Welcome to the hardware section devoted to some of my favorite devices or those gadgets on my my wishlist. I am going to start with a few things on my wishlist ranging from the near future to downright cool but ultimately unattainable.
First up we have probably the most customizable keyboard possible from Art. Lebedev Studio:
Underneath each clear plastic key there is a miniature display that can be a customized shortcut for any text character, symbol or image. They key shortcuts are not permanent and can be changed dynamically based on your current workflow whether that be playing a video game, browsing the web or using a very technical program with many shortcuts like Photoshop. I love how innovative this keyboard but I don’t think I can ever justify paying 1,500$ for a keyboard. If you are interested here is a link. I want to emphasize that Art. Lebdev has many other cool products that are much more affordable.
iBackpack is a bag specifically designed for travelers who carry around a bunch of tech such as a tablet, cellphone, and laptop/smartbook. It is waterproof and comes with a battery to charge up to 4 usb devices at once, a wifi hotspot, security system, and a bluetooth speaker/microphone. I think the ibackpack would be ideal for for buisness people who spend quite a bit of time at the airport. I have yet to get one of these for myself but it is on the wishlist. Its estimated price is 250-400$. If you’re interested check out their kickstarter page.
Hardkernel makes a series of mini board computers similar to the raspberry pi. With the C1+ and indeed any ODROID board you get much better price/performance ratio than most comparable products. I would recommend picking up an ODROID product if you want an always on network device to share files, stream music & video, or download torrents. The downside of most ODROID products is a limited set of software choices. You can but eMMc or microSD cards with Linux or Android preinstalled. Hardkernel does offer images if you want to flash your own cards but they tend not to work even if you follow their instructions carefully. The best software option is Dietpi. If you want something a bit more powerful ODROID has a C2 and a xu4 board.
Thermaltake Core X9
The Thermaltake Core X9 is on my list of things to buy for my next PC build. In some of my first builds I was focused on either cool clear cases or slim design. I can say from experience that clear cases are crap for cooling all those high end components because they are made out of poorly thermally conductive plastic. Slim cases are nice but they severely limit the components that can fit inside and the amount of expansion or upgrades that can be done in the future. The core X9 does not suffer from these limitations. It has massive amounts of space, built in brackets for fans and/or liquid cooling radiators on the top and sides. It also has a modular design that allows the case to adapt to your specific needs and can even be expanded by stacking additional cases. While 160$ is fairly expensive for a computer case it is better to spend the money upfront that buying a cheap case and then finding out your heatsink or video card does not fit or that you can’t add an extra hard drive because there is not a bay.
Glow headphones are an interesting concept because of their aesthetic appeal. This kickstarter project aims to produce headphones whose wires glow with laser light. The light can respond to the tempo of the music or reflect your heart rate as measured by the earbuds. While looking cool these earbuds might not be two appealing unless you plan on sitting in a lot of dark rooms. Plus there is the added concern that you might be making a mugger’s job exceptionally easy. One final downside is that the earbuds come in single colors rather than an option to dynamically change color.
For those trying to save money and reduce waste NiMH rechargeable batteries are useful. I like most people use to by batteries and the charger together at an electronics store. It turns out that doing so really limits the performance and lifespan you can get out of a rechargeable battery. I recently switched to a Maha Energy MH-C9000 charger. Unlike chargers in store the MH-C9000 carefully controls and monitors batteries to prevent over charging. It also has programmed cycles to maximize battery capacity and rescue old batteries. The charger is easy to use and worth the extra investment (~50$). If you pair this charger with some Panasonic Eneloops you will be pleasantly surprised. For more detailed information on rechargeable batteries check out this great website.