Each month we look beyond the shelves of your local big-box store to dig up a dozen of the best new ideas in gear. This is the stuff that is better, faster, stronger, and does more than pretty much anything we’ve seen before it. Click the gallery thumbnails below to dive in:
This purifier’s immersion sensor is extra-sensitive. Others use a current to detect water before turning on, but this one tracks the reflection of an LED to work better in purer, less-conductive water like freshly melted snow.
Microsoft LifeCam HD-5000
To avoid shadowy webcam chats, the LifeCam brightens your face on the fly. It tweaks brightness and exposurea€”or even slows down the frame rate to capture more lighta€”to make sure you’re more than a silhouette.
Radar guns capture a baseball’s speed using a single antenna in a four-to-nine-inch horn. This radar uses a flat array of 16 smaller antennas to track velocity, allowing the package to be about as small as an iPod.
Definitive Technology Mythos XTR-50
Not to be outdone by thin TVs, this 1.5-inch speaker is one third the thickness of others. The typically plastic diaphragm is now an aluminum dome, which needs less space to vibrate, leaving ample room for components like the voice coil inside.
The VectorX puts a golf pro in your yard. As you hit the ball, it takes two quick pictures. By measuring how far the ball moves between the snaps, its processor calculates the launch speed and spin to give feedback and help improve your swing.
Sanyo eneloop Bike SPL Series
Previous electric hybrid bikes drew energy only on downhills or when braking, but new Sanyos add torque sensors to the frame to tell when a rider is on easy flats, so their battery charges then too. The extra amps add seven miles of battery assistance.
$1,700 (Japan only)
HTC EVO 4G
The first phone on Sprint’s ultrafast 4G network, the EVO plays high-def Web video on its 4.3-inch screen without a blip. And its eight-megapixel camera can stream 720p video to the Web.
Price not set
Black & Decker iShred Vertical Shredder
Horizontal-shredder blades are exposed under the lid, but this design tucks them away. Since the blades are in a vertical 12-inch pillar, paper goes through while your hands keep a safe distance.
This headset puts extra protection between your voice and call-disrupting wind. Its microphone is tucked behind two metal grills and a layer of foam, which disperses strong gusts before they hit the mic, to cancel noise twice as effectively as others.
The AirStash drive expands your Wi-Fi-equpped MP3 player’s memory. The two connect through a wireless network that the AirStash creates, and you use your player’s browser to view photos, video and music stored on an SD card in the AirStash.
Mad Catz Cyborg R.A.T. 7
This mouse morphs to fit your hand. In addition to a moveable and interchangeable palm rest, a built-in adjustment tool lets you scoot out the thumb rest more than half an inch and pivot it up to 12 degrees.
EA Sports Active 2.0
EA’s videogame fitness system lets you exercise more naturally. Rather than gripping a controller, the system fits you with an arm and leg band and a heart-rate monitor that sync with a console for precise aerobic workouts.
Price not set.