The gadget days of summer

From automatic lawn mowers to storm detectors and infrared grills, here are some fun and fanciful gadgets for summer.

CNET Reviews staff
1 of 14 Husqvarna

Summer is here, and for technocrats, that means more than just mojitos and barbecues. Here are some useful and fanciful gadgets to help you make the most of your time enjoying the sun, surf and lazy weekends of the season.

The Auto Mower from Husqvarna is like a Roomba for the lawn. Able to manage inclines of up to 35 degrees, the Auto Mower uses a rechargeable nickel metal hydride battery to quietly trim and mulch unwanted grass. It can be set to run at night and will automatically return to its base to recharge as needed.

A wire buried just underground sets the parameters for the $2,000 Auto Mower, though it can go around the occasional tree on its own. Safety sensors are in place to stop the blades, which only run while the mower is in motion, from harming children and small critters who might reach underneath the device. While winter storage is recommended, the Auto Mower can withstand rains and winds typical of other seasons.
2 of 14 Olympus Imaging America
Waterproof camera casings abound, but why not just get a waterproof camera? You'll be just as grateful for it in winter when someone drops the gadget in the New Year's punch.

While 2.4 seconds between shots is a little slow, the Olympus Stylus 770 SW is a 7-megapixel camera with a 2.5-inch anti-glare LCD screen. The camera, which has digital image stabilization, can keep shooting in up to 33 feet of water and also withstand a drop of 5 feet. The camera will even record sound with those underwater videos.

3 of 14 Michael Kanellos/CNET News.com
Looking for a green status symbol? The electric Maxi Scooter from Vectrix could be for you. Yes, it costs three times more than a Vespa and only goes 60 miles between charges, but it might be just the thing for quietly tooling around the Hamptons or Santa Monica.

For something that runs off nickel metal hydride batteries, the Maxi Scooter is zippy, sort of. The $11,000 scooter does 0 to 50 miles per hour in about 6.8 seconds.

4 of 14 Kimberly-Clark Corporation
Young sun worshipers may not have the wherewithal to come in out of the sun, but these UVB detecting stickers might at least help remind the little ones when it's time to put on more sunscreen. Huggies Little Swimmers sun sensors are stickers that change from yellow to orange when it's time to apply more lotion--or ditch the sun altogether. A pack of 24 stickers costs $3.99.
5 of 14 Rasmussen Iron Works
The Solaire line of infrared grills from Rasmussen Iron Works grills faster with ceramic burners that emit infrared heat (between microwaves and visible light on the light spectrum) powered by the usual propane. A Solaire grill's burner takes only three minutes to heat up and cooks food 50 percent faster than a typical gas grill, according to the company.

Because the food cooks from a direct source of high heat (temperatures range from 340 to 950 degrees) evenly spaced, food is supposedly seared more quickly and retains more moisture than it would with gas or charcoal grills. The average hamburger takes seven minutes total to grill, according to Solaire's own directions.

While the Solaire portable sells for about $323, the 27-inch grill goes for $1,209 and the 56-inch grill for about $5,559.

6 of 14 Discovery Channel Store
The Discovery Mosquito Shield, available from the Discovery Channel Store, emits Geriniol, an odor that's supposed to keep mosquitoes away up to 15 feet. At only about $20, it's worth a try. Each Geriniol cartridge lasts up to 120 hours.
7 of 14 iRobot
The Verro from iRobot is a robot pool cleaner that sucks up debris, algae and bacteria, in addition to buffing up the floor and walls of the pool. It pumps through about 5,000 gallons of water an hour and can clean the average pool in about 60 to 90 minutes, according to iRobot. Depending on the model, the Verro runs between $800 and $1,200.
8 of 14 AquaClimb
Another pool gadget, the AquaClimb, is a climbing wall for your pool--or a community pool, given that prices start at $10,490 and vary depending on size of the wall. The stainless steel and fiberglass AquaClimb has a nonskid coating, according to the company. You can pick and choose the 3x3-foot color squares that make up the wall.
9 of 14 Hammacher Schlemmer
Whether or not you like open-source chat with your Barolo, you'll probably want to keep it chilled just right. This infrared thermometer can detect the temperature of your wine before you pop the cork. You can also check on bottles in transit to see if you need to turn up the air conditioning in your car.
10 of 14 CNET Networks
You can't stay in the house all summer playing with your Wii. Well, you could, but...

You can, however, take your Nintendo DS Lite with you to satisfy your video game cravings, even as you enjoy the great outdoors. The Nintendo DS Lite offers a slimmer, more brightly lit option than the original for only $130.

11 of 14 Hammacher Schlemmer
While many people are fans of the count-and-divide-by-5 method, this handy tool gives an accurate reading of storms out of ear's reach.

This 75-Mile Range Thunderstorm Detector gives the ETA of approaching storms through a flashing LED light, beeps and text messages on its screen. This gives you time to hike for cover or head back into the harbor long before you're in danger of getting struck. It's available at Hammacher Schlemmer for $430.

12 of 14 Ken Andreyo/CMU
For about $350, the Telepresence Robot Kit is a great summer project to take on with kids during those rainy weekends. The DIY robot kit, developed in conjunction with Carnegie Mellon, includes Qwerk, a Linux computer with robot-controlling software that resides on the robot. Carnegie Mellon has a Web site that offers robot recipes with off-the-shelf parts for projects like this Terk Flower Robot, which plays catch using its petals.
13 of 14 Celestron
That's Cassiopeia up there, or is it Venus? Stargazing on summer nights has been a pastime since the people who named the stars were around. But aside from the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper, how many stars can you identify? The $400 SkyScout personal planetarium by Celestron will get you acquainted with the night objects, including the mythology and history behind them, in addition to their name and distance from Earth. Just point and shoot, and text and audio will tell you what you see.
14 of 14 Kingston Technology
No gadget guide would be complete without at least one reference to a rugged USB drive. The DataTraveler Secure from Kingston can withstand temperatures between 185 and -4 degrees Fahrenheit, as well as a 4 foot dunk in the pool. Price ranges from $40 to $244 depending on capacity (between 512MB and 4GB available) and security options.

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