Every month we search far and wide to bring you a dozen of the best new ideas in gear. These gadgets are the first, the best and the latest. Check out the gallery below to get the first look at what consumer technology has brought us this month.
Victorinox’s flash drive protects your data with its own life. If it detects a hacker closing in on its password, it will draw enough power from the computer’s USB port to fry itself.
Victorinox Swiss Army Slim from $40
Craftsman’s pliers help you see what you’re doing in dark corners. A button on the handle switches on a 43-lumen LED inside the fulcrum. With regular work—several uses a week—the light will last for well over a year on three watch batteries.
Craftsman Lighted Pliers from $20 (Feb. 2012)
Canon’s Bluetooth mouse is the first to double as a full numeric entry pad, making it easier to crunch numbers on a limited laptop keyboard. It also works as a standalone calculator.
Canon X Mark 1 Mouse Slim $60
Running on an efficient cellphone processor instead of the powerhungry chip of its precedessor, Roku’s three-inch connected set-top box cuts electricity consumption to just under two watts—about the same as a nightlight—while remaining fast enough to stream high-def Netflix.
Roku 2 XS, $100
The Flex Duo gives cooks the equivalent of two ovens. A removable ceramic-and-aluminum divider splits the oven into two chambers that can cook at temperatures up to 75 degrees apart. Convection fans move warmth from the lower heating element into the upper chamber.
Samsung Flex Duo Oven $1,600
The AquaPulse heart-rate monitor lets swimmers hear their heart rate underwater. The device attaches to a goggle strap and measures heart rate with an infrared sensor that detects the subtle changes in skin color associated with capillary blood flow. The three-inch dongle sends vibrations through the swimmer’s cheekbone that his ear picks up as dictated numbers.
Finis AquaPulse $150;
The H2n tunes in on specific sounds in loud rooms better than other portable recorders. Five studio-grade mics—the most in its class—capture separate channels, which can be retuned either during or after recording to highlight what you want to hear and damp the rest.
Zoom H2n; $200
Now See It
A Web-connected HDTV running TiVo’s recommendation engine, Insignia’s set uncovers your tastes over time. As you explore listings, the suggestion bar repopulates itself continually to cater its picks to whatever genre or channel you’re currently browsing.
Insignia Connected TV from $500
Sony’s touchscreen e-book reader replicates the act of scribbling notes on a page better than any other reader. When its four corner-mounted infrared sensors see the stylus touch the page, the reader switches into note-taking mode.
Sony Reader WiFi $149
Unlike most cotton fabric, this sweatshirt won’t soak up rain as if it were a sponge. With a water-resistant polymer bonded to its cotton thread, the hoodie repels more than 80 percent of moisture. And since the polymer is not applied as a coating, the sweatshirt still breathes.
Under Armour Charged Cotton Storm Hoody from $60
The first solar smartphone in the U.S., Samsung’s Replenish can charge itself. The 10 monocrystalline solar cells on the battery cover can convert an hour of sunlight into 20 minutes of talk time.
Samsung Replenish, $80 (with two-year sprint contract and a solar-charging battery cover)
Sonos’s new Internet radio speakers automatically switch between mono and stereo output. Place one vertically, and it merges stereo signals into mono; lay it horizontally, and accelerometers trigger a shift back to stereo.
Sonos PLAY:3 and Sonos Bridge $350