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Better Living Through Technology: 10 Mold-Breaking Gadgets

What would life be like without your mobile phone, without the internet, and without a DVR? It’s a terrifying thought, but it begs the question of what other technology is out there that hasn’t yet hit critical mass. These 10 gadgets may not be new to the world, but many may be new to you– 10 items that break the mold and can provide a path to better living. Join us as we celebrate Better Living Through Technology with these 10 very exciting gadgets.

Kick Big Energy Bills to the Curb

It’s the Information Age. Do you know how much you’ve spent on your home’s electricity today? Amongst all the advancements humanity has seen in recent years, we’re still operating blind on home energy costs. If you want to snap out from paying blind to Big Electric, arm yourself with information. In the UK, consumers can use the Wattson Home Energy Monitor to keep track of their usage and stop the bleeding from costly electrical waste. In the US, systems like Microsoft Hohm promise similar functionality to the UK’s Wattson. As our childhood homeboy GI Joe used to say, knowledge is half the battle. As tech users, keeping your home environmentally sound might just be the other half.

Wattson Home Energy Monitor Gallery

Your First DSLR: the Nikon D3100

If you’ve been using a point-and-click camera all your life, there has never been a better time to try your first upgrade. Cost, power and ease of use are the three primary points of focus for camera buyers, and the rule of these thirds convene on the Nikon D3100 DSLR. If you’ve never used a DSLR before, don’t be intimidated. You can pick up the D3100, aim and shoot to create beautiful images that’ll put your handicam to bed for good. What makes the Nikon D3100 so special? It features a comprehensive tutorial mode that can make your nephew a pro in minutes, but the best feature is its 1080p HD video capabilities. The Nikon D3100 is the first ever DSLR to provide full auto-focus capability on 1080p video recording. It is at once the best video camera you can find in this price range and it’s the best introductory DSLR available on the market. The alternative is to capture your own personal history on a cheap click camera that will do your memories no justice…

Nikon D3100 Gallery

Drive No More: Electric Assist Cycling

Say you’re just a few miles away from a comfortable daily commute to work. You can leave your car at home and skip public transportation thanks to a new revolution in hybrid electric bike technology. Pedal-assist bikes use an electric motor and battery to provide extra strength to a leisurely bike ride or a daily commute. The UltraMotor A2B Velocity Hybrid Bike, for example, uses a rear-mounted battery and a hub-mounted motor to assist your pedaling with electric power. If you aren’t in the mood to pedal, you can ride calorie free for 20 miles per charge at up to 20 miles per hour. If you’re willing to do some pedaling, that range and top speed both extend even higher. This is just one example of a wide range of new electric-assist bicycles, a revolution in personal transit that could one day overtake the automobile in American cities. Hey, at least we can hope…

UltraMotor A2B Hybrid Bike Gallery

Google Your Television

Since the advent of large bandwidth internet, TV no longer watches you on its schedule, you watch your chosen content on demand. If you’re like us, that amount of sheer content has gotten rather out of control. From TV shows to home videos, youtube channels to Netflix, managing your favorite content has become a chore more than a privilege. Google rolled out Google TV last year to help sort out the good stuff, using smart indexing, easy search and access to a wide variety of sources. You can even use your Android phone as your remote. Logitech was the first to release a Google TV device, namely the Logitech Revue with Google. We love this tech so much that we asked our sponsors at Hyundai to get involved in this very article by giving away a free Logitech Revue to TheCoolist readers. They called our bluff, too… more at the end of this #snapout article.

Google TV Gallery

Library In Your Hand: the Amazon Kindle

Like several other items on this list, the Amazon Kindle is barely a new or ground-breaking technology. It’s been around for a while, but it’s on this list because it’s still far from hitting critical mass. As Kindle owners here on TheCoolist, we’re pretty amazed this device hasn’t found a wider reaching appeal. We understand the allure of the iPad and other tablet devices, but having your own dedicated book is something humans have celebrated since Gutenberg. With the Kindle, you have a device that can last a month on a single charge and has access to 2.6 million books at the push of a button. If you want to rediscover reading again, to enjoy your old favorites or discover new ones, the Kindle can help you snap out of your literary rut.

Amazon Kindle Gallery

Value Behind the Novelty: iRobot Rooma

How many times have you vacuumed your home since the Roomba was first released? The iRobot Rooma was a novelty upon its inception, but it has been refined into a serious device that’ll save you many hours over its lifetime. Toss it in your living room, go and do whatever you’d like with your free time, and return to a finely tuned carpet. Seriously, we were firmly in the “this is crazy” group when the Roomba first hit, but then we tried one… It’s quite possible that if you don’t have a Roomba, you were vacuuming while we typed this. (check out the work of the IB Roomba crew below, a group of artists who design vivid light sculptures with little more than an active stable of Roomba robots)

iRobot Rooma Gallery

Traveling Tool Box: the Leatherman Skeletool

If the Leatherman Skeletool were around in the 80s, there would have been no need for MacGyver. The Leatherman Skeletool is a skeleton key, an all-purpose pocket tool capable of righting many wrongs and diffusing many personal disasters. You could lug around a tool chest wherever you go, but the Skeletool packs a tool chest in your pocket. The Leatherman Skeletool makes you a handy man (or woman) pretty much wherever you go, and you never know when you’ll need to #snapout.

Leatherman Skeletool Gallery

Personal Power, Off Grid with Joos Orange

If you took the time to total the annual electrical costs of your personal gadgets, the amount would be staggering. Since most of your gadgets go with you when you leave your home, you can use a common outdoor element to charge your gear on the go. It took a while for producers to figure out how to get a lot of solar charging power out of a portable unit, but the Joos Orange solar chargers may be the best yet. These small, portable systems boast 20 times more solar charging power than other units, thanks to efficient photovoltaics and an optional mirror pack. One hour in direct sunlight gets you two hours of 3G talk time on your mobile phone, enough to prevent you from ever charging from your wall socket on a sunny day. Arm yourself with one of these, and you can give the finger to the electrical grid, at least in small doses.

Joos Orange Gallery

Driving Smart: Kiwi MPG Meter

If you haven’t caught on yet, there’s a common theme in this article about breaking the mold: efficient, environmentally-sound living. Doing your part to help out with global health pays dividends in your wallet, because energy awareness can save a whole lot of money. You can do it in your home, but you can do it in your car as well. The PLX Kiwi MPG Meter is one example, a system that monitors your fuel usage and provides an MPG readout in addition to other useful information. We’ve owned a PLX Kiwi for many years, and it has helped us find pockets of efficiency in our vehicle while driving. 62 mph on a freeway with 65 mph speed limits has netted us nearly 50 miles per gallon on some trips, information we wouldn’t have known without one. It paid for itself very quickly, and the savings since have been fruitful. (if you’re an iPhone/iPad/Android user, PLX offers a bluetooth system and a range of apps to monitor not only your fuel efficiency, but a range of other information about your car)

Kiwi MPG Meter Gallery

Hey, Fun Can’t Hurt in 3D: the Nintendo 3DS

Hey, a little fun can’t hurt, can it? The Nintendo 3DS will be released on March 27th, 2011, the first mobile 3D gaming system in history. You can leave those annoying 3D glasses at the movie theater, because the Nintendo 3DS uses a glasses-free system to provide real 3D depth-of-field. With much respect to the Xbox Kinect and the Playstation Move, the 3DS could be the greatest revolution in gaming since… the Nintendo Wii. Zelda, Starfox, Kid Icarus and others will join the Nintendo 3DS upon its release, a date we’ve got marked on our nerd calendar. It’s going to be very difficult to be bored with one of these in our hands.

Nintendo 3DS Gallery

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Thanks for reading, and hopefully you’ve taken on some ideas to snap out of your own personal routine.