February 07, 2012, 9:24 PM — The scoop: Canvio 3.0 Plus external hard drive, by Toshiba, about $180 (1TB version).
What is it? The latest external hard drive from Toshiba features 1TB of storage capacity, a USB 3.0 connection (with USB 2.0 support), a free 30-day trial of cloud backup software, file/folder data encryption (256-bit, via password protection), an internal shock sensor to protect it from drops, and a drive space alert system that tells you if the drive is full.
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Why it's cool: Compared with USB 2.0 drives, the USB 3.0 interface will allow for speedier file data transfers between your PC and the drive - in our tests we achieved between 85M-86Mbps of read speeds, and about 53M-56Mbps of write speeds - these aren't the fastest I've seen with USB 3.0 (the upper range is about 95M-100Mbps), but they are faster than USB 2.0 drives.
Some caveats: No Mac-to-Windows integration; while you can copy files from the drive to a Mac, you can't copy files from a Mac to the hard drive unless you reformat. Other drives I've tested (Seagate, in particular) include a driver that lets you copy Mac files to the Windows-based drive without reformatting.
Grade: 4 stars (out of five)
The scoop: Agloves touchscreen-enabled winter gloves, by Agloves, about $18.
What are they? We're in the middle of winter here in the Northeast, so I recently acquired a pair of winter gloves (mittens, if you want to get technical) that let you operate a touch-screen device (smartphone or tablet) without removing the gloves. The Agloves include tiny particles of silver woven into the gloves to help create the bioelectricity needed to operate the touchscreen.
Why it's cool: Other winter gloves that attempt this either have a fingertip part that disconnects to expose your finger to let you use the touch-screen, or they only allow for one or two fingers (usually the index finger and thumb) to operate the screen. With the Agloves, the entire glove becomes available for use, so you can operate a phone with your pinky, or even the back of your hand if you like. In my tests, I was able to unlock my phone, open up an app and even type some simple text messages while using the gloves. As long as the gloves fit (that is, they are tight enough to form-fit around the finger), you should be able to type just fine.
Some caveats: While the gloves work fine in the "does it work?" department, the gloves are less warm when compared with leather or thicker gloves (for example, I wouldn't wear these during a wet snow event or when going skiing), but for everyday use, they're fine.
Grade: 4.5 stars