We see a lot of unusual tech products of suspect practicality, like a
The card targets the irritating chatter you sometimes hear when you place GSM smartphones next to electronic devices like conference phones, computer speakers, and AM/FM radios (it sounds like whiny, electronic hoofbeats).
The iPhone and other GSM phones broadcast radio frequency when they attempt to connect to the data network. Other electronic devices may turn around and play that outbound "signal," resulting in chatter. (GSM phones are notoriously noisier than CDMA phones due to the TDMA technology that GSM phones use.) Buzz Killers claim to stifle the noise.
Over the weekend, we tested that claim with an iPhone 4 and a notoriously vocal Sony kitchen radio that was plugged in, but not powered on. Sure enough, the radio got busy playing back the iPhone's frequencies as the smartphone downloaded e-mail over 3G. We set it down on a Buzz Killer Card and things got much quieter.
To find out why, we (carefully) split open the card with a case knife to find a thin sheet of iridescent, metalized plastic--like the Mylar skin of a helium-filled balloon--sandwiched between the card's external plastic layers. The "proprietary alloy" works as a shield to minimize the GSM phone's interference, Buzz Killers told us.
So does it work? When chatter was low, introducing the Buzz Killer significantly squelched the noise. Other times, the zapper dialed down strong interference to a tolerable hum.
The $7.49 Buzz Killer Cards are certainly handy when needed, but would we carry them with us as a preventative measure, or stock up a conference room? Unlikely. Although failing all else, they do make mighty fine coasters.