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:
Aqualok Boston Fern
Plants potted in Aqualok plastic need only a quarter of the water of those in soil. The foamlike material is injected with thousands of small air pockets that, when flooded, hold onto water so it won’t drain out the bottom of the planter.
HP LaserJet Pro P1606dn
Anyone can plug their laptop into this laser printer and be ready to go in a minute. That’s because 64 megabytes of onboard memory hold all its driver software, which automatically installs on any Windows computer connected via USB.
Cuisinart PowerEdge 700
Bits of veggies and herbs won’t get stuck on the sides of this new blender. Its four blades curve at slightly different angles, creating a figure-eight-shaped cyclone that pulls ingredients to the center of the pitcher.
Casio Pathfinder PAW5000-1
The second hand on this Casio does quadruple duty. When you switch to the compass, barometer or altimeter, a dedicated motor moves it to show the reading. The motor and a chip revert it to the correct time.
The Bobble breaks the bottled-water habit by cleaning tap water on the spot. As you drink, water passes through a carbon filter in the neck, which traps chlorine and other contaminants and lasts through 300 refills.
Data Robotics Drobo FS
The Drobo FS is extra-reliable storage and acts like a home server. Half of its processor backs up files across five hard drives, while the other half runs apps to give you a shared iTunes library and more.
SeaGate FreeAgent GoFlex
SeaGate’s new hard drive is future-proof. It lets you change how it connects to computersa€”say, upgrading from USB 2.0 to super-speedy USB 3.0a€”by switching an attachment that contains a new port and circuit board.
Microsoft KIN TWO
The KIN phone lasts through an entire weekend, even while streaming social-networking updates every 15 minutes. It offloads battery-hogging tasks to a Microsoft server that compiles feeds from Twitter, Facebook and others and sends them to the handset.
$100 (with contract)
These shutter glasses are the first to work with nearly every 3-D HDTV. Their infrared sensor checks for a signal from the TV; when it sees one, it opens and closes the left and right lenses in tune with the TV’s refresh rate.
This portable iPod speaker is the first to use solar power to both run and charge your player. Its dual-cell lithium-ion battery holds enough juice to fully charge an iPhone, or if its 4.7-inch panel is in the sun, it can power the player as it runs.
SHIELD Tech Transitions SOLFX Visor
The SHIELD saves motorcyclists from carrying sunglasses to combat collision-causing glare. It’s the first helmet visor with a UV-sensitive coating that automatically darkens in sunlight.
Princeton Tec MPLS
The three-inch arm on this clip-on lamp is a tightly wound aluminum spring, which keeps the package under an ounce and allows its 12-lumen LED to pivot 180 degrees—perfect for outdoorsmen to snap onto vests or helmets.