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gadgets

Gift Guides

Gift Lab: Wrinkle-Free Clothes to Go

August 10, 2016

Keisha_giftlab

Product:

Collar Perfect Compact Travel and Touch-up Iron

Research:

I tend to do a lot of long weekend getaways throughout the year. But firstly before I go any further let me just state that I HATE ironing and tend to mostly pack clothes that don’t require any ironing. However, since I have not yet mastered the art of packing by rolling my clothes up some things still end up getting wrinkled while en route to my destination.

Additionally – I am a bit of a germaphobe, so the idea of using random irons in hotels and/or rented homes/condos for the weekend does not appeal to me AT ALL! I’ve been the victim a number of times to burnt blouses and the ever-so-hated stained clothes as a result of the rusty water coming out of the provided irons.

After watching the video on our product page for this compact iron I was eager to try it out since it can be used for much more than just the collar. The bonus here for me was that it doesn’t require the use of water. It was also like nothing I’ve personally seen before, so I was even more excited to get my hands on it.

Hypothesis:

I predict that the Collar Perfect-Compact Travel and Touch-up Iron will be added to my list of traveling must-haves!

Continue Reading…

Design

Technically Speaking: Toys, Technology, and the Joys of Tinkering

May 6, 2015

A decade ago, Steven Johnson countered conventional wisdom with the audacious proposal that electronic media consumption is a beneficial societal force in Everything Bad is Good For You. Johnson makes a thoroughly convincing argument that an all-you-can-eat diet of TV and video games is actually good for people’s problem solving skills and overall IQ. Still, some will always be wary of too much technology, and more recent initiatives like Gever Tulley’s Tinkering School seem to encourage a return to hands-on experience and inventive play. Today, some trends try to reconcile these directions—tinkering with the inner workings of the diode and microchip world all around us. Ironically, other trends use invisible technology to encourage communication through playful interactions.

Modular Synth Kit | UncommonGoods

Modular Synth Kit
Developed by MIT Media Lab alumna and TED Fellow Ayah Bdeir, our Modular Synth, Space Science, and Smart Home kits offer an addictive introduction to the world of electronic components. By connecting the color-coded, magnetized modules like a brick building toy, you can create some awesome mad scientist devices and learn about the principles of technology in the process. The array of modules includes power, input, output, and wire (splitter or mixer) units, incorporating light, sound, sensors, and mechanical functions. Technical as this inventory may sound, the modular dimension provides a system that can be learned in minutes, and facilitates multi-media mixing of light, sound, and motion for limitless invention. Avowed “disinformationist” Reggie Watts shows just how much fun you can have through his improvisation with the Synth kit.

Modular Smart Home Kit | UncommonGoods

Modular Smart Home Kit

For those who may not even know they’re interested in electronics, Ayah’s invitation to play is enticing: “we’re trying to make [these modules] as accessible as possible and as instantaneous as possible, so you can see the results.” In her commitment to democratizing technology, she echoes cyberspace-defining writer William Gibson observation that “the future is already here—it’s just not evenly distributed.” For that matter, the culture behind these kits features an open source component, encouraging the sort of tool and material innovation fostered by Tulley’s tinkerers. Ayah comments on this aspect of her system:

We started to lose this ability to play with technology as technology started to become more finished and closed…[our goal] is to demystify technology…the magic of electricity is everywhere around us—it’s beautiful, and we have to contribute to it and be creative with it.

Still not convinced that a focus on the inner workings of electronics is a good idea? Allow us to introduce Milksop the Bear, a toy-meets-digital-communication critter that’s designed to divert kids from the inevitable pull of grown-up social media. He’s the invention of Guari Nanda, also a graduate of the MIT Media Lab, who comments “there are so many apps today that isolate kids from family…we wanted to create one that does the opposite.” Through his Wi-Fi connection and custom app, Milksop allows adults (mom, dad, grandma, grampa) to send messages to his kid companion. When Milksop grunts to say “you’ve got mail,” the messages are delivered in a whimsically modulated voice. Then, kids can respond by recording a voice message that’s sent back to their adult admirers through the app. No screen, no typing, no direct contact with the pitfalls of too much technology. Milksop utilizes kids’ natural tendency to have conversations with their toys, applying electronic components, code, and the cloud to connect generations, rather than giving kids too much screen time too soon. At the same time, parents can choose to use Milksop’s gentle take on cloud-based communication as their child’s first introduction to the digital world.

Milksop Bear | UncommonGoods

Milksop Walkie Talkie Mailman
UncommonGoods’ family of techie toys also includes Richard Upchurch’s curiously cute Zoots, Lil’ MIB, and Loopy Lou. Each handmade gadget is part instrument and part pet robot, combining analog electronic components like those of Ayah’s kits within handmade, wood housing detailed with familiar, interactive buttons and switches. In keeping with their old school controls, Richard’s designs are kept deliberately simple, in that their recording functions are limited and ephemeral. Richard explains the reasoning behind this decision:

While we live in a culture of saving everything (voicemail, emails, social media feeds), I feel it’s important to celebrate the impermanence of things, to cherish the moment you’re living in. Take that moment, create within it, laugh, play, build a memory; then move forward into the next moment. It’s here that I find myself encouraged by the creative timing without being inhibited by comparing the past to present. This creates a space that allows us all—kids and adults—to play and create without inhibition.

From their handmade wood bodies to their whimsical, silkscreened “faces,” Zoots, Lil’ MIB, and Loopy Lou share the mission of Ayah’s modular bits—to make electronics accessible and endearing. For more on Richard’s easygoing but innovative approach to designing and building technological toys, follow along with our recent tour of his studio.

Lil Mib | UncommonGoods

A look inside Loopy Lou
Whether the future (or the unevenly distributed present, according to William Gibson) is shaped by products that encourage or discourage a direct interface with technology remains to be seen. Maybe a measure of both approaches is best. Going forward, 3D printing technology promises to continue the reconciliation of media and material, circuitry and stuff, bringing replicator-like integration between the physical and digital worlds. If it’s going to be this much fun, we say “make it so!”

Check out more tech toys! | UncommonGoods

Gift Guides

Gifts for Men: 14 Designs that the “Man Who Has Everything” Doesn’t Already Have

December 11, 2014

Gifts for The Man Who Has Everything That He Doesn't Already Have | Gift Guide for HIM | UncommonGoods

In a world with endless options, some of us suffer from some form of analysis paralysis. We over-think the pros and cons of our gifts, fearing buyer’s remorse or another oversight. This is especially true when we encounter those guys on our wishlists who appear to own every cool thing ever made. Whether he’s a modern-day Renaissance Man, or just a distinguished hoarder, he is completely immune to any fear of committing to a collection of very useful, fashionable, well made things. And why shouldn’t he? You only live once! But fear not! No one has it all and it’s not impossible to find him a gift he wouldn’t want to add to his collection. We’ve picked out 14 cool and unique items that will be sure to impress that special man who seemingly has everything.

 

Cloudy Day Toilet Paper Storage | UncommonGoods

1. Rain or shine, the guy who has it all should never find himself out of stock! Now if only he would remember to leave the toilet seat down. | Cloudy Day Toilet Paper Storage

 

Stone Drink Dispenser | UncommonGoods
2. Sticks and stones will break his bones, but they will also make for a very sophisticated drink dispenser. | Stone Drink Dispenser

Whiskey Wedge | UncommonGoods
3. Cheers to whiskey on the rocks that isn’t watered down! | Whiskey Wedge

Beer Opening Glass | UncommonGoods
4. He doesn’t always drink beer, but when he does, he’ll prefer the Beer Opening Glass.

Seven Deadly Sins Pilsner Glasses | UncommonGoods
5. Whether he’s lusting after a cold one, or indulging in the gluttony of a third, these witty glasses will ensure that his bros won’t lose track of their brews at the next house party. | Seven Deadly Sins Pilsner Glasses

Wise Beer Growler | UncommonGoods
6. It would be wise to gift this companion before the next beer run! |  Wise Beer Growler 

Boombox Touch Speaker | UncommonGoods

 

7. He has the newest smart phone, but does he have a smart speaker? |  Boombox Touch Speaker 

Foodie Dice | UncommonGoods

8. From his beloved Vitamix to his people-pleasing pasta maker, we know he’s got his home cooking routine down to a science. Shake things up by introducing this uncontrolled variable to his foodie lab! | Foodie Dice

Literary Cufflinks | UncommonGoods

9.  Help him suit up like a gentleman and a scholar. | Literary Cufflinks 

iPad Foosball |UncommonGoods

 

10. He already has the iPad, but we doubt he has a bunch of those little wooden soccer guys lying around!  iPad Foosball lets him transform his tablet into a Foosball table in no time.

Fixie Pizza Cutter | UncommonGoods

11. If he’ a pizza fan, he’ll love it. If he’s a pizza fan and a cyclist, he’ll love it even more and  burn off the extra calories during his next ride. Double win. | Fixie Pizza Cutter

Magnetic Bike Lights | UncommonGoods

12. Speaking of biking–really cool, super strong magnets first. Uh, we mean “safety first.” In this case, it’s actually both. | Magnetic Bike Lights

Laser Projection Keyboard | UncommonGoods

13. Why yes, that is a futuristic Laser Projection Keyboard with motion sensing technology that turns any flat surface into something that looks like it was pulled from a sci-fi film.

Men's Military Field Grooming Kit | UncommonGoods14. Good hygiene is one of the things the guy who has everything already has, so he’ll love this collection of high-end men’s toiletries. He’ll also love that they come in a real, upcycled US Army supply can, because that’s just cool. | Mens Military Field Grooming Set

 

Gifts for The Man Who Has Everything That He Doesn't Already Have | Gift Guide for HIM | UncommonGoods

Gift Guides

A (Snow?!) Day at the Beach with the E-tablet Sounds Speaker

March 20, 2014

When I first heard about the E-Tablet Sounds Speaker, I don’t remember being impressed. Considering that the description explaining the two capabilities of this case is 1. It protects any standard sized tablet from water or sand and 2. It functions as a speaker for the device inside, I think it’s more factual to say that I wasn’t slightly fazed.

To be honest, I figured this isn’t amazingly revolutionary for a society with flying drones and glass lens’ sized computers but I see how this would make the day of an iPad touting, Beach going enthusiast. Nevertheless, I being none of those, didn’t care.

But here it was, included in the group of products that my colleague, Adam, and I were mulling over and brainstorming product demonstration ideas for. That’s when he says something along the lines of, “You know what’s funny, Merchants want me to make a video for this beach product now and it’s the middle of winter… especially this winter.”

[Light bulb clicking on sound here.]

But first.. let me explain this winter. Over the last few months NYC has gotten smacked with Mother Nature’s back hand. Snow, sleet, heavy rains, ice, hail, flooding, polar vortexes, perfect spring days… we’ve seen a lot this season. That day was no different. As we met, snow was accumulating outside and forecasted to continue until 5-7 inches of fresh powder joined us on our commute home.

Conditions were even worse the following Thursday. Downpours of rain, snow and hail made an exciting combination. The lines between sidewalks and roads didn’t exist and the game of guess-which-puddle-is-actually-a-lot-deeper-than-you-think was in full swing. Nonetheless, E-tablet Sounds in hand, Adam and I made our way to Coney Island Beach.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words right? Well, the video above offers pages about the results from our experiment. Throughout all of the activities, the E-tablet Sounds provided the soundtrack needed to pump up the volume out there and keep my thoughts off of how much snow made its way in my boots. Once we’re able to experience dry beach sand in the Northeast again, I easily see a follow up trip happening where the only place I expect to see ice is in my drink.

Gift Guides

Top Picks from a Tech Guy: Our Systems Admin’s Favorite Goods

September 24, 2012

Greetings! My name is Jonathan, and I am currently on the Sysadmin team here at UncommonGoods. Around this time of the year, my team and I work extra hard to make sure your gift giving and receiving experience are the best you have ever had. But in the midst of all this preparation we still manage to play with the some of the many cool toys and gadgets we carry. Here are a few of my favorites.

Cube LED Alarm Clock
In Technology you can find just about anything to fit your needs even if your needs are to just to be woken up on time. This alarm clock keeps things simple. It serves its main purpose as an alarm clock and it’s aesthetically pleasing to boot. This battery powered box can be placed anywhere! No, really, you can put it anywhere without the worry finding a power source. So far this little box has woken me up out of my bed and onto my favorite part of the morning, the coffee part.
Wooden Gizmos

Mini Wooden Speaker
I like to listen to music at work, and usually I just go with my earbuds. But sometimes the whole tech team agrees that we need some background music. In that case, this little speaker is great.

MaKey MaKey
Even if you’re a beginner to the world of microcontrollers, you should be able to grasp the concept of this little device. Anything can be turned into a controller (no really, anything) with just a little bit of creativity. So far we have made buttons and triggers from simple objects such as marshmallows, fruit, doormats, doorknobs, cups of water, ink, and just about anything else we could find lying around. This is a great tool for children and adults alike who want to tinker with electronics without the risks of real power or breaking the device itself. I recommend this product to my fellow gamers, tech enthusiasts or anyone who likes to play with well, anything.



Message Stamp Kit
Let’s face it, birthdays are happening all around us. So if you have a stamp to say happy birthday for you–why not?! If you’re like me and have trouble finding the time (or space on the card with those good-wishes-packed company birthday cards going around the office all the time) to scribble a little something for someone on their birthday then this gift is for you. Sure, it would be easy for me to just send an email from my desk–but this feels a little more personal and it is just as easy. This handy box has helped me with greeting cards for birthdays, anniversaries, bar mitzvahs and those monthly letters to the in-laws. This kit contains the all-in-one emergency sentiments you could ever need; it can even go as far as calling it a Swiss Army sentiment box.

Mushroom Kit
Another non-gadget pick, but perfect for many tech department offices. We aren’t quite in the basement, but we don’t have a lot of natural light. I’ve been meaning to get one of these, because windows or none, it will be nice to get something to grow in our work space. (Especially something we’ll get to eat in a few weeks!)




If you like Jonathan’s picks, don’t forget to check out our other gadgets and tools.

The Uncommon Life

Gift Lab: Portable Magnetic Speaker

September 24, 2012

Background Research:
Camping can be a wonderful, relaxing thing. But, can my boyfriend and I survive 2 nights in the Great Outdoors without any tunes?! I’m going to test the Portable Magnetic Speaker to see if I can blend gadgets with my get-away-from-it-all trip. (I wouldn’t want to drain the car battery in the middle of the Catskills for a little background music.)

Hypothesis:
The Magnetic Portable Speaker will keep the tunes coming while my guy and I relax by the campfire.

Experiment:
We took off for Monguap Pond Campground in Sullivan County, NY. We charged the speaker on the laptop while we packed up. The tiny speaker was ready to rock in about an hour.

Easy to Charge Mini Speaker | UncommonGoods

Once we got up in the mountains, unpacked, and got the fire going it was time for some dinner music to go with our campfire hot dogs and s’mores. This speaker may seem tiny, but it has great sound quality. Also, the volume was surprisingly good; we had to make sure we kept it low enough for out camp site without disturbing our neighbors with Stones tunes.

Inside the tent we used the magnetic clip to keep the speaker anchored to a pillow case so the iPod wouldn’t get lost amongst the egg crate, blankets, and sleeping bags.

Portable Magnetic Speaker

The clip got used again during our afternoon bike ride around the campgrounds. (Keeping the volume at a respectable level of course!)
The speaker had a pretty long battery life too. We didn’t re-charge until the second evening. We used the rental car’s handy USB charger port. We didn’t need to recharge it again until we were safe, sound, and relaxed back in Brooklyn!

Conclusion
For the next camping trip this little iPod speaker will definitely be as important as the flashlights and bug spray. It made our excursion just that much more enjoyable without drowning out the sound of chirping crickets.

Gift Guides

Holiday Gifts Your Teen Will Love

November 22, 2011

The holiday season is is in full swing, and we’re pouring through our assortment selecting great gifts for everyone on your shopping list! Many of our picks are inspired by our Twitter contest winner, Jodie. She won a $500 UncommonGoods shopping spree earlier this year, and we’ve had a ton of fun helping her choose the perfect gifts for her favorite people.

After creating guides for babies and kids based on Jodies’ nephews, age 8 months to 6 years, we realized that although Jodie doesn’t have a teen on her shopping list, many parents, aunts and uncles, and grandparents (to name just a few) do. With this in mind, we picked a few of our favorite gifts for teens.

Remote Control SUV Kit- It may not be time to hand over the keys to a new car, but you can hand over this cool kit. The Remote Control SUV kit starts out as a puzzle and snaps together to become a motorized vehicle.

Bike Bells- A great stocking stuffer, these hand-painted bike bells are functional, funny, and stylish.

Guitar String Bracelets- Whether the teen in your life is a musician, music-lover, or just likes to look good, these unisex accessories are chart toppers.

Sneaker Customization Kit- Designer shoes are expensive, but this kit, which includes sneaker wipes, paints, and a high-quality paint brush, makes it easy for your favorite teen to create their own.

Dancing Lion Speaker- Plug an iPod or another music device up to this lively lion and he dances and sings along. Check out our video to see the King of the Jungle boogy.

Recycled Cotton Animal Mittens- Trendy, but still uncommon, these cozy, cute mittens are made from yarn spun from leftover fabric from upholstery factories that would have otherwise been discarded. They’re also available in mink and skunk.

Black Cat Headphones- More comfortable than earbuds, these hand-crocheted headphones have a vintage feel that still appeals to modern teens.

Big Grips iPad Case- Available in blue or green, these grippy foam covers make your teen’s favorite electronic sidekick easier to hold on to.

From fashionable accessories and beautiful jewelry to techie gadgets and fun games, we’ve got all kinds of great gifts for teens. Stay tuned for more gift guides to find perfect presents for everyone in your life this season!

Need a gift recommendation for a hard-to-shop for teen? Leave a comment below.

Gift Guides

Gifts for the Handyman Dad

June 8, 2011

Father’s Day is coming soon and we’re celebrating dads of all kinds. We’ve already taken a look at great gifts for geeks and we have more fun Father’s Day ideas planned as we count down to June 19!

If your dad is handy with a hammer, skilled with a screwdriver and brilliant with blueprints, he’ll love these gifts for the Handyman Dad.

Handy Dad

Handy Dad

Written by HGTV’s Todd Davis, this book turns DIY projects into playtime. The handy little manual let’s dad chose from 25 projects within three levels of time commitments:  Easy Projects (lava lamp), Afternoon Projects (tire swing) or Weekend Projects (tree house) that kids are sure to love.

Super Tool

super tool

Dad may already have a box full of tools, but the Super Tool is an all-in-one gadget that will let him fix things in a pinch when his regular arsenal of fix-it gear isn’t available. Great for the glove box, the kitchen drawer or the office, the Super Tool features a level, tape measure, LED light, hammer, 90-degree-locking screw driver with 16 bits and powerful alloy magnets.

Gardener’s Seat

Gardener's Seat
This stool and tote combo isn’t just for gardeners! Made of lightweight steel and water-resistant nylon, the fold-up chair is great for working on lower to the ground home improvement projects (That pipe under the sink? A broken doorknob?) and the detachable bag has 21 pockets for different sized tools.

Looking for more gift ideas for the Handyman Dad? We have more tools, gadgets and gizmos he’s sure to love!

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