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Monthly Archives: February 2011

Maglite’s XL100 Features Motion-Based Controls

Maglite XL100 (Images courtesy Mag Instrument)
By Andrew Liszewski

Maglite flashlights have always been known for their strength and durability, whether you’re out hiking in the woods at night or subduing a perp with a little force. But I can’t say I’ve ever viewed their products with any kind of gadget lust, until I stumbled across their new XL100 model. It’s a shockproof, weatherproof compact LED flashlight with 83 lumens of brightness and a multi-selectable push-button tailcap with 5 different modes including strobe, nightlight, signal and SOS functionality.

But what will make the XL100 a must-have for any gadget-lovers camping trip this Summer is that it incorporates a motion sensor allowing you to adjust everything from the brightness to the strobe speed by simply holding the tailcap button and rotating the flashlight in either direction. You’ve always been able to manually adjust the beam focus of a Maglite by twisting the flashlight’s ‘cap’ but the inclusion of a motion sensor adds considerable more functionality without having to add more buttons or complexity. Available from Amazon for just $32.37, and is powered by 3xAAA batteries which are included.

[ Maglite XL100 ]

X-Cool Video Game Controller-Inspired Calculator Should Get Kids Excited About Cheating On Their Math Homework

X-Cool Video Game Controller-Inspired Calculator (Image courtesy Perpetual Kid)
By Andrew Liszewski

We’ve said it before, but if you’re going to try and sell a standalone calculator in an age when every single mobile device already has one built in, you better be bringing something unique to the table. And the X-Cool calculator certainly has an original design going for it. I don’t know if it’s just trying to cash in on the popularity of video games, or if there’s some hope it will actually convince kids that math can be as fun as stealing virtual cars, but there’s no doubt as to where it drew its design inspiration. At $13.99 it’s dirt cheap too, though I wouldn’t mind a higher price tag if it did something more original with that LCD display, or even tossed an actual math game in there.

[ X-Cool Gamer Calculator ] VIA [ Chip Chick ]

Kromath Brings Real-Time Chroma Keying To The iPhone

Kromath iPhone Chroma Keyer (Images courtesy Hassan Uriostegui)
By Andrew Liszewski

While it’s primarily designed for on-set, real-time visualization instead of serving as a full-on mobile compositing solution to complement iMovie, the Kromath Chroma Keyer for the iPhone is still an impressive app that pushes the boundaries of what a smartphone is capable of. It’s far from being an industrial-strength keyer by any stretch of the imagination, but presumably it’s optimized for blue or green backgrounds, and the ability to add polygon shapes to use as real-time garbage mattes is a nice-touch. You can also import your own images to use as a pre-comp, which makes the app somewhat usable for on-set visualization, and you can snap stills at any point for later reference.

Unfortunately you can’t use it to capture videos of the composite you see on screen, which means its use is kind of limited, and also makes its $34.99 price tag a little hard to swallow.

[ Kromath iPhone Chroma Keyer ]

RainPerfect Eco-Friendly Watering System

RainPerfect Eco-Friendly Watering System (Image courtesy ITT Flow Control)
By Andrew Liszewski

Sometimes mother nature doesn’t always deliver rain, or enough of it, when it’s needed. But instead of tapping into your city’s water supply to keep your begonias blooming, the RainPerfect kit is a completely self-contained, eco-friendly watering solution.

Well, technically you do need to provide a water barrel for collecting rain, but the RainPerfect kit comes with everything else you’ll need including a solar-powered rechargeable pump that’s capable of sending 100 gallons of water at 13PSI through your hose on a single 8-hour charge. The kit will set you back ~$150, but when you consider that it theoretically won’t be adding to your water or electrical bill, it’s probably one of those things that will pay for itself over time.

[ RainPerfect Solar Powered Rain Barrel Pump System ] VIA [ Inhabitat ]

Mega Hurtz Paintball Robot Is Only Fun For The Person Behind The Controls

Mega Hurtz Paintball Robot (Image courtesy Chris Rogers)
By Andrew Liszewski

I don’t really see the appeal of running around the woods with a paintball marker in fear of being hit with a small ball of paint that’s going to leave a nasty bruise, and the prospect of having a robot capable of firing 20 paintballs a second on my tail certainly doesn’t change my opinion. Designed and engineered by Chris Rogers, the Mega Hurtz looks like a re-purposed battle bot but instead of targeting fellow robots, it allows the person behind the controls to hunt down people playing a game of paintball. And since it’s equipped with video cameras and an LCD display on the remote, the driver doesn’t even have to put themselves in harm’s way.

At 280lbs it’s not exactly something you can just toss on your back and deploy in ‘battle’ when the outcome is grim, but rest assured when you do decide to break out the Mega Hurtz you’re probably not going to have too much trouble dominating a paintball match. It’s got everything from red laser sights, night vision, a range of 500 feet and is strong enough to tow a Hummer. Pretty unstoppable it seems, though ironically it would probably only take a single paintball hitting the camera lens, essentially blinding the driver, to render it harmless. At the moment Chris has started a Kickstarter project with varying levels of support options to fund his work on the Mega Hurtz, and hopes that the refinements he makes to its design will one day make the platform a usable tool for military and law enforcement applications.

[ The Mega Hurtz ] VIA [ Mobile Magazine ]

Microsoft Express Mice Let You Express How Cheap You Are

Microsoft Express Mouse (Images courtesy Microsoft)
By Andrew Liszewski

If you find a wireless mouse stuffed full of rechargeable batteries to be a bit heavy, or extra buttons too confusing, and are right-handed, you might want to check out Microsoft’s new Express Mouse. At $19.99 it’s the cheapest mouse you can buy that includes the company’s BlueTrack Technology for more accurate tracking, but it forgoes wireless functionality in lieu of an offset USB cable which makes it look like using the mouse on the left side of a computer might be a touch more difficult for south paws.

It’s of course got a scroll wheel and left and right mouse buttons, though the overall design seems to be inspired by Apple’s Magic Mouse, which is the one area where you don’t want to copy Apple’s design choices. Available starting in April in your choice of Flint Grey or Hibiscus Red, with four other colors joining the party in June including Turf Green, Dahlia Pink, Ultramarine and Coast Blue.

[ Microsoft Express Mouse ] VIA [ Ubergizmo ]

Review – Thermaltake Challenger Pro

This post is syndicated with permission from

Thermaltake has been branching out from their previous offerings related to PC cases, cooling and power supplies. We’ve already shown you a couple of their gaming peripherals in the Tt eSPORTS line. Today we have a second gaming keyboard, dubbed the Challenger Pro.

The Challenger line of keyboards currently comes in three flavors: regular, pro and Ultimate. We have the middle of the road, which only loses 2 macro keys, audio jacks and the ability to change the color of the backlight. Otherwise the Pro appears to be nearly identical to the Ultimate.

Some of the notable features include an adjustable red backlight, 10 customizable keys, a pair of USB 2.0 ports and a hand fan. That’s right, there is a removable fan that will blow air onto one of your hands. We’ll touch more on that later. Thermaltake also includes the necessary software for customizing your keys, along with a bit of on-board memory to store your profiles.

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Get Off The Road Wienermobile! The Highways Belong To Mr. Peanut Again

Planters Nutmobile (Images courtesy Planters)
By Andrew Liszewski

It’s not the first Nutmobile that Planters, and presumably their CEO Mr. Peanut, have commissioned, but the company’s latest promotional tool will certainly be one of the greenest and gaudiest creations rolling about the country this year. Built on a 2011 Isuzu NPR box truck, with the box bit swapped for a giant fiberglass peanut reinforced with a steel frame, the new Nutmobile can hold up to 3 passengers plus Mr. Peanut himself should he need to make a public appearance. (I hear he’s actually a bit of a recluse though, and is rumored to have a cannibalistic addiction to peanuts.)

And while it doesn’t appear to be in competition with the Volt or anything, the new Nutmobile is a shining example of promotional eco-friendliness. The engine runs on a mix of biodiesel and regular diesel, the windshield is made from 100% recycled glass, the interior features wood flooring reclaimed from an 1840’s barn and the vehicle’s batteries are charged with a combination of solar panels and a wind turbine built into the roof of the cab. And I’m just going to assume/hope that like Powell Motor’s disastrous ‘The Homer’ the new Nutmobile is also equipped with rack and peanut steering.

[ The New York Times – A Green Makeover for Planters Nutmobile ] VIA [ Autoblog ]

The CIA Has A Flickr Gallery Including Photos Of Some Of Their Declassified Toys

CIA's Spy Gear (Images courtesy the CIA)
By Andrew Liszewski

Easily the best part of the old James Bond films was when 007 stopped by Q’s laboratory to load up on multi-function gadgets, and occasionally pick up his new ride. But it turns out that Q’s creations didn’t only exist in the imaginations of Hollywood propmakers. The CIA actually had their own team dedicated to making authentic spy gadgets, and as part of recently relaunching their website, they now have a Flickr gallery showing off some of their declassified toys.

Charlie the robot fish was built to study underwater robot technology, and came complete with a pressurized hull, a ballast system for diving and ascending, wireless communications and even a propulsion system in his tail. And the roots and um… what appears to be ‘droppings’ are actually Cold War-era seismic intrusion detectors that can pick up the movement of people or animals up to 300 meters away and alert a nearby spy thanks to a built-in antenna and transmitter.

CIA's Spy Gear (Images courtesy the CIA)

And if you’ve ever wondered if someone has tampered with your mail, there’s a good chance they might of thanks to this letter removal device. Its pincers could be slipped into the unsealed gap at the top of an envelope and then discreetly extract the contents after rolling them up. Note to self: never mail a check to the CIA…

[ Flickr – CIAgov’s photostream ] VIA [ Slashdot ]