stuff. I always say, ‘You won’t believe what else this can do.'”

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