Each month we look beyond the shelves of your local big-box store to dig up 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:
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Newton Terra Momentus
The soles of these sneaks have a suspension to soften the feel of rough terrain in off-road runs. When your foot lands, four air-filled chambers compress an elastic skin, which holds the energy until you push off the ground, absorbing shock and giving you extra oomph.
Toshiba Portégé R700-S1330
At three pounds, this Toshiba is the lightest 13-inch laptop to have both a DVD drive and a full-voltage processor. To keep its 2.66-gigahertz Intel chip cool, vents on the side channel air directly over it and out the back.
Light & Motion Vis 360°
This helmet-mounted bike light shines a full 360 degrees of light at car drivers’ eye level to make sure cyclists are always visible. The white LED headlamp is flanked by two amber side bulbs, and a red taillight rounds out the circle.
Seven45 Studios Power Gig AirStrike
Seven45 has shrunk space-hogging videogame drum kits into an 18-inch base by eliminating the noisy drum pads. From the floor, it shines four infrared beams up toward the player that, when broken by a stick, translate into drum strikes.
$230 (includes game and guitar); powergig.com
Urbanears earbuds boost safety by letting you hear music and sound around you. Each ‘bud has two rubber knobs that let it hover outside your ear canal, leaving a gap for ambient noise to pass, while an oversize 15-millimeter driver plays tunes.
Fujitsu LifeBook AH Series with PointGrab
Skip tracks you hate without walking to the computer. This laptop’s webcam uses software to track hands and respond to movements, such as sideways waves to advance songs, from up to 15 feet away.
Price not set (Japan only); fujitsu.com
Nintendo’s 3DS is the first 3-D portable gaming device that doesn’t require glasses. Its upper, 3.5-inch screen is made of stacked LCDs that direct independent images to each eye, so Mario and friends appear to jump out. It also allows you to adjust the depth of the effect with a sliding switch.
Price not set; nintendo.com
Nokero N100 Bulb
Nokero’s bulb-shaped lamp runs solely on solar power. Its battery harvests energy from four two-inch panels and can power its five LEDs for as long as two hours on one eight-hour charge—enough light to get campers from sunset to bedtime.
Stanley FatMax Ratcheting T-Handle Sets
A second bit holder on the head of this T-handle driver increases torque in small spaces. When you use it sideways, you can hold it by the longer end for a more secure grip—and with more leverage than with the average screwdriver.
From $20; stanleytools.com
Oakley Sunglasses With 00 Polarized Lenses
Oakley’s new lens makes it easier to read LCD screens on GPSs and dashboards. The lenses’ polarizing filter is dialed down slightly to allow the glow from the screens to shine through, instead of blacking it out the way other polarizers do.
Michelin Primacy MXM4
These Michelins can cut nearly two car lengths off braking distances in wet road conditions. Along with the usual petroleum, their tread rubber is mixed with sunflower oil, which helps grip the road more consistently across a range of temperatures.
Bosch Axial Glide Miter Saw
Since it replaces the usual guide rails with retractable hinged arms, this miter saw is more compact and stable than competitors. Its two arms are fitted with 12 ball bearings, so the blade moves smoothly and stays true over time.
From $700; boschtools.com
Mad Catz Eclipse Wireless Litetouch Keyboard
This keyboard is a quick-launch master. Its numeric keypad is actually a 4.4-inch touchscreen with a mode in which 17 programmable keys can each open three apps or Web sites—hitting the “sports” button can open up a game stream, team blog and ESPN.com all at once.
The Bringrr makes it nearly impossible to drive off without your phone. The four-inch dongle connects to your car’s accessory port or cigarette lighter, and if you turn the ignition with your Bluetooth-enabled phone more than six feet away, an alarm sounds.
Sony DSC-WX5 Cyber-Shot
This camera sharpens both what’s near and what’s far in one image. It focuses on the foreground, snaps a pic, and then refocuses to capture the background. The processor looks at the two images’ textures to judge where the two parts split and combines them in less than three seconds.
HP e-All-in-One Printers
Even if you’re not home, you can send documents to these printers, and the pages will be waiting when you get there. Each printer has its own e-mail address, to which you can send messages or Microsoft Office documents to print from any computer or smartphone.
From $100; hp.com
Saeco Xelsis Digital ID
The Xelsis knows you better than your corner barista does. Its touch panel has a fingerprint scanner that memorizes the preferences, such as strength and amount of froth, of up to six people and automatically brews one cup at a time.
$3,200 (est.); saeco-usa.com
Belkin Conserve Valet
This charging station eliminates the need for wall chargers that suck power all day long. Its processor lets it draw energy only when a USB-powered gadget, such as a phone or headset, is connected, and it will automatically shut off after 4.5 hours regardless.