God Bless the USB

Got a spare port? Not any more you don't.

Photographs by David Bashaw; top right: courtesy Zip-Linq

Photographs by David Bashaw; top right: courtesy Zip-Linq

Once upon a time USB was a simple way to connect computers and peripherals. It carried data, was daisy-chainable, and could power devices. Eight years after its introduction, there seems to be no end to its uses, from keyboards and printers to lights and noodle soakers. Here are the latest items plucked from the far reaches of the USB spectrum.

1. USB Vibe

An anonymous staffer picked this up in Japan. The USB Vibe oscillates at 3,600 vibrations per minute (60 per second), enough to adequately massage away hand tension, or whatever other kind of tension you need to relieve. $10; grandtec.com

2. Zip-Linq

Juice up your talked-out cellphone with this USB-
powered charger. Its retractable cable expands from 4 inches to over 2 feet, and its interchangeable heads work with more than 170 phones. $30; ziplinq.com

3. Eyeball USB WebCam

This creature, modeled after a Japanese cartoon character, has a lens in its eyeball that can beam your image out over the Net. The cam is not yet available in the U.S., but keep an eye out. $50; www.gate.jp

4. Freecom USBCard

An alternative to key-chain USB drives, this credit-card-size drive easily squeezes into an overstuffed wallet. Slim as it is, it can store up to a gig in its 3.4-by-2.1-by-0.15-inch body. $100?$350; usbcard.com

5. Belkin 7-Port Hub

USB-philes who've outgrown their ports will relish Belkin's sleek new 7-Port Hub. Its slim profile won't clutter your work space, and you can stack multiple units to support even more plug-ins. $50; belkin.com

6. Sony Micro Vault with Fingerprint Access

This 128MB storage device uses fingerprint identification to keep data safe; an ideal feature for the security-conscious (and for those who can't remember their passwords). $140; sony.com

7. Gigabyte GN-WLBZ201

There are plenty of 128MB flash drives with unpronounceable names, but this one has a twist: It's also a Wi-Fi adapter. Plug it in for an instant Net connection to any hot spot. An 802.11g version will be out this year. $90; giga-byte.com

8. USB Cup Cozy

It's not powerful enough to heat up cold coffee, but Velcro this insulated cozy around an already warm mug of joe, and this baby will keep your java steamy for an hour. $10;
newmotiontech.com