Absurd Gear Pitches For Things We Don’t Need

When you’re on the mailing lists for the gear companies, you get some very odd things pitched your way as “perfect for travelers!” Sometimes the pitch is spot on, and you think, yeah, I would totally recommend that. But other times … uh, no – just no. Here are three strange ideas that came my way recently – you decide for yourself, but I’ll pass.

The Utilibrush: This project, funded through Kickstarter (why doesn’t this surprise me) solves a problem you didn’t know you had. It combines toothpaste, a reel of floss, a mirror, a cap you can use as a cup to rinse with, and, of course, a toothbrush. This all-in-one, handy device is good for approximately 40 uses (if you floss every day, I guess). The campaign is kind of amusing and the device is only 12 bucks, but you know what? I’m good with throwing those little tubes of toothpaste the dentist gives me into my carry-on.

The Sash Bag: “A modern take on the fanny pack.” I’m going to confess something – I own and still sometimes travel with a fanny pack. It’s earned its place in travel. I find a money belt about the most awkward piece of travel gear ever invented and my ancient fanny pack, sourced somewhere in the depths of the ’80s, fills that role if the type of traveling I’m doing requires it. Beyond that, I just carry a shoulder bag or a day pack. Dudes put the kind of stuff the Sash Bag is supposed to hold in their pockets. I’m taking a cue from the dudes.

The Earbud YoYo: Apparently, there’s an epidemic of accidents on the slopes caused by the annoying tangle of earbud cables. Now, don’t get me wrong, the annoyance of tangled earbuds is a legit, albeit first world, complaint. But what I do not need is an additional do-dad attached to the high-speed shred metal loving denizens of the slopes. What I need is for them to pay attention to what’s around them, not to focus on their own personal sound tracks. Yes, I’m old. Get off my (snow covered) lawn.

[Photo credit: Avrene via Flickr (Creative Commons)]

Daily deal – Refurbished Epson CX8400 scanner/photo printer for $32

My daily deal for today is quite the scorcher – this Epson CX8400 printer may be refurbished, but at $32 it’s an absolute steal.

This all in one device features a flatbed scanner, can print up to 32 pages per minute, integrated copy feature and photo correction settings.

The printer has a built in 2.5″ LCD display and a card reader, making it possible to view and print images directly off your memory cards without the need for a PC.

This printer still sells for $100 on most sites, but if you don’t mind a refurbished unit, you can order it directly from Epson for just $32. The website says $44, but an additional $12 discount is added at the end of the checkout process. You even get free ground shipping from them.

Of course, printers suffer from the “razor blade effect”, so once the ink included with this printer runs out, you’ll have to spend about $60 to refill it. I wouldn’t recommend buying several of these printers just for the ink, but I wouldn’t blame you if you did.

(Via: Fatwallet)

Product review – Epson Artisan 700 all-in-one inkjet printer

In this product review, I’m going to give you a quick look at the newest generation color all-in-one unit from Epson.

The Artisan 700 combines a photo printer, regular printer, scanner and CD printer in one stylish unit. As you can see from the photo above, the Artisan 700 does not look as boring as most other printers, and will certainly help brighten up your office/desk area.

The printer can be connected to your computer using three different methods; USB, Wi-Fi or Ethernet (wired). This also means it can be shared by multiple computers in the household, which is perfect if you have a personal computer as well as a work PC that needs access to a printer.
The front of the Artisan 700 has a tilting control panel with a fairly large display. On the panel you’ll also find 16 buttons, used to select the various features of the printer, and take advantage of the printing and scanning options that can be performed without a computer. To the right of the panel is a card reader and USB connector for connecting to a digital camera. The card reader accepts Compact Flash, SD, XD and Memory Stick formats.

Below the control panel is the paper tray, and that brings me to one of the best features of the Artisan 700; the paper tray holds both regular paper and photo paper at the same time, which means you will no longer have to keep replacing paper every time you want to switch between media.

The third printing tray is hidden inside the printer, and holds CD’s. When you press the CD tray button on the control panel, the machine makes a bunch of clicking noises, and out pops a CD printing tray. To print on a CD or DVD, you will need to purchase special printable discs, these are fairly easy to find, and only cost a few bucks more than a normal 25 or 50 pack.

As I mentioned earlier, the printer has several features built in that can be performed without a PC, these include a copy function, photo viewer (with greeting card option and CD print option), scan to memory card and an option to print ruled papers or graph paper.

Of course, the most important thing a printer can do, is print. And that is one thing the Artisan 700 does quite phenomenally. The machine impressed me both in speed, noise and print quality. Regular documents (I used a full page Word document) print in under 10 seconds, photos on 4×6 or 5×7 photo paper are done in about a minute, full page photos take about 3 minutes when printed on premium paper in the best quality setting.

Included in the retail package is of course the printer itself, as well as 7 ink cartridges. The printer holds 5 color cartridges and one black cartridge, and Epson includes one spare black cartridge as it tends to run out first.

The ink retails for just under $50 for the color multipack and $25 for the black cartridge. After several hundred prints, in various sizes, the printer is down to about half its ink capacity.

The scanner on the Artisan 700 was equally impressive, Epson has a long history of making high quality scanners, and it shows in this product. Photo scans are vibrant and very sharp.

Despite all the great features, there is one area where the Artisan 700 does not always perform as it should – the Ethernet and Wi-Fi interfaces are no very reliable, and I regularly ran into problems connecting with the printer, or kept getting errors that the printer was in use by someone else (I was the only user connected to it at the time).

Of course, these issues could be resolved by a software update in the future, or by connecting the unit to USB and ignoring the network ports.

The Artisan 700 has an MSRP of $199, but can often be found for as little as $149.99. At this price point, it is one of the cheapest network enabled all-in-one machines on the market. The Artisan 700 has a big sister, the Artisan 800. The 800 adds the ability to send and receive fax messages, as well as a sheet-feed scanner.

I’m quite impressed with the Artisan 700, there is no denying that the cost of ink may be a deal breaker for many, but for day to day work at home with the occasional photo or CD print, it will not disappoint you. The print quality is outstanding, and almost on par with the commercial prints you pick up at the local drugstore. CD prints are absolutely fantastic, and allow you to do quite a bit more with your photos than just let them collect dust.