I tried to love Amazon's amazing e-ink electronic book reader, the Kindle, I really did. But I wanted a device that had full color and a higher-resolution display and that didn't limit the content you can view on it. So instead of shelling out $300, I decided to make my own version using a tablet PC -- basically a computer with a stowable keyboard (or no keyboard at all) that you mainly control with a stylus and touchscreen.
It doesn't have the long battery life or always-on connection for downloading books and magazines that the Kindle offers, but with a few system tweaks and the addition of some free software, it does everything else the Kindle does. Plus, unlike Amazon's gadget, it lets me read any comic book or magazine in color, and doesn't require an extra fee to read blogs and download PDFs. And since tablets never quite caught on with consumers, they're available by the truckload on eBay for about half the cost of a Kindle.
Time: 1 Hour
Cost: About $200
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.