Phoning it in

It’s amazing how ingrained gadgetry has become in all of our lives. Just today, I happened to glance inside of a police cruiser to see that not only was there the usual laptop mounted in the front, but also an iPod jacked into the car’s stereo. I didn’t manage to find out whether or not “Bad Boys” was on the playlist; there’s only so much you can see from the back seat. Er. Never mind.

Today we have for a delightful trio of treats for you, gadget fans: the cheapest 3D printer to hit the market, a phone for heavy breathers, and the fastest way to enjoy the greatest beverage ever invented that wasn’t whiskey.

Next stop, replicators

All too often, people complain that their gadgets become obsolete before they even get them out of the box. But the speed of technological development is a double-edged sword; it also means that technology once only available to those who partake of gold fondue will eventually reach the unwashed masses.

Take, for example, rapid prototyping (colloquially known as “3D printing”). Once squarely in the realm of Star Trek , 3D printing is getting closer and closer to reaching the likes of me and you (okay, maybe not you ). Desktop Factory is prepping a 3D printer that’s expected to cost between $5000 to $7000. That might seem pricey, but it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than previous systems ( one source from 2002 suggested that a rapid prototyping system under $75,000 was “cheap”). Five years from now , I’m sure there’ll be one in every pot. Home. Whatever.

Desktop Factory’s printer uses a halogen light and a drum-printing system to build prototypes from plastic dust (the “ink” of rapid prototyping), which they claim can be had for as little as $0.50 per cubic inch ( another source said that material under $14.00 per cubic inch was low-cost).

Such sizable drops in cost could lead to rapid prototyping being much more accessible to small companies, learning institutions, and perhaps even the odd home user (c’mon, you know you’d love to build your own little Happy Meal toys). Can replicators be far behind? [via Shiny Shiny ]

Vader phone finds your lack of faith disturbing

Over the past couple years, the traditional landline phone has been losing ground to increasingly popular mobile phones, but if there’s one thing that’s going to reassert the landline’s rightful place in the scheme of telecommunications, it is surely the Darth Vader phone.

Not that I need to spell out the reasons why the Force is strong with this phone, but check this: when the phone rings, the Imperial March plays and Vader turns his head . Tell me that’s not a crowd-pleaser. The three switches on the base let you trigger sound effects: choose from the Imperial March, the sound of a lightsaber playing, and Vader’s distinctive wheezing manly breathing. Oh, and it’s got redial.

At a mere $36, it’s way way cheaper than most of those pitiful, whiny Jedi handsets you can buy through your cellphone provider. Oh, and did we mention it looks like Darth Vader ? [via Ubergizmo ]

That chocolate milk ain’t gonna stir itself

Sometimes, when I’ve spent a hard day clacking away on my keyboard, producing the kind of incisive, witty gems that you’re reading at this very moment, I like to reward myself with a glass of chocolate milk. That’s right, chocolate milk. Don’t judge me .

But there are days when I just don’t have the patience to stir thoroughly, you know? For just such an occasion, Idea Kitchen has concocted the Moo Mixer. This battery-operated gizmo stirs your chocolate milk for you; just hit a button on the cleverly cow-patterned handle, and it mixes the chocolate syrup and milk at the optimal speed recommended by scientists and chocolate milk fans worldwide .

At $11.95, the Moo Mixer might seem a little pricey to those used to doing their own stirring, and that’s true, but after you’ve encountered one too many stirring-related injuries, as I have, you’ll be more than glad that you’ve got a little mechanized gadget to do it for you. And should you want something a little more grown-up, the larger model for milkshakes will set you back just $33. [via SCI FI Tech ]

Say, it looks like it’s chocolate-milk-o’clock already. How the time does fly. We’ll see you back here next Wednesday for more from the box o’ gadgets.

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