More Than Just Novelties: 20 Useful USB Gadgets That Don’t Suck

It seems that every day there are new USB devices. Some are cool and some are not. I think that anyone that even has a little bit of geek in them will appreciate any of these. Some have practical uses and some are just fun, but all twenty of these gadgets are awesome.

1. Digital Photo Keychain:

I’m sure you’ve seen these cool devices. They can hold up to 35 pictures and you can download them right from your PC. Now you can have pictures of your kids, dog, girlfriend, or wife with you all the time. Just make sure that you don’t have your wife and your girlfriend on the same key chain.

2. Phone Book Cell Phone/ PC Flash Drive:

This handy device is great for maintaining and backing up your phone numbers on your cell phone. You can edit the phone book on your PC and upload it into your phone. Conversely, you can download phone numbers from your phone to your PC so you can have a backup in case something ever happens to your phone. This device can hold up to 10,000 different phone numbers and is compatible with Windows 98SE, Windows ME, Windows 2000, and Windows XP.

3. USB Beverage Warmer/ Cooler:

Keep your drinks warm or cold with this awesome beverage device. In addition, it doesn’t just link up to your computer. It’s also compatible with video game systems such as Xbox and Playstation and is even compatible with your cable box. You can use this gadget for keeping your coffee warm while you’re working during the day, keeping your soda cool while you’re playing your favorite video games in the evenings, and keeping your beer cold while watching sports on TV on the weekends.

4. Oscillating Fan:

This fan is great for warm offices and can either be stationary or can oscillate to circulate some air. It’s only 7 inches, so it will fit anywhere and is perfect for a desktop in your office.

5. Wireless mouse:

There are numerous wireless mice to choose from on the market these days, but it’s an awesome PC item that I think everyone should have. You never have to worry about the restraints of a corded mouse again. You also don’t have to worry about the cord rubbing against a surface so much that it eventually loses wire connection, which is a common problem that can occur over an extended period of time. The wireless mouse is compatible with Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows 2000, and Windows XP.

6. Flexible Keyboard:

This cool keyboard is not only spill-proof, but also water-resistant. You can actually run it under water to clean it! This is a great sanitary solution to keyboards that may sit out for months with crumbs from several meals and the oils from the skin of several different people.

Also, it’s made of high quality silicone, so you can bend it or roll it and it won’t damage the keyboard at all. The keyboard also has a soft and silent touch so you won’t hear that “tap-tap-tap” when you’re typing as you do with traditional keyboards. This keyboard is compatible with Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows ME, Windows 2000, and Windows 98.

7. Battery Charger:

The USB battery charger holds either 2 AA batteries or 3 AAA batteries. This device contains two LED status lights and has an automatic off feature.

8. Pencil Sharpener:

The USB pencil sharpener can be useful at work or at home. It’s a perfect size for a desk as its dimensions are about 3 inches all the way around.

9. Missile Launcher:

This little gadget has no practical use, but it’s a lot of fun. It’s equipped with three foam missiles, pre-recorded sound effects, and missile software in the form of a CD. The missiles can really soar through the air and can shoot up to 20 feet away. This means that you could have a lot of fun at home and drive your pets crazy, or you can have even more fun at work and drive your coworkers crazy.

10. Pen/ MP3Player:

I’ve never seen as awesome a USB gadget as the pen/ MP3 player. It contains a 1GB or 512 MB flash drive, FM radio, built in microphone for voice recordings, and earphones. You get 7 hours of playing time, so it would be perfect to take to work. It’s compatible with Windows XP, 2000, ME and 98 SE operating systems as well as Mac and included in the package is a driver CD and the user’s manual. It’s pretty reasonably priced as the 512 MB version is under $50 and the 1 GB version is under $70.

11. USB Chess Board:

This awesome flexible chessboard is great for playing with a friend, by yourself versus the computer, or with online competitors. It’s great because you can roll it up and go. This gadget is compatible with Windows 2000 or Windows XP operating systems and you will need a 1.5 Ghz processor or faster.

12. Mini Humidifier:

This “cool” humidifier works for a full 45 minutes in its continuous mode or you can use it in its intermittent mode and it will run for 90 minutes. You can also pour scented oils in it for aromatherapy. This is a great device especially during those dry winter months.

13. Digital Microscope:

Okay, all you scientists. Here’s one that you’ll love. This innovative microscope can magnify up to 200 times without even changing lenses. It can attain images up at 1,024 x 768 pixels and also records video. It’s pricey, but worth it.

14. USB Basketball Game:

This awesome little basketball game is great to kill boredom at your work desk or great to play at home too. It’s only about 6 1/2 inches tall, so it’s practical for almost anywhere, despite what your boss might think.

15. USB Refrigerator:

Don’t worry. Your PC’s USB port isn’t going to be powering a 6-foot tall, bulky unit. This is a mini-fridge that will hold only one can of soda so that you can keep a soda cold and ready for you without even leaving your computer. The best part about this mini-fridge is that it only takes about 5 minutes to cool a soda down to 47 degrees Fahrenheit.

16. Wireless PowerPoint Presenter:

Do you prepare a lot of PowerPoint presentations at work? Are you tired of being tethered by a corded remote? Here’s your answer. This wireless presenter works from up to 10 meters away from the source and includes buttons for page up, page down, escape, and F5 (Presentation). It supports Windows 98SE, ME, 2000, XP, and Vista operating systems.

17. Heated Gloves:

This gadget is terrific if you share an office with others who insist on keeping the air conditioning cranked way up beyond your comfort level. These gloves with the holes in the fingers keep your hands warm and still allow you to work.

18. Roll-up Musical Keyboard:

I doubt you’ve seen anything like this. This 49-key flexible piano keyboard contains six different tones and 100 prerecorded rhythms. The keyboard rolls out to be a little less than 30 inches long, but rolls up into a convenient small package. This keyboard and software is compatible with Windows 2000, XP, and Vista operating systems.

19. Memory Watch:

Now you can carry all of your important data and files right on your wrist with this USB memory watch. This great gadget comes in a 2GB version and a 4GB version and it’s compatible with Windows 98, ME, 2000, XP, Linux 2.4 or higher, and Mac 8.6 or higher operating systems.

20. Digital Photo Frames:

These frames come in sizes that range from 2×2 to 8×10 and hold tons of pictures. They’re awesome for setting in your living room or on your desk at work. It’s something you can enjoy and other people will marvel. Though you’ll pay quite a bit, these frames are worth it.

So, what do you think of these gadgets? I’m certain that you’ve seen some of these before. Which ones most impress you? If you think these are impressive, just think about what the next generation’s technology has in store!

Leave a Comment

  1. Matt Webb says:

    Ok.. so where’s the USB coffee pot? Now that I would buy without even thinking twice…

  2. Ganesha says:

    I must disagree with the rubbery keyboards. They suck. You have to pound at them to get them to recognize a keystroke… I guess they are okay for little kids that don’t mind pushing with all their might for one key recognition, but otherwise, give that one a pass.

  3. Satish S says:

    Sun was gifting its employees the USB beverage warmer. Twas pretty amusing.

  4. GeoMac says:

    This is one of the funniest reviews I’ve yet seen about USB devices. I like the fan. Our office is full of cold-blooded reptilian people, but they are friendly, but still, it’s a sweatbox. Really. This is a great idea. The reptiles could use foot-warmers. What is the difference between a Windows keyboard and a Macintosh keyboard, by the way, and how does it relate to the USB interest theme, anyhow? The pencil sharpener looks incredibly flimsy. The musical keyboard. Hmm. Well, if you must play, I’d like one that has a MIDI output. I do have a USB mouse, and it works really well. The USB dongle stows inside the mouse. Found it in a local discount chain called Big Lots. Cheap and reliable. Keep up the good work.

  5. Tom R. says:

    None of these are actually that great, seemed like you started off good, but in the end you just got tired.

  6. Bryn says:

    Most of these seem to be either a pointless excuse to waste more electricity (powered pencil sharpener? How lazy is it possible to get?) or are just everyday powered objects with a usb plug instead of a wall plug to power them (fan, battery charger, fridge, humidifier) and gain nothing from being connected to your pc other than to leech its power. There’s a few good ones like the microscope and presentation device that really benefit from interfacing with your pc but most of them do, I’m afraid, suck.

    I just don’t get this fad for having everyday items usb powered – what’s the point? I mean Matt, why would you buy a usb powered coffee pot without thinking twice? If you thought twice you might realise that you could but a normal coffee pot and just plug it into the wall next to your desk. That way you could still use it regardless of whether your pc is switched on or not.

  7. grumpyoldman says:

    These are TERRIBLE!

    You didn’t even TRY.

    “Now you can have pictures of your kids, dog, girlfriend, or wife with you all the time. Just make sure that you don’t have your wife and your girlfriend on the same key chain.”

    Apart from the fact that sounded like retail Copywriting rather than journalism, I’ll give you something even better than keychain that requires power that lets you have pictures of your loved ones all the time – A PHOTOGRAPH. The added bonus that you can keep looking at them when the battery fritzes out.

    Honestly, is it something in the water these days? *sigh*

  8. required says:

    This whole list is useless and a waste of time. A lot of old devices that never took off, and some fresh failures. USB is not the the sliced bread of PC plugs.

  9. Kim says:

    I really like this Refrigerator. I want it for my office.

  10. fun says:

    I like the humping dog usb dongle. Has no purpose, but writing presentation notes on a plane with a 1 inch German Sheppard humping your laptop is hilarious.

  11. Daxii says:

    I really like the musical Keyboard, I can’t wait to get one.

  12. Asadi says:

    this was a grate post I had fun

  13. Asadi says:

    fuck you mother fucker

  14. Asadi says:

    sorry didn’t mean just testing

  15. Bob says:

    >> 18. Roll-up Musical Keyboard:

    >> I doubt you’ve seen anything like this.

    Star Trek Next Generation: Season 6: Episode 16: Lessons.

    Dear God I am a hopeless Geek.

  16. Speg says:

    Ok the ultimate issue with USB devices is 3 fold.

    1: Are you replacing and shrinking an otherwise usefull appliance for the sake of it ?
    2: Does it Benifit the use of your computing experience ?
    3: Is it innovative ?

    This leaves 14 of your twenty.

    Now removing the ideas that although good, fail in practise.

    3: warmed drinks taste bad, when hot great when warmed bad.
    4: besides its size issue, The business should provide adaquate cooling for you or is breaking the law.
    5: Wireless Mouse … and Keyboard. they can be amazing, but not all of them some drain batteries fast, and some are not respansive. still being kept in the list, just mentioning it though.
    6: the may not here the tap tap tappity tap, but will here the thump F*@King thing Thumpy thump.
    11: online chess games.
    13: Digital microscope, being kept also but surely if you were in a position to have the use of a microscope you would have one of greater stature and ability. great for the home hobiest.
    17: wear gloves. 18: theres better keyboards
    20: real photos are better, but this means you can change your display updating them etc so being kept.

    1/20: its nifty, but the same thing. I want one on a keychain.
    5: If you shell out the time and money, you will find the better ones.
    9: its a missile launcher
    10: Probably the best design, innovative and practical.
    13: For the hobbiest.
    16: Microsoft product ? doubtful but dont you think its would have been obvious to make?
    19: Practically a spy watch, carry secret info … and stuff

  17. foobar says:

    This has to be the worst list of USB devices I’ve EVER read. All of these items are useless CRAP that should be better powered by a freakin wall plug. STOP HOOKING USELESS CRAP UP TO YOUR COMPUTER! IDIOTS!

    Necessities for USB:
    1. keyboard
    2. mouse
    3. phone tether (blackberry to sync – although bluetooth is easier)
    4. external hard drive

  18. what about a usb greenhouse for those bonzai pot plants?

  19. Chris says:

    Seriously, the USB Basketball game is HORRIBLE! A Co-Worker brought his in. It doesn’t even work right. If you make the basket it won’t count the points, however, if you miss and hit the rim, it will. This list is JUNK!

  20. Courtney says:

    I have a photo keychain and it currently has 167 pictures on it and room for more!!

    Cool post!

  21. asadi says:

    Remove the “don’t” from the title of this post and it will be perfectly accurate.

  22. InTheNameOfAllThingsLazy says:

    This is for all the people who are wondering, like me – why, why, why does one need a USB powered sharpener/refrigerator/thingummyjig? We need them, so those of us who already spend most of their time glued to their desktops will have even fewer reasons to get up and walk about. How wonderful it would to not have to spend 5 calories to walk to the full size refrigerator to grab a soda! Or play a basketball game without having to do the exercise! Just extend arm, insert pencil into USB sharpener and let it do the work, why strain your wrist?

    Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome…Muscular Dystrophy!!!

  23. Evileye says:

    Yep, this is more a list of useless items that do suck. You have a list of USB gadgets, and you don’t mention plain old flash drives?

    1) I’ve seen and sold photo keychains when I worked in retail. They do suck. Bad memory so you don’t get a lot of room, the size of the pictures is also bad, as is the resolution. Sure you can pay more to get a better quality, but I have a better solution: Cell Phone. Every moderm cell phone has a camera, and even if it doesn’t, it has a bigger screen, better resolution, and is all around more useful.

    2) Useless in that 10,000 phone numbers really isn’t that much room in memory. Any good phone has at least 64mb on itself, with some kind of memory slot (hopefully micro SDHC) so you can stick in another 2gb for $10.

    3) While at first it seems kind of cool, you would be an idiot to not have a fridge or microwave, and having this on top is just useless. Might be good if you travel a lot, not for on the road, but for the hotels you stay at.

    4) If you are resorting to USB fans, your office must have some serious issues.

    5) This one makes sense at least.

    6) Nope, no sense. USB keyboards, sure, Flexible ones are crap, and this is from personal experience.

    7) Well, this perhaps if again, you travel a lot, but also, batteries have become a lot cheaper (100 AA batteries for $20) so its not really worth it. I’d rather just buy the batteries and toss em rather then spend 12 bucks to recharge two batteries over and over. This doesn’t factor in the time it takes to charge them.

    8) Just no . . . . Mechanical pencil or pen. What year are you living in?

    9) Fail.

    10) Reasonably priced? $50 for 512mb?? How long ago did you start looking at technology? 3 months? Any decent USB MP3 player is just another flash drive, and I’ve sold 4gb ones for $20.

    11) Fail again.

    12) How powerful is this? From its size, you would assume not.

    13) Okay, this can be useful and fun.

    14) Fail.

    15) See the coffee heater.

    16) This can be useful if there weren’t already wireless mouse with these functions.

    17) Fail.

    18) Fail.

    19) I can see this being somewhat useful if it was waterproof.

    20) Somewhat useful, but overpriced.

  24. bob says:

    The heating cooling cup is cool since you don’t even see many cooling cups around.
    Fridge is kinda useful too. Fan seems kinda pointless since there’s tons of portable fans around.
    USB wireless mouse is so standard it’s kind of pointless though. Might as well put a flash drive on the list.

    Flexi-keyboard is kinda cool but the one I have anyway doesn’t work so well. Without hard keys, you have to press on them from at pretty much a 90 degree angle for it to work. Maybe they have better ones though.

    Battery charger is pretty useful, especially if you have a lot of wireless equipement.

    Microscope doesn’t seem that useful since anyone who really needs a microscope would purchase a better one than this.

    Not sure how many ppl need a portable humidifier. If you’re sensitive to dry air you usually just get a real humidifier at your work or home and can handle short amounts of time anywhere else.

    Digital photo frames are so old though. Not worth it.

    The rest of the stuff is pretty cool/useful

  25. noresearchhuh says:

    I don’t see how 5 volts is going to heat anything. Those beverage warmers have been panned on every review I’ve read. Did you even try the stuff you’re listing here?

  26. Drew Angell says:

    You forgot about! 🙂

  27. fishmammal says:

    re:Bob – January 1st, 2009 at 8:19 am
    >> 18. Roll-up Musical Keyboard:
    >> I doubt you’ve seen anything like this.
    Star Trek Next Generation: Season 6: Episode 16: Lessons.

    Wouldn’t you know it…
    here are some photobucket images with the star trek episode – “lessons” does have a roll up keyboard – but btw: is it ST:TNG Season 6 – EP: 19.

  28. Fuzzy says:


    “4: besides its size issue, The business should provide adaquate cooling for you or is breaking the law.”

    If you don’t know it, the people in your office think you’re a pain in the @ss. Oh let’s call the air conditioning police or perhaps the Chilly Swat Team. What a maroon and spelled it that way on purpose. We’ve all heard whiners like you before, full of BS and nothing constructive. Breaking the law…shut UP.

  29. Paul says:

    One of the most useful USB gadgets is a bluetooth transmitter. Sure, most of the laptops made these days include bluetooth, but a lot of older computers don’t, or don’t support the newest protocols (like A2DP). My adapter lets me use my stereo bluetooth headset with my computer and sync my blackberry wirelessly.

  30. Dustin D. Bowles says:

    These all suck.

  31. 800HighTech says:

    Not can decide if these are useless, stupid, or damn right amazing!

  32. daddy says:

    The flexible keyboards do suck for long-term typing because of the lack of feedback but I’ve been using one since my son was born and you sort of get used to he. He’s sprayed milk on it and puked on it and it’s not a problem at all – just a quick wipe. Now if it were a regular keyboard… ewwww.

  33. Zeno says:

    The title says “More than Just Novelties.”

    Given the contents of your list, I find this misleading.

  34. Brad says:

    So the humidifier is cool, until it shorts out your computer… haha

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  36. Scott says:

    Just ordered a beverage warmer/cooler (there is a version with a 4-port USB hub and clock and temp display for 16.99). It probably won't totally rock, but I would rather drink warm coffee than room temperature coffee and a cool soda rather than a RT soda. I am forever getting so caught up in programming or whatever that RT coffee and sodas are all too common an experience. Yeah I could zap it or put it back in the fridge or freezer, but I would be forever doing that. It's actually *good* that the coffee is warm not hot, because hot coffee breaks down and tastes like crap. Plus I get a backlit clock, which I need. Even has an alarm 🙂

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