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Your USB port can power up fun gadgets

Self-solving Rubik's Cube

Where was this back in 1985 when we really needed it? Oh, that's right — nobody had USB ports back then. Plug in this retro beauty, flip a switch and it will automatically scramble the sides. Give up trying to solve it? Flip another switch and it solves itself before your very eyes! Like totally awesome!

Find it at:

Cost: We had you going on this one, didn't we?

USB ports are wonderful things. That tiny little slot on the side of your computer can be a lifesaver. You can plug a mouse into it. Maybe a webcam. A tiny little disc drive. Oh, and a rocket launcher, holiday ornaments, refrigerator and even a microwave oven — someday. On the pages of some stale technical manual, USB might stand for Universal Serial Bus. Borrrrrr-ING. On the Internet, it ought to stand for "U Seriously Better buy this for me as a birthday gift." Here are just some of the totally impractical (i.e., fun) devices we've found on the Web that are powered by a USB port. And pay close attention: One of the devices below is purely fictional. — Compiled by Sherry Robinson and Steve Spears, Times Staff Writers


Attention lazy office workers: You may soon have no excuse for missing a hot lunch. Meet the Beanzawave, a new portable microwave oven just 7 inches tall and 6 inches wide. Wow, just the perfect size for an individual serving of baked beans, because what's lunch at your desk without those tasty fibery nuggets of joy drenched in BBQ sauce? Beanzawave is still in the prototype stage, so you'll have to keep bringing your PB&J in a paper bag for now.

Find it at: Just a prototype for now from baked-bean giant Heinz. Sorry.

Cost: Estimated at $160

The fridge

You know the worst thing about being a pop culture expert (okay, "nerd") is that we can't keep our cans of Jolt Cola cold enough while we surf the Web until 4 each morning. Problem solved with this contraption ominously just called USB Fridge. The manufacturer boasts that the cold plate inside — big enough to hold a standard 12-ounce can — chills to the perfect temperature in just seconds. Perfect. Just enough time for us to download another episode of Futurama.

Find it at:

Cost: $30


The winter holidays would be so much more fun if instead of cute and cuddly Frosty the Snowman, we could all sing carols about SnowBot, the menacing robotic snowman with a glowing red eye and pulsing sound that reminds us of Cylons on Battlestar Galactica. But don't let its Christmas theme ruin the fun; use it to annoy people around you year-round!

Find it at:

Cost: $14.99

Retro MP3 speaker amp

Don't you wish you had your own guitar to hook up to this speaker? No matter — put your favorite head-banger anthems on your iPod and play your air axe. This little amp runs on three AA batteries or a USB cable that connects to your computer. You're probably thinking why would I get this — I can just hook my MP3 to my computer. Dude, get it because it's cool!

Find it at:

Cost: $24.99

Webcam/rocket launcher

It's a Webcam. It's a rocket launcher. It's two fun toys in one! This little gadget allows you to aim and fire at targets using the built-in webcam. An added bonus is that you can take control of a buddy's missile launcher and fire off a round at him. And there are sound effects from your computer when you launch a friend's missiles. Make sure to buy the replacement missiles because you know you're going to lose some.

Find it at:

Cost: $49 for launcher; $4.99 for extra missiles


We geeks spend a little too much time on the computer. So owning real fish might not be a good idea. That's why the little Nemo and Dory look-alikes in this tank are better — you never have to feed them, change the water or give them a burial at sea. And think of the stress relief these little swimmers will provide as they gently swish back and forth. Ahh, bliss.

Find it at:

Cost: $24.99

Your USB port can power up fun gadgets 06/13/09 [Last modified: Saturday, June 13, 2009 4:31am]
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