CXRE » Gadgets

Unsure if the coffee pot is off? Ask it.

Reader’s Digest has been reporting on life management trends since before most of us were born, so it’s all the more satisfying that the “next big things” roundup in their May issue is not only relevant, but also includes gadgets that we haven’t seen discussed in too many other places. Among them is Intel’s Home Dashboard, a device that communicates with your home appliances and also permits you to control said appliances while away from home via your smart phone or laptop. It’s worth taking a moment to scan some of the dashboard’s nifty features but there are some particularly cool things worth noting here. For starters, the dash does more than “talk” to your appliances – it manages them. A smart thermostat can adjust the overall heating and cooling in your house (whether you’re there or not) and, according to Intel, adapt “its settings based on the weather conditions, the current energy price and […]

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Get a lot of your life back for $10

Maybe you didn’t take our advice about not buying an iPad, and you’re running one of its gaming apps right now. Or perhaps you’re nursing a bitter cup of coffee-house coffee as you watch “Fringe” on your laptop. Or maybe you’re just trying to find a song you can still stand on your MP3. No matter what you happen to be doing, we’re almost certain of one thing: at some point today, you probably spent some time trying to untangle your earbuds in an attempt to plug them into the device of your choice. The solution: Retractable ear buds. If you’ve ever used a bad tape measure whose tape refuses to retract into its casing gracefully, then you have reason to be skeptical of any retractable gadget. So here’s a strategy: try the Retrak Stereo Earbuds, as sturdy as models that sell for twice that — even models sold by Retrak — and at $9.99, […]

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Don’t buy an iPad today

The “magical and revolutionary” $499 iPad hits the Apple store today, and with beans has got to side with Fast Company writer Gina Trapani’s caution that you should not run out and buy an iPad just yet. Trapani’s first point goes to the fact that first-gen Apple products unapologetically come to market in a sometimes half-baked fashion. She points to the early iPhone adopters who felt burned by spending $500-$600 on a product whose price dip was inversely proportional to its performance improvement, to the point where as of this writing, Trapani notes, the iPhone “3G is now on sale for a measly $100, one fifth of the price of the first generation’s cheapest model.” She goes on to say very eloquently that “next year’s iPad will be faster, cheaper, less buggy, and have better apps and worthy competitors. Let all the deep-pocketed Jobs apostles be your canaries into the iPad coalmine.” Trapani’s other salient […]

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“Greentooth” speakerphone harnesses sun’s rays

Bluetooth speakerphones that do double duty as a hands-free car kit and conference speaker are not so common that they’ve become passé but enough have come to market that it’s already a struggle to figure out which of these gadgets is ahead of the pack. Well, if having your Bluetooth go green packs appeal, Scosche Industries unveiled a solar Bluetooth speakerphone at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show that also ended up in a CES travel gadget round-up by Travel & Leisure. Like most Bluetooth speakers designed with motorists in mind, the solChat, as it’s called, will take a charge from an old-school USB hookup or car adapter, but thereafter can be clipped to the windshield visor or can be suctioned directly to the windshield to soak up the sun’s rays; according to the manufacturer the “integrated solar panel continuously re-charges the lithium ion battery.” In all other respects the unit functions like most other similar […]

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How to return a non-returnable refurb

Ask a random bystander if he’s into online gambling and he might sniff that he doesn’t waste his money on games of chance. Ask him instead if he ever bought a refurbished piece of electronic equipment from an online retailer and he might say sure, from time to time. Well, newsflash, bystander, that’s online gambling. Some online retailers will permit you to send back a refurb as easily as you would a new item, issuing you a magical RMA (return merchandise authorization, aka return material authorization). But just as often, you may find that your retailer’s policy is to replace your refurb rather than credit your original form of payment. A “with beans” correspondent recently tried to use a retailer’s online form to return a lousy refurbished phone and the knee-jerk response of the form was to spit back the response that an RMA could not be issued for the item. In so many words, […]

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