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Bosch DLR130K Digital Distance Measurer
I've recommended what I call my "magic measuring machine" before, and I'm doing it again. This thing is a huge help whenever I'm trying to size an area in the house or workshop. This thing is different from sonic-based measuring devices, which shine a light beam just to give you an idea where you're pointing. This uses a refracted laser to measure and, over the past few years, where I've measured things down to the quarter of an inch, it hasn't missed once.
An essential tool for the homeowner and DIY-ITer, especially if you're trying to setup a workspace.
What I like: It works.
What I'd like to see: Easier way to record measurements, perhaps the ability to send them to my phone. Can you imagine this with Siri? Hey, one can dream, right?
Find it here at about $90.
ProPrompter HDi Pro2
When I set out to build the the Skype Studio, I knew I wanted a way to look straight into the camera (and not below it, like on a webcam). I also knew that, once in a while, I'd also need to read text Obama-like, right off a teleprompter.
But I wanted something relatively small and light, yet capable. What I hit on was the Bodelin and ProPrompter HDi Pro2, which allows me to use an iPad as the screen. This is enormously powerful, because I use a VNC client on the iPad to reach out onto my network and feed anything I want into the prompter, usually the image of the person I'm talking to on Skype.
One very neat feature of the ProPrompter is there's iPhone and iPad software that talk to each other. I had to do a scripted bit for The Economist last summer and I was able to control the pacing of the prompting on the iPad by tapping my iPhone, which sat on my lap.
What I like: Lots of flexibility.
What I'd like to see: A little bit easier way to insert and remove the iPad without accidentally moving the camera setup by a tiny bit.
Find it here at starting at about $1,200.
X-keys XK-24 Programmable Keypad
Now, this thing is just neat. It's a USB keypad, but you can completely customize the buttons. The image above shows buttons that are all square, but you can have wide buttons or tall buttons, you can have buttons that display in different colors, and send different signals.
So, why would you want to do this? In my case, this creates a customized control console for video production, and pressing a single button allows a scene change. For gamers, it allows you to map keys to specific functions (i.e., in World of Warcraft, making key labels that match the various spells and abilities). And, of course, there are tons of uses for customized industrial control and other custom projects.
What I like: Great way to customize keyboard interface to special-purpose projects.
What I'd like to see: Wireless. And, oh, wireless. Did I mention wireless? Yeah, wireless.
Find it here a $129.95.