Wired headsets, cheap printers, costly cartridges

The Gadget Zone

By James Careless –

Doomsday Device USB Hub

The days are getting longer, but not quickly enough for most people’s liking (including mine). So here are three neat pieces of tech to distract you in the meantime.

One of the great dangers of wearing a wired telephone headset is forgetting that you are wearing it … and then wandering away. This never turns out well: The still-connected headset gets ripped off your head (which hurts), or the phone gets dragged off the desk and falls on your foot (which also hurts), or the plug pops out and whiplashes into your nose (which hurts as well). A way to forego all this suffering is by getting a Bluetooth wireless headset such as the Plantronics CS351N Monaural SupraPlus Wireless Headset. Available at Staples.ca for $279.95, this headset is an over-the-ear model with a single padded earpiece and small boom microphone. Wearing the CS351N, you can walk up to 300′ (100m) from your desk without losing your call, or getting maimed.

One of the common jokes heard around laser printer circles these days (yes, they do exist), is that it is now cheaper to buy a new printer than to replace the toner cartridge. Well, this is currently true for the Samsung ML-1665 monochrome laser printer. Right now, this small office printer – which can print up to 17 pages per minute, at a resolution of 1,200 by 600 dpi (dots per inch) – is on sale at www.ncix.com for $49.95 and it comes with a 700 page starter toner cartridge included. (The regular price for the ML 1665 at www.ncix.com is $79.98.) For the record, a replacement 1,500 page toner cartridge for the ML 1665 costs $74.15 at www.123inkcartridges.ca. So there you are.

One of my favourite ThinkGeek.com toys is my Doomsday Device USB Hub. Functionally, this is a 4-in-1 USB hub, where you can plug in up to four USB devices at a time for connectivity and recharging. However, what I like best about this device is that it is also a multi-layer Doomsday activation control unit; think mad scientists and maniacal laughs.

The Doomsday Device comes in a rectangular brushed aluminum case with two toggle switches labeled 1 and 2; a key labeled 3, a Main light that glows red, and – best of all an ominous big button in the centre. This button, which initiates the final Destruct sequence, is outlined with hazard tape and covered by a clear cubical cover with a ‘Caution’ and skull-and-crossbones on it. To initiate the sequence, you first flip the small #1 toggle switch, then the larger #2 toggle switch, and then turn the key. This illuminates the Main light: Now just flip back the Caution cover, push the ominous red button and run!

“But what really happens when you press the button?” ask the folks at www.thinkgeek.com “We’re not sure. Perhaps 15 kittens explode; perhaps your bank account lowers by a fraction of a cent; perhaps you start an interplanetary war trillions of parsecs away by blowing up the caravan of Queen Knorb’l. But one thing is clear – before pushing the button, you must ask yourself, ‘Do I feel lucky, punk? Well…do I?’” The Doomsday Device USB Hub is $49.99 at www thinkgeek.com.

James Careless is a veteran consumer tech reporter, whose stories have been seen in the National Post, Globe and Mail, and Toronto Star.