In America, Saint Patrick’s Day means nothing more than drinking, discussing Irish stereotypes, and wearing green articles of clothing. Celebrate how you see fit, but here at Tom’s Guide we’ve taken the subject of “green” a little further. So, in honor of the Emerald Isle, we offer up a little game of “Green or ‘Green?’” Before you click to each consecutive page, guess whether the gadget that appears will be Green—as in the hue—or "Green," as in earth-friendly. In a few rare cases, the gadget will be both green and “green.”
We’re not sure how well this device would fare in Michigan in the depths of winter, but here in sunny Southern California the SolChat solar-powered Bluetooth speakerphone saved us some trouble. We left the 3.5-inch SolChat suctioned to the dashboard or attached to the visor, and it kept a charge, ready to speak up whenever we wanted to make a call in the car. We didn’t have to take it inside to charge, nor did we have to leave a charging cable plugged into the cigarette lighter. Some phones will allow you to move your contacts via Bluetooth to the device so that it can tell you who is calling—a useful feature that prevents unnecessary glances at your phone while you are driving. Is it wrong to feel smug about being eco-friendly and safety-conscious at the same time? $99
Tripp Lite ECO-Surge 8 Outlet
That one was too easy—the “Eco” in the product name gives it away. This surge suppressor features a “green mode” that can help you save an average of $40 per year on your electricity costs. It does this by eliminating loads of electricity to gadgets that aren’t on or don’t need the juice (often called phantom loads). If you turn off your laptop, the ECO-Surge will also cut power to your connected printer, scanner, lamps and any other devices you would no longer need if you weren’t using your laptop (these are plugged into the special power-save outlets). Of course, this function can be switched off. Additionally, small devices with low power consumption needs, such as a netbook, can be assigned to the “master outlet” and you can manually control the wattage for that device, if necessary. $89.99
Urbanears Plattan Headphones
The most exciting thing about the $60 Urbanears Plattan headphones? There’s a jack called a “zound plug” built right into the headset so your friend can plug her headphones into your headphones. Now that’s social-networking. We also like that the Plattans start out looking sturdy and comfortable, but fold up tight when not in use. An in-line microphone means you can also use these ‘phones to answer calls, hands-free. Three shades of green are available: Salad, Army, and Ocean.
This “green” gadget gives you the green-light to take a shower (and then the orange and red lights telling you to slow down and stop). That’s right—it’s a stoplight for your over-indulgent, water-wasting ways. If you’ve tried to kick the 30 minute shower habit, this gadget could help you quit. You place it near the drain of your shower and take a normal shower. It records that shower as a “benchmark” and won’t let you take one longer than that: every shower thereafter is a little bit shorter than the one before it, with the orange and red lights appearing as you (hopefully) wind-down your washing.
Ferrari 599 Hybrid Concept
Ferrari 599 Hybrid Concept
Okay, we admit it: we just put this “gadget” in for laughs. We don’t expect anyone to buy it—in fact, you can’t buy it. It is only a concept vehicle that was shown off this month at the Geneva Auto Show. The car is based on a real Ferrari, though—the 599 GTB Fiorano—and according to the automaker this concept car can still do some supercar-like things: 200 mph, and 0-60 in 3.5 seconds. It has a v12 engine and an electric motor—yeah, kind of like Prius but wayyyyy more exciting. It gets 25 miles per gallon, compared to its gasoline equivalent which manages 16 miles per gallon. Ferrari intends to start building a car with this type of technology in about five years.
Novothink Solar Surge iPhone Charger
Yes, this is a solar iPhone-charging case (and it does come in other colors besides green). The built-in solar panel charges up a lithium ion battery inside the case, which then transmits a full charge to an iPhone (or iPod Touch) via the contact points inside the case. If the iPhone is simply left in the case, it will top up the iPhone with juice on an as-needed basis. Strap it to your backpack so the device gathers the sun’s rays while you’re out and about. Built-in LED lights on the Surge indicate whether there’s enough sunlight to charge up the battery, and how fully the battery is charged. $79.95
Looptworks Hoptu 15-inch Laptop Sleeve
We like it when companies make use of old stuff when creating new stuff. Looptworks uses the nylon neoprene found in old wetsuits to make its laptop sleeves, and then stitches intricate patterns into them for style points. It calls this process “upcycling.” There are two small pockets sewn into the sleeve as well. The price is $30.
Create Camera By Jason Wu for GE
Create By Jason Wu Camera for GE
Jason Wu, for those not in the know, is a fashion designer who dresses celebrities including Michele Obama. He just designed a line of point-and-shoot cameras for General Electric (which is now going by the name General Imaging). The camera has very few features, but seems to be well-designed, light-weight and capable of producing decent images with its 12 megapixels, 3x optical zoom and 2.7-inch LCD screen. It has its own rechargeable battery and a retractable USB plug that brings images stored on its built-in 4GB or 8GB flash memory to the computer—and interesting design choice. Colors include: white, black, gold, red, yellow, blue, green, white leather, black leather and gray leather.
10 Vexia Eco-Nav Series 80
This satellite navigation system does more than tell you how to get from Point A to Point B. It tells you how to reduce CO2 emissions, too. The device (which is only available in Europe, so far) gives instructions tailored to your specific car so that you save fuel and drive in the cleanest manner possible. Examples of instructions include what gear to shift into (if you drive a manual transmission car), the must fuel efficient speed at any given moment, info on when you’ve accelerated or braked unnecessarily, etc. The company claims you could extend a tank of gas by more than 120 miles above what you’d expect from it during your previous bad-habit driving days.
Casio Baby-G BGR300GR-3 Watch
The chunky, sporty Baby-G digital watch now comes in a solar-powered version in a sea-green color. It won’t need a new battery every few years, which means it uses less hazardous waste. The $110 watch has white controls and letters on the band, and an aluminum bezel around the digital face.
Kensington Wall/Air Ultra Compact Notebook Power Adapter
If you could reduce the amount of energy your laptop uses by 30%, while at the same time shrinking the size and weight of your charger by 43% and 32%, respectively, would you? Kensington’s new power adapter does just that, but the price is a tad hefty, at $119.99. We’re not suggesting you replace your old power adapter (though you could), but perhaps you need an extra one for the road. Kensington’s model is compatible with most major laptop manufacturers (you have to select the proper charging tip), and also comes with a USB port built-in, for charging your smart phone or camera. This kit also includes that special cable that allows you to charge your devices on an airplane, as well as a retractable mini USB cable and a micro USB adapter.
BioSerie iPhone Case
Okay, so this iPhone case doesn’t only come in green—it comes in lots of other colors, too. The $34.95 case is made from plant-derived, biodegradable Ingeo biopolymers—that is to say, plants, rather than plasticized petrochemicals.
Sonoro Cubo 2010
Or, you could go “green” with the bamboo version of this stylized high-quality iPod- dock/mini-stereo. It contains an FM radio, RF remote control, stereo line-out, CD player (plays Mp3 CDs too), alarm clock functionality, and headphone jack. Colors include: black, white, red, silver, yellow, green, pink, bamboo and dark oak. The device measures 8.3-inches by 5.3-inches and sells for about $500.
Vers Wooden iPad Case
Its natural, its renewable, its wood. It also looks beautiful. If you’re going to buy an iPad, and you’re going to clothe it in something, you might as well make that something organic. It is too bad that this lovely case costs $80, but the top-loading design, soft lining, and built-in kickstand make it rather luxe.