Who Knew?

H2O Man Swim Waterproof MP3 Player

The endless summer is less boring when there's a soundtrack running between your ears—even when they're wet. Whether you're lying on the beach or doing laps in a pool, the H2O Man Swim Waterproof MP3 Player from Intova provides up to 13 hours of audio accompaniment.

Anywhere Credit Card Terminal

Sales don't always take place behind a store counter. In a wireless world, it's possible to check the validity of someone's intended credit card purchase from any place on earth in range of cell phone or Wi-Fi reception. The Macally SwipeIt Secure Credit Card Terminal is a one-pound accessory for an iPhone or iPod touch that lets you process payments from under a roof or out in the sun on the piazza.

Dressing for the Tropics—That Means Us!

With temperatures pushing into triple digits, the Northeast has become a sweltering steam bath, and no place for photographers or A/V pros to be working outside. But if you must, plan to dress for the heat. You want a lightly colored, brimmed hat like the Soundman Sun Hat from Koala (left), not a baseball cap. No matter the logo, a cap leaves your ears and the back of your neck exposed, a recipe for disaster under an unforgiving sun.

Music for Wet Heads

Nothing beats floating in your pool or enjoying your hot tub unless you count the addition of music. The Grace Digital Aqua Sounder is a transmitting dock for your iPod, paired with a waterproof floating speaker. The speaker (left) can be up to 150 feet away. The transmitter is powered by four AA batteries or an included AC wall plug. The speaker seals in six AAs, good for up to 10 hours of your favorite sounds.

A Mighty Wind

Just in time to thwart the heat and humidity of summer comes a USB-powered fan embedded in a bamboo stand for your notebook. Finally, you don't have to type fast to create a soothing breeze. The Macally Adjustable Bamboo Cooling Stand is made from bamboo, so no trees died in the manufacture of the product. Dual 2.5-inch fans are built in, the air circulating through the bamboo slits.

Who Put the LED in Jellied Fish?

/node/3981/revisions/39451/viewEven if it looks like a prop from V, the Jellyfish Effect LED Light from American-DJ could become more than an alien visitor for the itinerant DJ shopping for a portable light show. The 5-pound, 12.5 inch-wide light generator, with handle for carrying or hanging, provides two types of effects: beams that drop down and bathe dancers (or an empty floor) in red, green, blue and white light and a color-changing, glowing case that can be admired from a distance.

When the Sharpener Isn't What It Seems

Ever since nanny-cams grabbed the spotlight, video surveillance has hardly been the monopoly of law enforcement. Cameras masquerading as common household objects can be bought by anyone. This raises the question: sure it's a hidden camera, but is the outward product functional? Can the clock with a clandestine camera tell time? As a value-oriented consumer, I want the cover story to be genuine, not a prop. It turns out the answer depends on the product.

Hello Pink Power

It defies logic how a mouth-less white cat known as Hello Kitty could become a marketing phenomenon for 36 years. Introduced as a vinyl coin purse in 1974 in Japan, Hello Kitty may have reached the height of global popularity in 2007 when she debuted as a balloon at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Her likeness now adorns a dwindling range of products from lunch boxes to cameras.

Who Knew? Main Squeeze

One of my earliest memories was arranging clothespins on a windowsill by a clothesline overlooking a courtyard in Boro Park, Brooklyn. It gave a 3-year-old a sense of productivity and a lesson in hand-eye coordination. It also gave me a lifelong love of spring-loaded wood, those uniform legions of easy-on, easy-off fasteners that are as all-purpose as Duct Tape but without the sticky residue. And they're reusable.

Green Day's Call for Cranky Consumers

The 40th Anniversary of Earth Day might inspire some of us to conserve electricity by pulling AC adapters from wall outlets and curbing the excessive use of disposable batteries. While converting our homes to wind-or solar-power may be beyond our means, exerting a little elbow grease is within all our budgets. That's why the Sima CR-200 Crank Power Radio & Flashlight makes so much sense.

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