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Computer Accessories

Crave Summer: USB power keeps you cool

If you're a little too pasty to face the sun's murderous rays, you can still indulge in a little summer frivolity courtesy of these funky USB-powered devices

British summertime is upon us. We've swapped our Timberland boots for flip-flops, attended the odd barbecue, and spent every waking Sunday minute in pub gardens, boozing like our livers depended on it.

But not all geeks can be as socuially adept as us. If you're a little too pasty to face the sun's murderous rays, or you're just a Billy no-mates, you can still indulge in a little summer frivolity courtesy of these funky USB-powered devices we've discovered on our travels.

All of them have a definite, or in some cases tenuous, link to the summer season, but every last one is either a) worthy of investing in, or b) ludicrous enough to make you forward this story to your mates.

Whatever the case, grab your mouse, hit the 'Next' button and guffaw like a buffoon as we hit you with the USB hotness. -Rory Reid

Some things are just too incredible for words. Behold, friends, the USB Butt Cooler. Developed by the perpetually zany Japanese, this preposterous gadget is designed to pump your posterior with puffs of cool air.

The design is brutally simple. It's basically a cushion that sits atop your chair. It connects to a vacant USB port via a 148mm cable, which is just long enough so you don't drag your entire PC on to the floor when you scoot backwards. There's even an on/off button so you can carefully regulate your arse temperature.

Why they didn't invent this sooner, we have no idea. Check it out here.


If pigs had sweat glands, they'd sweat like nerds. And be honest, those tell-tale wet patches in the armpit region do absolutely nothing to help your self image, do they, sweaty?

But rather than just sitting there leaking everywhere, you should buy yourself some deodorant, or at least this USB-powered shirt with integrated cooling fans.

The air-conditioned top comes with a pair of 10cm fans built into the love-handle region. When connected to your laptop or PC, they pump cool air predominantly across your back and sides, making you one cool customer.

If you're brave enough to venture outside, you can even attach a set of four AA batteries, or hook it up to your car's cigarette lighter some chilled out cruising.

Buy one for $159 (£81) from here.

We go from the ridiculous to slightly less ridiculous with the USB Beverage Chiller. It's a sort of reverse USB Mug Warmer. Connect it to your PC, place a bottle of water or can of pop on the blue panel, and it drops the liquid to about 7C (45F).

You can grab one from ThinkGeek -- or check out our next entry...

Now this is more like it -- the USB Mini Fridge. Whereas the open-top USB Beverage Cooler invites mosquitos and flies to share your Relentless, this baby is self-contained and bug-free.

It takes 5 minutes to reach its optimum temperature of 8C (47F), but we wouldn't be surprised if it kept drinks cooler than the USB Beverage Cooler -- it's a fridge for crying out loud. It only holds one can, which is a bit lame, but it's only $33 (£17), so you can probably afford to buy two. Our only gripe is that it doesn't appear large enough to hold a can of Stella or a bottle of Becks -- so you may want to hack the top off.

Grab one from this lot.

We desperately wanted the George Foreman USB iGrill (top) to be real. Alas, it was an April Fool's joke and nobody has seen fit to mass-produce one.

Still, if you absolutely, positively cannot venture outside to a real barbecue, or absolutely, positively have no friends, it is possible to have a barbecue in the comfort of your bedroom.

You'll need to buy six PCI USB hubs to give you a total of 30 USB ports. Then you'll need a USB mug warmer and the balls to wire all 30 USB cables to the element inside (above left).

The end result is one of the most bizarre DIY devices in the Western world. But it's summer, so why the hell not? If you ask nicely, we might even come over to share a tasty strip of USB'd bacon.*

*We won't. We're afraid of house fires.

Okay, we've shown you some pretty preposterous devices, but we've also found some USB gizmos you can use without fear of ridicule. The first is the USB NotePal W1 from CoolerMaster.

The aluminium base and twin fans allegedly lower your laptop's temperature by as much as 7C. You'll look like a bit of a numpty using it in public, but it could make the difference between annoying heat-related crashes and making it to the next level of F.E.A.R.

It's yours for £32 from Pixmania.

We'll leave you with this final gem: a Flexible USB-Powered Personal Fan. Yours for only £3.50, this baby is ideally connected to a USB port on the side of your monitor (or wherever), so it can blow good old-fashioned air in your face.

Nuff said. Cop one from Aria now.