20 Hot Gadgets And Gizmos For Summer Fun

Hot Fun In The Summertime

When summer rolls around, people split into two camps. Those who toss a few beers in an old plastic cooler and head down to the beach ... and those who toss a few beers into an MP3-playing, UV ray-detecting, ergonomic RoboChill 3000 with GPS locater. If you fall into the latter camp, this presentation is for you -- take a summer stroll with us as we tally up some of the hottest gadgets and gizmos purpose-built just for the hot season, beer coolers included.

Photo courtesy of vendor

Cool Tunes

Told you we’d serve up a cooler first thing. The Picnic Plus Cooladio cooler has a built-in, detachable AM/FM radio, audio input jack for your MP3 or CD player, Digital Music speakers and boasts an 18-can capacity. Sounds like a beach party to us.

Price: $51.45

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Breathe Responsibly

So you’ve had a few frosty ones down at the beach courtesy of your MP3-playing cooler. It’s time to head home. Don’t get in that car just yet, pal. This digital breathalyzer from BacTrack uses BlueFire sensor technology to provide an instant and accurate blood alcohol content measurement. Could mean the difference between a truly enjoyable summer and a DUI.

Price: $79.99

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Step Out Of The Liquid

We’ve all opened a suitcase only to find some liquid has seeped from its container to make a sticky mess all over the shirt we were going to wear that night. The VinniBag uses inflatable air chambers to make sure that doesn’t happen when you’re transporting liquids while also protecting delicate souvenirs.

Price: $29

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Finders, Beepers

Do not leave your luggage unattended! But if you do, make sure you’ve got the handy dandy Easy 2 Pick electronic luggage tag from Naftali. When you step within 90 feet of your bag, this little gizmo will alert you that it’s nearby with a beep.

Price: $25

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No More Fees

Wrapping up our travel gadgets section, Balanzza’s Mini Luggage Scale is small and compact, and it’ll help you avoid those maddening overweight baggage fees on your travels this summer. The scale’s also pretty light at just a couple of ounces -- but wouldn’t it be deliciously ironic if that was the amount your bag was overweight?

Price: $25

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Air Shirt

Who wouldn’t want an unremarkable white polyester-blend short-sleeved shirt that only comes in one size and has USB-charged fans built right in to cool you off? Probably a lot of people. But if you’re one of the folks who actually thinks this is pretty cool, get in touch with a Japanese company called Kuchofuku and they’ll send one of their USB Air Conditioned Shirts right over.

Price: $233

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Protozoa Begone

The SteriPEN Adventurer Opti water purifier emits UV light to safely sterilize clear water by destroying 99.99 percent of protozoa, bacteria and viruses, according the manufacturer. It fits easily into a backpack and purifies up to 16 fluid ounces of water in less than a minute, and you’re getting up to 8,000 uses out of this doohickey.

Price: $99.99

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Pure And Clean

Here’s a more traditional water filter, but the Katadyn Hiker PRO is also pretty good at removing particles, protozoa and bacteria from your drinking water while you’re on the trail. Gets all the little buggers as small as 0.3 microns in size, in fact.

Price: $64.95

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Modern Bread Crumbs

Never get lost on the bike trail again -- or at least know the GPS location of the place you’re lost in -- with the Garmin Edge 500 for cyclists. Attached to your bike’s stem or handlebar, the Edge 500 uses HotFix satellite prediction to calculate your position on the Big Blue Marble. It’s also got some nice added features, like a barometric altimeter to measure changes in elevation and assorted speedometers, calorie counters and such.

Price: $249.99

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Safety First

The Safety Turtle alarm system has a wristband transmitter that you attach to your kid by the pool with a base station located within 200 feet that will alert you when the child’s gone into the drink. Great device for avoiding a truly terrible summer.

Price: $54.95 per wristband/$139.95 for standard base station

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Taping Mask

The Scuba Series HD Wide Angle video mask from Liquid Image captures high-def video and 5-megapixel stills courtesy of its super cool wide-angle lens. Perfect for the crystal clear waters on the tropical island that you can’t afford to visit after ponying up for this sucker.

Price: $350

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One Banana, Tune Banana

The uCan from uBanana is a waterproof MP3 player with 1GB of internal memory that doesn’t require users to plug in wired headphones. Instead, this little number just straps on and you’re ready to hit the pool with a soundtrack. The uCan floats, making it easy to retrieve in the water, and the battery life is an impressive 15 hours.

Price: $154

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The Sun, It Burns!

Firebox.com’s UV Monkey fits on a keychain and lets you know just how strong those skin-damaging ultraviolet rays are when you’re at the beach or by the pool. The UV Monkey’s scale matches the gradations of UV alerts used in official weather forecasts, so it’s pretty easy to get the hang of it.

Price: $6

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96 FM In The Shades

Surprisingly, there are actually a lot of Bluetooth-enabled MP3-playing sunglasses out there, mostly made by Chinese manufacturers. We picked these because they’re relatively inexpensive and you get 2GB of flash memory in the standard edition, with an option to jack that up to 4GB.

Price: $24.15

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We're Fans

Plug this little fan from the folks at USB Geek into your laptop or any USB-equipped device for a bit of a manufactured breeze while your roasting by the pool. The Holywood USB Fan is low-power and doesn’t make much noise, despite its makers lack of spelling prowess.

Price: $9

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Here Comes The Sun

Solio’s solar-powered chargers come in many shapes and sizes. Here, we’re going with the Solio Classic Solar Charger, which will juice up your cell phone, MP3 player, camera etc. on Old Sol’s dime. Interchangeable Power Tips that come with the charger fit most any device socket out there. An hour of sunlight on the charger translates to 40 minutes of music or 15 minutes of cell phone charging.

Price: $99.95

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Coolly Noted

The Notepal U2 notebook cooler from our pals at Cooler Master has dual removable 80mm fans to keep that laptop from overheating on a hot summer’s day. Squeeze notebooks as large as 17 inches into this sturdy unit.

Price: From $26.99

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Ergonomic Cooling

Dual fans juiced via a USB connector provide the cooling with the Lap Chill Mat from Targus, while the open design disperses fan noise and rubber stops on the ergonomically tilted face keep your laptop from slipping as you type away in the summer sun.

Price: From $29

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Easy Reader

Amazon’s Kindle 2 may be overshadowed by the Apple iPad, but one thing this leading e-reader still does is provide easy reading in direct sunlight, courtesy of its 16-level grayscale display. The Kindle 2 has 2GB of internal memory and can hold up to 1,500 non-illustrated books.

Price: $259

Photo by Jon 'ShakataGaNai' Davis

Apple Of Our Eye

What can we say about Apple’s iPad that hasn’t been said? This versatile media tablet has all the capacitive multi-touch goodness of the groundbreaking iPhone, but with a much larger, 9.7-inch screen. It ain’t cheap and the iPad doesn’t do direct sunlight as well as an e-reader, but this device is pure fun. Plus, you will definitely get plenty of attention if you’re poking and pinching around on one by the hotel pool.

Price: Varies

Photo by Kim Kulish