By JR Raphael
Contributing Writer, [GAS]
This month, we’re talking cool gadgets – the kind that are so cool that you’ve just gotta own them. We introduced our first 10 last week, and today we continue our list with a shocking little invention.
An electrifying number
Whether it’s sparking your buddy or risking damage to your motherboard, static electricity can cause all sorts of problems. That’s where the Static Electricity Eliminator comes into play. Just carry this 2″ gadget around with you and click a switch whenever you need to decharge. All you have to do is touch its end to any grounded surface and click away, and you’re safe.
The gadget that’s all about cool
So long, Calvin Klein – I have found the coolest new fashion trend ever invented. Behold the USB Air Conditioned Shirt. USB-powered fans shoot cool air into the places you need it most. Just sit down, plug in, and cool off. Or hook up optional AA batteries for on-the-go cooling. The only size available is a “Japanese XL,” so I’m guessing this baby may run on the small side. You can snag your own for about $160.
The most annoying gadget ever invented
Let me tell you, the Annoy-a-tron is the best gift you’ll ever get. This little guy looks like a computer part. But flip the switch and slap the magnetic chip onto the back of a coworker’s PC, and you’ll witness its true power. The Annoy-a-tron emits obnoxious high-pitched tones at random intervals, so no one will ever figure out where the noise is coming from. And believe me, it will drive them crazy. I speak from personal experience when I say this tiny device can bring much needed joy into any unpleasant job.
Wait…this one is the most annoying
The Phantom Keystroker takes the Annoy-a-tron concept and boosts it up a notch. It doesn’t look like much and will go undetected by most non-IT professionals. All you do is plug it into someone’s USB port, and the PK will periodically make a random mouse movement or type some random characters. You set the frequency, so crank that thing up and watch your coworkers (or significant other) squirm.
Wi-fi for everyone to see
This one’s become a bit of a geek classic, but I couldn’t get away with not at least mentioning it. ThinkGeek’s come up with a shirt that actually detects wi-fi and displays the signal strength on the front of your shirt. Great for alternating with the USB air conditioner shirt for maximum fashionability-functionability.
Drink up, my friends
Another of my all-time favorite gadgets is the electronic beverage heater/cooler. I’ve got the Sharper Image model that’s now a bit hard to find, but you can get other USB-powered alternatives in plenty of places. Slip your can or cup inside and enjoy an icy cold or steaming hot beverage all afternoon. I use mine almost daily.
Rainy day style
Forget singing in the rain. With these stylish and feature-filled geek-friendly umbrellas, you can shine in the showers like a diamond in a dump. The LED Umbrella gives you an angelic glow while keeping you dry, while the Forecasting Umbrella actually tells you when it’s going to rain. For $80, get AccuWeather forecasts right in the base of your ‘brella. And you thought your raincoat was cool.
I spy, with my two eyes…
Put these shades on and you’ll give Bond a run for his money. The 1.3 Megapixel Spy Camera Sunglasses look snazzy, but their best feature is one only you will see. The glasses have a tiny built-in camera that’ll capture still images every time you click the accompanying remote. They also, for some odd reason, play MP3s. Great for capturing criminal evidence, or, um, other revealing acts.
The foolsafe safe
Some gadgets are pure novelty. This one is pure utility. The Hidden Wall Safe looks like a regular electrical outlet, but inside, you can store your most prized possessions (or an emergency bag of Skittles…either way). You just install it in place of any normal wall outlet, and you have a hidden spot no one will ever suspect. The safe is 7″ high by 3.5″ wide and 2.5″ deep, and – the best part – is only $10 a pop.
The virtual keyboard
Tiny PDA keyboards, be gone. The Bluetooth Laser Virtual Keyboard projects a QWERTY image on almost any surface, and then lets you type on it. It even makes little clicky sounds to go with your desk tapping. Just plug it in to your PDA or regular cell phone, aim it wherever, and fire away. I don’t recommend you project on any stranger’s various body parts, though, no matter how appealing the idea may seem (believe me, I was thinking that too).
HD TV for your pocket
Put this one on your wishlist: the Panasonic Viera P905i. This thing has a three inch, moveable LCD screen with an impressive 2000:1 contrast ratio, not a far cry from most full-sized LCDs. It’s only for sale in Japan right now, but there, you can hook it up directly to the country’s mobile broadcast service, flip your screen up, and watch phenomenal definition from anywhere you happen to be. You can even record shows straight onto the phone. I’ve never resented my TiVo more.
The real-world Rosie Jetson (well, almost)
Mark my words: I will have one of these one day. The Toshiba ApriPoko Robot is without doubt royalty among gadget peons. ApriPoko, still under development, is an 11-inch tall, doe-eyed robot that will learn to do your stuff for you. Its artificial intelligence ability allows it to literally watch and internalize infrared-related tasks such as controlling your TV. The robot will see you do something – say, turning on your TV and flipping to a certain channel – then ask you what you’re doing. It’ll then memorize the sequence of infrared commands involved and learn to do them for you via voice command. This one definitely falls under the category of “completely unnecessary,” but hey, so do countless good gadgets. Now if only it could bring me more Cheetos.
So there you have it: a dozen more cool gadgets to add to your birthday list. This just barely scratches the surface of the sweet stuff out there, so add on your favorites below. And feel free to send a complimentary ApriPoko my way, if you are so inclined. Or at the very least, some crunchy snacks.