Gadgets: Products that stand out from the crowd

By Phil the Gadget Guy
From the July 5, 2012 edition

When it comes to water bottles, USB drives and earbuds, you have to ask the question, "How in the world is someone going to make them stand out in a crowd?" This week we have a trio of gadgets that do just that.

Everyone takes swigs from a water bottle at one time or another. Regardless of your favorite liquid, Can't Live Without It Inc. has perfected the "better" reusable water bottle. Called S'well (17-ounce size for $35 and 24-ounce size for $45, swellbottle.com), this double-walled product keeps your favorite beverage cold for an incredible 24 hours or hot for an equally impressive 12 hours.

This gadget will appeal to your ecological sensitivities; it's made of stainless steel and is non-toxic, non-leaching and BPA-free. Additionally, 10 percent of your purchase price is donated to WaterAid, which builds safe and hygienic water sources in Africa and India.

But S'well is about more than just soothing your social conscience. This bottle does its job for more hours than there are in the workday. It looks sharp on your desk or in your backpack, and it comes in six stylish colors. Water doesn't bead on the outside of the bottle, which means no ring on your desk or moisture on your hands or nearby papers. The mouth of the bottle makes for drip-free sipping, yet can be large enough to take in or give up an ice cube.

USB thumb drives are commodity products that have, up to now, been distinguished largely by the amount of data they can hold. Now Hammacher Schlemmer offers the Only Voice Authenticating USB Drive ($50, hammacher.com), which protects your data behind a spoken password.

This gadget, which weighs 1.5 ounces, holds a liberal 8GB of data. Its voice recognition hears more than just the password itself. It also authenticates on the frequencies and nuances of its owner's voice. Should you get laryngitis and be unable to talk, there are backup methods to access your data.

As a Kickstarter devotee, I contributed to a product called CordCruncher a few months back. This past weekend, I received my own CordCruncher, which keeps the cords of my earbuds from tangling. Basically the cords are encased in an elastic sleeve that can be sized to hold 16 inches to 3.5 feet, depending on your activity.

This gadget comes in red, white, blue and black and costs $25 pre-assembled. You can order yours at cordcruncher.com and make twisted, tangled wires a thing of the past.