Without conducting some tests on a smartphone, it’s hard to tell whether an upgrade is overdue or just a waste of money. The most important component to benchmark is the CPU, which is most easily done on Android phones—the free application Quadrant generates a graph comparing processor speed with that of other popular phones.
This month's "Why didn't I think of that" award goes to Panasonic's nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH) battery set, which converts AAs to C or D batteries. It comes with rechargeables, but alkalines work as well. Just pop on the appropriate jacket and you're ready. Of course, you get the battery life of a AA, not that of longer-lasting Cs and Ds.
Price: $30; includes six AAs, two AAAs, four adapters, and a charger.
Worker, presenter, painter: Acer's Tablet PC changes to suit your needs.
It's a regular laptop whose display swivels for presentations and folds back on itself to form a tablet. It'll be available by the end of this year at about the same price as a comparably equipped laptop. It'll also weigh less than 3 pounds and get 3 hours of battery life.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.