Stories by Author

Do you have a special somebody in your life who has watched one too many Bond movies? Someone who's always looking over his or her shoulder, suspicious of being tailed? Someone who won't talk to you over an unsecured line? The signs are there: Your friend's a real paranoid. While this might indicate a deeper underlying problem, you probably don't want to spend the holidays staging an intervention, so short of that, you can do the next best thing: indulge it. Conveniently for you, we've rounded up a number of great gifts for the aspiring spy from covert recording devices to a lie detector test that will shock the truth out of suspects. All of these will prove practical for your friend's next mission.
Sure, spies have charm, cat-like reflexes and an uncanny ability to seduce anything that walks, but without their gadgets, they'd have a tougher time getting out of sticky situations. While the International Spy Museum in Washington D.C. doesn't sell the infallible Cone of Silence (my favorite spy gadget of all time), it does have a nifty pen camcorder to help you get started on your next mission, should you accept it. Embedded within this $75 ballpoint pen, the MP9, is a tiny camera that can capture more than two hours of footage on 4GB of storage (up to 80 minutes on a full charge). The pen untwists into two halves: the bottom part for writing (yes, it works as an actual pen) and the top half for recording. After you're done capturing all the details of an evil mastermind's plan for irradiating America's gold supply — or something to that nature — you plug the pen into a USB port to transfer the incriminating evidence onto your computer. Novel as this might be, how does it perform in real life? We find out.
In the year we've waited anxiously for Jawbone to re-release its fitness tracker, the company has been hard at work trying to perfect every last detail. While Up was certainly a trailblazer when it first debuted and is still a perfectly respectable health monitor now, it's a year late to the game, and the health tracking market has gotten a lot more crowded since. Within that year, Jawbone had gone through 200 hardware designs, 16,000 man hours, 46 weeks of user trials, 2.9 million hours of real-world user testing, 13 billion steps and more to improve upon the flaws that had rendered some units useless the last time around. Here's our review.
Back in the old days, if you wanted to take your music to go, you shouldered a giant boombox and went. But kids today are spoiled and have a bevy of pint-sized options at their disposal. Whether they're picnicking in the park, laying out at the beach or hanging out with friends, they can easily pull out a compact Bluetooth speaker from their bag to belt out their favorite tunes. Since Jawbone introduced the Jambox in 2010, we've seen an explosion in the portable speaker market, with more options for mobile music than ever before. To help you wade through the choices, we're going hand-on with six Bluetooth speakers.
If you toss and turn at night, a host of gadgets are eager to help you get some quality shut eye. As with health-tracking technology, it's ultimately up to you to be proactive and fix the issues that keep you up. Sleep monitors collect a wealth of information when you snooze — brain waves, motion, heartbeat, breathing, etc. — and ideally provide an online component that compiles this data into beautiful charts to help you understand your habits over time. While informative, sleep analytics can't tell the whole story. Instead, it's up to the sleeper to fill in the gaps. To fully take advantage of these technologies, it's recommended that you log additional information in sleep journals (often provided by apps or Web dashboards), noting how you felt upon waking and chronicling factors that might have contributed to poor sleep, such as alcohol, coffee, temperature, bright lights, big meals, etc. This can help you see correlations between lifestyle/environment and body. Of course, not all sleep gadgets were made equal. Let's take a look at nine popular ones on the market and what they offer.
Is it any surprise that sci-fi nerds love Lego? If they aren't going out on hot dates, they might as well spend their Friday nights recreating props, locations and scenes from the science fiction world using toy bricks. Kidding! These creations are enormously impressive, demonstrating superb engineering and creativity. With Danish toymaker Lego celebrating its 80th birthday this year, we figured we'd commemorate the occasion by highlighting fan creations. Given it's us, we decided to showcase ones with a sci-fi bent. Last week, we took a look at 11 colossal Lego starships. Now, here are 32 fan-built Lego tributes to science fiction, both famous and obscure.