USB gadgets: Wacky workables

USB gadgets: Wacky workables
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First Published: Wed, Sep 19 2007. 01 17 AM IST

Updated: Wed, Sep 19 2007. 01 17 AM IST
WHAT IS USB?
Universal serial bus is a very popular hardware interface for attaching peripheral devices via a single standardized socket. USB devices are plug-and-play and allow gadgets to be hotwapped-- connected or disconnected-- without rebooting. They consume such little power that they do not need extra power supply. Most USB devices can be used without installing specific driver software.
AQUARIUM AND HAMSTER WHEEL
Nothing fishy goes on in this USB-powered desktop toy that can work with any PC or gaming console. The twin-piscine tropical vertebrates have hinged tails and life-like motility. A switchable aqua blue LED can light up the aquarium whenever you like. And there’s another switch to put a little motion in this little ocean as well.
Price: $20
www.thinkgeek.com/gadgets/electronic/6984/
The cute furball of a hamster starts scrambling inside the red wheel as you start clattering away on your keyboard. The faster you type, the faster the hamster runs. An on/off switch ensures relief to the mitey runner. Statutory assurance for the petulant and peeved: Both contraptions are mere replicas of the real things.
Price: $45
www.iwantoneofthose.com/new-arrivals/usb-hamster-wheel/index.html
GIFT SET
This all-silver USB gift set (for men, if you please) bundles a mini vacuum cleaner, a desk lamp, a cup warmer as well as a mood light pen holder. The vacuum cleaner comes with a brush, the desk lamp has three bright-white LEDs and the cup warmer promises to keep your cuppa hot. The mood light pen holder gives you a four-port power hub. Everything is USB-driven. Since it’s all plug-and-play here, no installation drivers are required on either Windows or Mac OS platforms. And the accompanying USB cable is as much as 4ft long.
Price: $30
http://usb.brando.com.hk/prod_detail.php?prod_id= 00320&dept_id=015&cat_id=035
VISION AND POSTURE REMINDER
This ingenious appliance is a nag contrivance. It has an ultrasonic, interactive distance detecting sensor that mothers your sitting posture as well as the distance of your eyes from the computer screen. Secure its cable into a USB port and set it up atop your monitor. A blue LED tells you if you are too far, a red LED tells you if you are too close; and a flashing LED signifies you are at a suitable distance and in the appropriate posture. No battery and no maintenance required.
Price: $26
www.thanko.jp/visomate/
CHESS SET
If you love chess but hate playing it on a computer, check this mate. It is an actual chess set that can interface with your PC and allows all programming and sound to be activated on your monitor. So you can play, pause and restart your game at the click of a button, hit the hint button to help you decide on your next best move, play against the computer or a friend, determine how long you will allocate for each move, save and email the results to your friend, save a screen as a jpg file, or save the moves as a data file. Yes, the chessboard is roll-up and you can always lug it along in your laptop bag.
Price: $40
http://usb.brando.com.hk/prod_detail.php?prod_id=00271
NECKTIE
Pay heed, all ye gentlemen who like to dress propah all the time. Yon necktie here has an in-built USB-powered fan in its faux knot. Slip into its noose and the knot at the top blows air up on to your chinny-chin-chin. A solitary USB connection drives the fan—and ties you down to your computer. Being rather short in length (made by/for the Japanese), it may be best suited for vertically-challenged individuals.
www.thanko.jp/usbnecktie/
SOLAR CHARGER
With so many USB gadgets around, what if you don’t have a computer handy? Well, organize a solar charger like this one. It can charge two USB devices at the same time, that includes USB chargeable cellphones, PDAs, MP3 players, and MP4 players. The 213gm charger takes about five to eight hours of sunlight to recharge fully. The 2000mAH built-in lithium battery can be recharged with AC power.
Price: $59
http://usb.brando.com.hk/prod_d tail.php?prod_id=00314&dept_id=015&cat_id=035
ASHTRAY
If all the cardio-pulmonary hazard warnings around you have had little effect on your puffing, perhaps you could give thought to those around you and acquire something like this USB ashtray. This diminutive, cocky-looking doodad absorbs smoke in your working area and reduces the fumes and odours from spreading. The smoke passes through its filter and is absorbed by a carbon casing. The ashtray and filter can be detached and cleaned whenever required.
Price: $22
www.usbgeek.com/prod_detail.php?prod_id=0191
INFLATING DRIVE
The more data you feed this 2-gig flash drive, the fatter it gets. Yes, this USB pen drives with its built-in micro pump actually gains in girth as more and more data is stored on it. And it retains its bloated state even after you have?unplugged?it.?Many of you will find it a handy, at-a-glance visual indicator of prevailing data storage conditions. Price and availability: Not yet known as the drive is still at the prototype stage.
http://plusminus.ru/
DANCE PAD AND MAT
All that rhyme and rhythm got your feet tapping but you’re still shy of stepping on to the dance floor, eh? Bung in the Ignition Dance Pad and practise all your moves with this foam-padded electronic game controller used for dance games. This one is quite compatible with PlayStation, PlayStation 2, Xbox consoles, and PCs via USB.
Price: $80
www.redoctane.com/ignitionpadv3.html
And if you’re not twinkle-toed and shun dancing shoes, clip-up this fingertip Dance Mat and show off your nimble knuckles instead. Once hooked into your PCs USB slot, it gives you music-driven arrows to chase and a ‘move counter’ to track your success.
Price: $19
www.iwantoneofthose.com/usb-dancemat/index.html
PIANO AND ELECTRIC GUITAR
Plug the iAXE full-sized guitar into a USB port, don your headphones and you’re ready to rock, riff and strum. The software simulates different-effect pedals, includes a metronome feature, can play MP3, WAV and OGG songs and allows recording.
Price: $100
www.thinkgeek.com/computing/avcards/8c43/
Tickling the USB jacked-up ivories of this piano gives you eight percussion instruments, 128 non-percussion instruments, six tones, 100 pre-recorded rhythms, tempo adjustments, vibrato and portamento tone effects, record and playback, et al.
Price: $45
http://www.usbgeek.com/prod_detail.php?prod_id=0558
PAPER SHREDDER AND LETTER OPENER
Got paper skeletons in your files that need to be decimated? Get this 661gm docu-killer and clip it to your USB port. Then feed all the hardcopy versions of your confidential documents, love notes, scribbles, idling doodles, and unnecessary business cards down its 126mm throat, two at a time. And it chews these printed pieces of paper into little strips of scrap. And ah, by the way, it also functions as a letter opener. Sadly, its shredding capacity is quite limited. But go see the demo anyway.
www.usbgeek.com/prod_detail.php?prod_id=0504
RECHARGEABLE BATTERIES
Time to go green. This set of twin AA rechargeable nickel metal hydride batteries come with a built-in USB snout. Whenever these USBCell Batteries run out of juice, you simply stick ’em into a USB socket for about five hours and replenish the juice. Each battery carries an LED to indicate charge status. Great money-saving and environment-saving alternative—not just because they check wasteful alkaline disposal, but also because they don’t contain cadmium.
Price: $13
www.iwantoneofthose.com/office-toys/usb-cell/index.html
HUB
Well, it’s not just a glossy white, polycarbonate finished, slick-looking, Ora-Ïto crafted designer orb we’ve got here. It’s a multi-purpose tool which extends you USB prowess by four USB 2.0 ports and two FireWire 400 ports. Among the cluster of these flexi cables are eight colourful LEDs, one USB light to illuminate your immediate ambience and one USB fan to cool your neighbouring environs. All easy to use, totally plug-and-play and hot-swappable.
Price: $80
www.lacie.com/us/products/product.htm?pid=10854
MINI FRIDGE
Hard to imagine a contraption as cool as a fridge that can squat on a desktop, run off your computer and chill out a full can of Coke or Cobra for you. Okay, it holds just one can at a time, but it needs only 5 volts of power and weighs just over 350gm. And yeah, it even has an internal LED illuminator. This play-and-play device boasts of a cooling pad that can plummet temperatures to 8.5 degrees Celsius after five minutes after being activated.
Price: $33
http://usb.brando.com.hk/prod_detail.php?prod_id=00286
AC SHIRT
This is perfect for those powerless, piteous days when you’re sitting soaked in sweat, sweltering and simmering in the sizzling sticky heat. Slip into this USB-powered air-cooled shirt, plug it into your PC’s USB port and just cool off. The fans sewn into both sides of this shirt invented by former Sony technician Kouzi Ichigaya, suck fresh air in, vapourize the sweat and heat and bring down your body temperature. That’s not all. The fans come with switches and speed regulators. UPS and inverter has packed up? Never mind. Switch to the shirt’s four AA batteries, or your car’s lighter socket for power.
www.kilian-nakamura.com/catalog/conditioned-shirt-p-51.html
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First Published: Wed, Sep 19 2007. 01 17 AM IST