Savoring the Briefcase BBQ

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Even on vacation in the Florida Keys for a wedding this past weekend, I couldn’t escape the siren’s song of technology. My carry-on bag looked a bit like the A/V club had exploded in it: besides the standard issue digital camera, iPod, and laptop, I brought my handy travel wireless router to provide net access for our beach house, not to mention pretty much every cable one could possibly need (except, unfortunately, for the 1/8” minijack-to-1/8” minijack that my rental car wanted).

As if that wasn’t enough, I was pressed into service running playlists from my iPod for the rehearsal dinner and from the bride’s PowerBook during the reception. This, dear readers, is what you get at a wedding full of engineers.

Ensconced once again in the more temperate weather of New England, I bring you this week’s installment of Gadgetbox, featuring a way to keep tabs on your possessions, a closer look at the world around you, and grilling on the go.

Don’t lose your cool or your keys

It takes a special kind of chutzpah to replace parts of your product’s name with a homophonous number. As cool as the concept behind the Loc8tor is, I’m afraid that their moniker of choice starts them at a disadvantage.

Anyway. If you’re anything like me, or the other six billion inhabitants of this problem, you’ve probably at some point mislaid a crucial item, such as your keys, wallet, or small child. The Loc8tor intends to obviate the panic these situations induce: simply attach one of the Loc8tor’s four tags, slightly larger than an earbud, to your frequently lost items. Then, instead of frantically rifling through your papers, just flip open the cell phone-sized handheld unit and select the item you’re looking for, and the Loc8tor will guide you, with auditory and visual cues, to your destination. You can also put the tags in alarm mode, which will alert you if they move a certain distance away from the locator unit.

I got to play with the Loc8tor a bit this past week and I’ve got mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, it’s a handy little device and it pretty much works as advertised. The device’s interface is simple and straightforward for the most part, and finding the tags is a snap. The package also includes key ring loops and adhesive pads which you can use to attach the tags to things. But I found the tags a bit large for some purposes: they fit fine on a keychain, for example, but they seem a little bulky to attach to a phone or iPod. And I found myself asking what happens when one inevitably loses the locator device; it’s not as if you can slap a tag on that . Not to mention that most people probably won’t want to carry around yet another little gray box.

The Loc8tor isn’t the only device of this kind. As I was writing up this piece, I came across the SmartFinder, which is similar, though it lacks the Loc8tor’s visual cues and instead relies on beeping alarms. That said, it’s also a lot cheaper than the Loc8tor, running a mere $50, as compared to the Loc8tor’s $100 pricetag ($170 for the plus package, which includes two more tags).

Either way, while it may be antithetical to Gadgetbox’s stated mission—bringing homestyle fried chicken to the masses since 1928—to propose such a low-tech solution, may I humbly suggest, as an alternative, that you simply keep better track of your things?

It’s too big to be a space station

I wasn’t the world’s best science student, but I always preferred the classes that gave us access to scientific equipment like test tubes, thermometers, and microscopes. The latter, especially, with their ability to make the invisible visible were of particular fascination to my younger self.

Since leaving school, however, my interest in microscopic explorations has waned somewhat. But all that was really needed was a hook—something to grab the gadgeteer in me. Like, say, a USB port.

Bingo .

The USB Digital Microscope will cost you $180 from ThinkGeek, but the joy that it brings you as you blow up tiny details of the everyday objects around you may well be worth that amount. The microscope features a 640x480 resolution, and 20x, 50x, and 100x magnification: perfect for checking out just how many angels are dancing on the head of that pin. It can also capture video at up to 30fps, with the option of a time-lapse mode.

Plus, you can probably use it as a webcam; that’d definitely liven up those work video conferences. [via Popgadget ]

Briefcase barbecue makes grilled chicken to go

Sometimes you just need barbecue. Maybe you’re in the movie theater or waiting for the bus and the sweet smell of hickory smoking wafts to your nostrils. Sure, you could wait until you got home, but what if you don’t make it that long?

If you’re arrying the Briefcase BBQ, you’ll never have this problem ever again. This little portable cooker folds up into a—you guessed it—briefcase-sized package, complete with its own carrying handle and case. When unfolded, you get an 18.9”x13.8” cooking area that’ll let you rustle up a couple of burgers, to the amazement and certain delight of everybody else on your transatlantic flight (hey, even air marshals can’t resist a burger!).

Best of all, the Briefcase BBQ costs only about $50. If you care to opt for the slightly cheaper and smaller Fold Flat BBQ (with its 17.7”x11.8” cooking area), you can snag that for just $40. Either way, you’re sure to be the envy of hungry travelers everywhere. [via TechEBlog ]

Darn it, now I’ve got myself craving barbecue. The casualties of culinary technology, I suppose. We’ll see you back here next week for more mouth-watering gizmos.

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