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Author Archives: Evan Ackerman

Math Is More Fun When You Can Hit People With It

plush_calc

By Evan Ackerman

Everything, everything is better if, in addition to whatever its primary purpose is, it can also be used to a.) hit people and b.) take naps. This calculator may do fancy stuff with numbers (also known as witchcraft), but most importantly, it’s soft and squishy. And being solar powered, it’s Earth friendly, too! Yaaayyy!

Someone really needs to hack this thing with an accelerometer so that you can throw it at people and have it actually do stuff. Like, gentle toss is add, spinning toss is subtract, and severe beatdown is multiply. Let’s get multiplyin’!

The Solar Plush Calculator is $20 from a website called Silly Dilly Tot Spot, which also happens to be a kid’s TV show on the BBC.

[ Plush Calculator ] VIA [ Make ]

Seats 3D Shows The View From Your Seat

blazers

By Evan Ackerman

Seats 3D is a website that provides virtual views of all kinds of athletic arenas, concert halls, and other event venues. Who cares? You care! Next time you buy a ticket to something, you can use Seats 3D to look up the view beforehand to make sure that you’re getting the view that you’re paying for. The only thing missing from the 3D view is all of the tall and annoying people who will inevitably be sitting in front of you.

So obviously, we need ticketing systems to take height into account. When buying your ticket, it should cross reference your name with some kind of national database (gonna need lots of funding for it) with your height and hat preferences. Then, someone should come to your house and verify that you are as tall as you say you are (just to be sure). That information goes back into the Seats 3D system, and it puts a silhouette into the virtual stadium, so that other people can tell if they might be sitting behind someone unacceptably tall.

I suppose there’s a chance that this might add a small premium to the cost of a ticket, but won’t it be worth it to know that your viewing experience will be uncompromised? I’d say definitely, maybe.

[ Seats 3D ] VIA [ GeekSugar ]

Universal Wrist Charger

universal-wrist_charger_gaming

By Evan Ackerman

I’ll be honest… I usually carry around three (yes, three) different mobile charging apparatuses when I know I’m going to be out with my gadgets all day: one of these, one of these, and this. Is it overkill? Probably. But being a ::cough:: professional journalist, running out of batteries is simply not an option. Even I, however, would not wear a universal wrist charger. It’s just too dorky, and I’m really more of a geek. Or I like to think so, anyway.

If you just look at the numbers, this universal wrist charger is actually pretty decent: it has a 1500 mAh battery, weighs 82 grams, and will charge anything that only needs 5 volts (same as a USB port). Since most of your gadgets are probably hand-held, it’s a convenient way to be using something and charging it at the same time. Problem is, there’s really no getting around the utter dorkiness of this thing. If it also had a little LCD on it or something, you could at least pretend that it was some kind of ridiculously fancy watch, but as it is, it just has 4 little lights to indicate what level of charge it has. Wait a sec… Random lights? Weird design? I’ve got it! Just tell everyone that you’re sporting the latest and greatest from Tokyo Flash, and wear the universal wrist charger in anonymous pride. Problem solved!

The universal wrist charger is available now from ThinkGeek for $35.

[ ThinkGeek ] VIA [ Craziest Gadgets ]

Chevy Volt Inches Closer To Production

FirstVoltAssembly-thumb-550

By Evan Ackerman

Remember back in 2007 when the Chevy Volt was just a wicked looking concept car with the same sort of “sure, we’re going to be producing this in the next 3-5 years” dreams as many other concepts? There have been some changes along the way, certainly, but there are now Volts coming off the assembly lines at GM factories. These particular cars are called “pre-production” since they’ll be tested to make sure the production process is up to snuff, but for all practical purposes, GM is actually producing Volts now, and I for one am impressed.

It remains to be seen, I suppose, whether or not I will remain impressed when GM announces the final pricing for the Volt, which I’m guessing will be a little bit too close to $40,000. They seem to be on track for a late 2010 commercial release, and hopefully production will be such that the non rich and famous like you will be able to buy one in a dealership by early 2011. Me, I’m famous (I write for OhGizmo), so I’m pretty sure they’ll be sending me one for free.

Right?

[ GM ] VIA [ DVICE ]

Premium HDMI Cables: More Of A Ripoff Than You Think

cables_sm

By Evan Ackerman

A couple years ago, we posted about some self-described “audiophiles” who pitted premium Monster Cables against soldered coat hangers to see if there was any audible difference. And shockingly, shockingly, there wasn’t. Those cables were analog, and in the world of digital signals, cables should make even less of a difference, but that hasn’t stopped companies from betting that people are rich and dumb and trying sell you on them. After the jump, check out the rest of the above graphic, which makes it perfectly clear that you only buy expensive HDMI cables if you hate starving children.Continue Reading

RCA Airnergy Now Called AirPower, Shows Off New Designs But No Details

airpower

By Evan Ackerman

Remember the Airnergy WiFi power harvester that we showed you last January at CES? You know, the thing that charges your gadgets out of thin air that several commenters pointed out was (mathematically speaking) at best impractical and at worst impossible? Well, it’s now called AirPower, and while RCA still won’t provide details on how it actually manages to pull substantial amounts of electricity out of the air in what seems to be a violation of the first (I think) law of thermodynamics, they have designed some new cases for it.

So, yeah. Looking good. But does it actually work? RCA reiterated that the AirPower will charge itself “with around five to six hours of Wi-Fi exposure” by “regurgitating and converting the 2.4GHz Wi-Fi signal,” which is the same sort of thing we heard at CES… I really want to believe that RCA wouldn’t keep showing this thing off and making the same impressive claims if they didn’t have a working one in a R&D bunker somewhere, but at the same time, here’s a quote from a commenter on our original article:

“By my calculations, 100% efficiency and absorption at 5 feet away from a 100mW home router, (reasonable figures), it would take 34.5 years to charge that blackberry battery.”

Also, the release date of the AirPower charger has been pushed from this summer to the holidays, and the pricing has gone from $40 to “has yet to be determined.” C’mon RCA, laws of physics be damned, I want this to be real.

VIA [ DVICE ]

Water Cooling Lets You Overclock Your Laptop Stand

cooler

By Evan Ackerman

There are a couple different types of laptop coolers… Passive ones, that just help air get underneath your laptop, and active ones, that include fans and stuff. New to the “and stuff” category of laptop coolers is this water cooled version, which may or may not be called the F11124-ASL-1.

Now, it would be really nice if somehow this water cooling feature enabled the fan to blow cold air up into your laptop, but that’s not what it does. From what I can gather from the description and the pictures, the heat pump just cools itself, as opposed to your laptop, since the water doesn’t seem to go anywhere near your computer. I guess maybe having a cool laptop pad is better than having a warm laptop pad, but since the heat pump also looks like it manages to block the fan (which otherwise might be doing something useful), I’m left wondering just what exactly all the hullabaloo is about.

There’s no pricing or release date on this thing, but even if there was, I probably wouldn’t buy one until I figured out what it, you know, does.

[ SonData ] VIA [ Everything USB ]

Heatswell Grows A Sleeve On Your Coffee Cup


By Evan Ackerman

If that’s not one of the weirdest things you’ve ever seen, you’ve been spending too much time on the internet (make sure you watch until 1:50 at least). Heatswell, as it’s called, is an instant hot beverage protection sleeve that “grows” out of the cup when hot liquid is poured in. Whatever it’s made of, it’s non-toxic (they say), recyclable, biodegradable, FDA approved (for whatever that’s worth), and feels like a cloth towel. The 3D logo effect is pretty cool too, I can only assume that the ink is conducting heat substantially better than the rest of the cup is. It appears as though the Heatswell material is sort of painted on (applied as a liquid), and it also looks like the hotter the beverage, the more vigorous the reaction, which means you’ll get more padding. Nice.

Amron Experimental is billing this as cost-saving and convenient for places like coffee shops, since they don’t have to spend time and money on an additional little thingy for each cup. They don’t talk about the cost it would add to each cup, however, and my guess is that whatever the heck is in this stuff, it probably costs more than a sliver of cardboard. If you’re optimistic, Amron Experimental is currently selling a stake in the Heatswell intellectual property and patent filing.

[ Amron Experimental ] VIA [ DVICE ]

Latest Eye-Fi Cards Offer Endless Memory For Reasonable Price

eyefi

By Evan Ackerman

The Eye-Fi Pro X2, which debuted at the beginning of this year, offers “endless memory” by deleting pictures off of itself after wirelessly uploading them to your computer and/or online photo storage service using built-in 802.11n WiFi. Not unexpectedly, such a useful feature isn’t cheap, with the 8 gig Eye-Fi Pro X2 costing a staggering $150.

Eye-Fi has just released two more SD cards in the X2 series with the endless memory feature, the Eye-Fi Connect X2 and the Eye-Fi Explore X2. The Connect X2 holds 4 gigs of stuff (not like it matters that much with the endless memory), while the Explore X2 is 8 gigs and includes lifetime geotagging of dubious quality and a year of hotspot WiFi access. The best news is that the Connect X2 is only $50, which is way more than a regular 4 gig SD card but way less than the $150 Pro X2 or even the Explore X2, which costs $100. If you don’t have an Eye-Fi card yet, the Connect X2 is definitely the one to get. If you’re looking for justification to upgrade to the Explore X2, if you travel a lot, Eye-Fi would also like you to know that their WiFi hotspots now include Starbucks and BP gas stations.

Incidentally, at CES Eye-Fi told me that the card’s ability to delete pictures off of itself is a hardware thing, not a software thing, so it’s not something that they can add to older cards with a firmware update or something like that. Sad, but sometimes, that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

You can find Eye-Fi cards at Best Buy, Amazon.com, Adorama, and B&H among other places.

[ Eye-Fi ]