By Grant McKenzie
The best thing about being a geek in this gadget-obsessed age is that the definition of cool has changed. The Fonz has been replaced by Doctor Who and clever entrepreneurs have found a way to make even vacuum cleaners lust worthy.
Now, nerds and geeks have been interested in knives for as long as Baden-Powell wore short pants, and today isn’t any different. Victorinox has long been one of my favourite knife companies as I rarely go anywhere without a Swiss Army knife in my pocket in case of emergency: such as missing can openers, corkscrews or something to slice the smoked salmon.
My latest pocket tool is the Victorinox Tomo ($25; swissarmy.com/ca) that includes a small blade, nail file and scissors in a thin, modern rectangular jacket designed by Kazuma Yamaguchi. This knife (available in a variety of colours) is a perfect addition to a key chain, although I would have loved for them to squeeze in the cool little pen or light from their SwissCard collection.
My other favourite knife is Cardsharp ($25 US; iainsinclair.com) that folds flat into the size of a credit card. Despite its coolness factor, this superlight and supersharp utility knife definitely isn’t a toy. The stainless steel, surgical blade is sheathed in a hinged polypropylene body that unfolds to form the handle. It fits in your wallet and is always at hand. The third knife I’ve been impressed by is made from zirconium oxide, or black ceramic, that is the hardest material second only to diamond. For my first experience with this material, I tried the 5″ utility and 3.5″ paring knife ($50 US set; zxkitchen.com) and have been impressed so far. The edge of the knife isn’t so thin that it will cut flesh at the slightest contact, but requires just a touch of pressure to make wafer-thin slices out of a tomato. I’m told the colour means it doesn’t stain like white ceramic and the blades won’t require sharpening for up to five years.
From knives to spying on the neighbours . . . or, err, watching the sailboats from Dallas Road. Bushnell wanted me to take a look at their new focus-free series of binoculars. Although doubtful before they arrived, the Spectator 10×50 ($118 US; bushnell.com) quickly became my go-to glasses for everything from sailboats on the Straight to hockey games and concerts. They are lightweight, comfortable and wonderfully fiddle free.
And speaking of hassle free, Logitech has released a new Wireless Headset ($79.99; logitech.com) that is both lightweight and incredibly easy to link with your iPad or iPhone using Bluetooth. I simply switched it on, activated Bluetooth on my iPad and I was up and running. With a built-in, six-hour rechargeable battery, comfortable earpads and the clear sound that I’ve come to expect from Logitech – this is a great addition to your mobile arsenal. In addition, it also has a built-in mic for FaceTime or Skype chats.
I’ve mentioned before how much I enjoy wearing my iPod Nano as a watch. I know that some of the straps out there can have a bit of a toy-like feel, but for the geek who wants class, you need to check out the new LunaTik Lynk ($140 US; lunatik.com). Made with the same aerospace grade aluminum frame as the original LunaTik, the Lynk upgrades the band to anodized aluminum links (in silver or black) with a silicone underbelly and full butterfly clasp. Best of all, if you already own an original LunaTik (in say red) you can replace its strap with the Lynk’s for a cool colour combination. Lightweight, comfortable and definitely classy.
Of course, when you’re showing off your new watch and someone asks you to show them on the web where you got it, you can’t be caught with a slow computer. For fast boot times and sleeker performance, I’ve been bowled over by the latest upgrade kit from Crucial that puts a solid-state drive in your laptop. With screwdriver in hand and my old MacBook Pro on the table, I easily replaced its 2005 tech with Crucial’s 512GB 2.5″ SSD kit ($700 US; crucial.com). The speed difference is remarkable as Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 now launches in around three seconds. The old aluminum devil is so frisky these days, I’m wondering if Crucial slipped in a little electronic Viagra.
Finally, as any experienced geek knows, a man-or-woman cave can be essential to inspiring creativity. To that end, I’ve been contemplating just how to convert the spare room (my wife calls it ‘guest room’ but I think she just might be confused) into my own bat cave. I have the comfortable chair and the book shelves, but that big blank wall is just screaming out for something, well, special. Epson decided to tempt me with its interesting Megaplex MG-850HD Projector ($819 Cdn; epson.ca) that can fill the wall with a dazzling picture. With 720p HD resolution, built-in speakers and an Apple dock for your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad, the Megaplex certainly makes for a great take-anywhere projector. In seconds, you can have a movie or slideshow being projected at 100-inches from your iPhone by simply plugging it into the dock. And the sound from the speakers, usually a weak point, is just fine for casual movie watching. I can definitely see this as a perfect solution for schools, business presentations and weekend movie watching.
However, as a home-based projector, you don’t really need the dock. You would actually be better to pick up an Apple TV ($109 Cdn; apple.ca) and stream your content wirelessly via that device (plus you can use the undocked iPhone or iPod as your controller for games). I haven’t had a chance to try the latest Apple TV model, but at the same price as the 2nd generation, yet delivering 1080p content, you know it’s going to be well worth it.
So although the Megaplex delivers a crisp and bright picture that looks fantastic when paired with an XBox and Apple TV, I would want to look around to see if Epson has a 1080p model without the dock for a comparable price. M