Top 10 Coolest Gadgets on Ebay for under $10

December 20, 2008

Earlier this year I set myself a mini project – find ten cool gadgets for under $10* on Ebay. I tried to keep postage included in the cost but allowed a couple of items to sneak over, simply because I had saved money on a few others.

The good news is that I found ten kind of cool gadgets. Instead of posting to this blog I’ve waited a few months to see if any of these were any good- ie whether I actually used them or if any of them broke.

Here is the top 10, starting with the worst. Number one is a cracker – in fact it was so good that someone stole it :(((

* ($10 Aussie = $6.80 USD | £4.50 UK | €4.90 Euros )

THE TOP 10:

10: USB Vacuum cleaner (find them here on ebay)

image 
Average price: AU$8.00 including postage
Gadget Wow Factor: 6/10
Quality: 1/10
Real world usefulness: 3/10

This would have been a zero except for the fact that it has an LED light on it which came in handy a couple of times when I was trying to peer into dark places inside the computer. This thing has no suction. Whilst I really liked the idea because computers and keyboards attract dust like a flies to a poop, this USB vacuum is absolutely crap.
____________________________________________________

9. Weather Station (find on ebay

image 
Average price: AU$7.00 +$5 postage
Gadget Wow Factor: 2/10
Quality: 6/10
Real world usefulness: 4/10

It does what it says, temperature, time, date, humidity blah blah blah. But it’s pretty boring really. It was also slightly over $10 with postage.
___________________________________________________

8. Voice disguise for mobile phone (find here)

image 
Average price: AU$10.00 +$2 postage
Gadget Wow Factor: 6/10
Quality: 5/10
Real world usefulness: 2/10

Total gimmick, that’s about it. I have very little need to disguise my voice or sound like a female. Given that my mobile phone sends the number to callers anyway, it’s not like I can get away with anything anyway!____________________________________________________

7. Laptop (or child) Theft Detector
(find here)

image 
Average price: AU$10.00 +$5 postage
Gadget Wow Factor: 8/10
Quality: 3/10
Real world usefulness: 2/10

I was actually excited about ordering this. I have a couple of small kids who always run off so the idea of a proximity alarm going off if the two things get separated by more than 30ft is kind of cool.

Here’s the problem. It goes off randomly on occasion. The transmitter batteries don’t last very long. You have to constantly turn both ends on and off. I like the idea – but again this gadget fails to deliver as I’d like.
____________________________________________________

6. Tiny Wireless Mouse  (find here)

image 
Average price: AU$6.00 +$5 postage
Gadget Wow Factor: 4/10
Quality: 2/10
Real world usefulness: 9/10

This thing “was” great. The usb adapter slots away really well. I was using this a lot. But then it broke after 3 months. Maybe I was just unlucky? Shame.
___________________________________________________

5. Worlds Smallest Universal Remote Control (find here)

image 
Average price: AU$7.00 including postage
Gadget Wow Factor: 6/10
Quality: 7/10
Real world usefulness: 6/10

I think this would be useful for some people. It’s small enough to go on your keychain. The only real downside is configuring it. It’s a pain in the neck. Always fun for hanging out the local TV shop and turning their TVs on and off!

__________________________________________________

4. Roll-up Flexible Waterproof Keyboard (find here)

image

Best price: AU$6.00 including postage
Gadget Wow Factor: 6/10
Quality: 6/10
Real world usefulness: 6/10

Six bucks (including postage) is a bargain. That’s a big reason it made number four. I actually found it useful a few times when the kids were playing on the computer. No fear of them spelling some sticky gloop on it. Ok they keys are not fantastic, but you can feel a press easily enough, plus it’s very lightweight. It’s also a handy
spare if something goes wrong with your main keyboard.
_________________________________________________

3. Alcohol Breath Tester (find here)

image 
Best price: AU$7.00 including postage
Gadget Wow Factor: 8/10
Quality: 6/10
Real world usefulness: 6/10

I believe the best policy is not to drink anything at all (if you’re planning to drive) but of course you do find yourself in situations where you might want to test the person who’s about to drive you to see if they are safe! We found this device kind of fun when we were staying at home after a couple of beers – just testing each other to see who was over. How accurate is it? Well the detector is primitive (green yellow or red) so it seems pretty basic, but three beers in an hour and it went straight to RED every time. My advice, it’s a novelty not a tool – but still worth $7 bucks. Yes, it even has a an LED light on it.
________________________________________________

2. LED Laser Torch (here on ebay) or (here)

image 
Ave price: AU$9.99 +$5 postage
Gadget Wow Factor: 7/10
Quality: 9/10
Real world usefulness: 9/10

OK – I used this so much that I lost it. The one above isn’t quite the same but I did manage to get something very similar for under $10 including delivery off Ebay. The batteries last for ages, there are multiple settings and the laser is, well a good toy for making cats and dogs chase around the little red dot. A bargain gadget.
__________________________________________________

1. Electric Shock Laser Key Ring (here) or (here ebay)

image 
Ave price: AU$6.00 including postage
Gadget Wow Factor: 8/10
Quality: 9/10
Real world usefulness: 9/10

The winner! We had so much fun with this that is, until someone stole it. Basically if you press the wrong button, instead of getting the laser you get a pretty huge electric shock. So provided you’re not playing this prank on someone with a pacemaker, this thing is a hoot for $6 incl postage. They don’t always show up on Ebay so I included another link above.

________________________________________________

Got any ideas or great finds for Gadgets under $10 – let me know:
www.twitter.com/eunmac or leave a comment below. 🙂


PC Keyboards – What you type is NOT safe anymore.

October 23, 2008

Swiss researchers Martin Vuagnoux and Sylvain Pasini have been able to decode what is being typed on a wired keyboard from a distance of 20 metres by detecting the electromagnetic signals made by key presses. It even worked through walls.

image

http://lasecwww.epfl.ch/keyboard/

This represents a major new problem should the process shown be abused by less law abiding citizens. Identity theft, login/passwords, sensitive information could all be extracted using this eavesdropping method. Whilst theoretically the signals could be masked in future keyboards (now the problem has been identified) it does mean that many existing computers worldwide have a potential security issue that cannot be rectified using software or network security changes. A wireless keyboard appears to be a safer alternative at this stage although a report by Markus Kuhn and Ross Anderson (here) suggest wider scale issues.

Whilst these are early tests the researchers conclude that “wired computer keyboards are not safe to transmit sensitive information” and that their experiments could be improved easily.

image
If you see a person acting strangely outside your house carrying one of these, DO NOT access your Internet banking! 🙂

Video:
http://vimeo.com/2008343