The Boston-based designer toy studio Mimoco (mimoco.com and starwarsshop.com) has just released the cutest little USB flash drives you are likely to find. They are a line of inch-long "Star Wars" toys with lots of artful details (Chewbacca's belt, Artoo's input panels, and so on), which hold up to 4 gigabytes in their bellies.
Each limited edition "Mimobot" comes in a clear, cylindrical retail container, making it worthy of a place in your collection beside your Luke and Leia action figures.
Mimoco also sells Mimobots with hipster looks: Ramona has horn-rimmed glasses and a red blouse with white polka dots. Ramona, Betty-Lou, and the cigarette smoking Link have the rockabilly looks you may still spot on some folks in Austin, Texas.
The price for a single Mimobot ranges from $70 to $150, depending on the device's capacity (1, 2, and 4 gigabyte versions are available.)
Darth Vader, Chewbacca, Storm Trooper, and R2-D2 are for sale. And many more characters are in the pipeline, according to Mimoco. Chewie is my favorite. Having his face on a USB flash drive should help me to form an attachment to my data, thus making it a bit harder to lose.
Getting the cap off a Mimobot takes a little wriggling at first. So be careful not to snap off the USB contacts while you are at it. A small light on the flash drive lets you know when the drive has successfully been mounted on your PC or Mac.
Laptop for kids is loud and obnoxious
Before I had kids, I didn't appreciate the problem with e-learning toys that blast alphabet songs out of their tiny speakers, and "talking books," which read to your little ones while you sit dumbly beside them. Now I get it: All of these toys appear to have had their volume levels set inside incredibly loud Chinese factories.
All but the lowest of the sound levels on the Spider-Smart Learning Laptop are ear-piercing. (There are three fixed levels.) The toy ($40 at kiddirect.com), features imagery and sound bites from "Spider-Man 3," dozens of language games, and word and letter matching.
My 4-year-old daughter, Maeve, enjoyed hunting and pecking for letters on the keyboard. The letters appear first on a tiny, gray display screen. When you press the correct key, the toy rewards you with a recorded "Awesome," "Great," or "Cool."
I don't recommend the Spider-Smart for your kid. But if you keep this sealed in its factory box, perhaps it will be worth something at a Creation Convention in 2025.
Inexpensive retro/cool alarm clock delivers great stereo sound
My wife, Lisa, is a firm believer that there is no good way to wake up in the morning.
But she is somewhat smitten with the retro good looks of the Accurian iPod Alarm Clock, which I saw on sale last week at Radio Shack (radioshack.com) for only $30.
The clock, functionally speaking, is little more than a charging station with a pair of speakers, and a volume control knob on the back. It supports most iPod models, including the Nano. You set the alarm on the iPod, not the "clock," so there is nothing new for you to learn.
I had trouble getting the clock to recognize my 30GB Video iPod. Making that happen was an annoying, multistep process.
(Why do so many danged iPod accessories not work straight out of the box?)
But once I got the alarm clock working, boy how it sang. Where the two "Mickey Mouse ear" bells would be on top of a classic, wind-up clock, the Accurian has stereo speakers that filled our bedroom with some awesome "van rock" by Fu Manchu.
My wife especially appreciated the snooze button on top of the alarm clock.
Innovative last week
N.H. mom's headphones limit the decibels
If your high school graduate is bucking for an iPod, but you want to preserve his hearing through the summer, try swapping in a pair of iHearSafe Earbuds (about $25 at ingemicorp.com) for those that come standard with the music player. Developed by Christine Ingemi, a mother of four iPod listeners in Amherst, N.H., the iHearSafe Earbuds automatically limit the sound from media player devices such as the iPod to 80 decibels. Ingemi said she is working on "sport style" headphones, and earbuds with ear clips, which will be available this summer. And she hopes to have wireless iHearSafe headphones available in time for Christmas.