Dec 19 2013, 4:46pm CST | by Forbes
Christmas comes but once a year, but I’ve put together a short list of last-minute gifts that will be welcome in any garage year-round.
RoboReel - $299
Sometimes the best gifts are gadgets you didn’t even know you wanted, then discover that you can’t live without. RoboReel is one of those. I tested the RoboReel Portable Cord System, and I can’t imagine using a standard “manual” power cord around my garage ever again.
About the size of a basketball, and resembling an orange world globe on a stand, RoboReel contains 50 feet of 12-gauge power cord and a small electric motor. A four-foot pigtail connects the RoboReel to a standard three-prong 110-volt household outlet. Just pull the length of extension cord you need from the RoboReel, connect your power tools, and you’re in business. When you’re done working, press a button on the extension cord’s outlet, and the RoboReel quietly, smoothly recovers the extension cord, calmly rolling it up inside the orange globe. No knots, no tangles, no bulky cord to carry.
The RoboReel can be mounted on your shop wall for easy access. There’s even a ceiling mount version available. The cord is user-replaceable, if you should happen to damage it with an errant circular saw. The RoboReel comes with a 4-year, 4,000-wind warranty, so you can afford to waste a few demo reels to entertain your friends and to drive your shop cat crazy.
BOLT Locks – $27.49 – $40.95
When a gift combines security and convenience, it’s a very good gift. If the lucky person on your list has a late model Chrysler, Ford, Nissan, Toyota or GM SUV or truck, you can make their life a little bit safer and easier with a BOLT lock. “BOLT” stands for “Breakthrough One-Key Lock Technology.” The make a set of padlocks, hitch locks, cable locks and toolbox latches that can be instantly coded to work with your vehicle’s ignition key. By following some very simple instructions, consumers can set up their own locks to work with their ignition keys — no locksmith or dealership visit required.
Unless you’re a high school janitor, you’ll appreciate the fact that you can now unlock your toolbox, secure your tow hitch, lock and unlock your spare tire without having to add a key to your key ring.
BOLT locks come with a limited lifetime warranty. I wish they were available for more makes and models, but the coverage is pretty extensive right now, even including a lot of sedans and coupes. I could envision using the cable lock for a bicycle or motorcycle, and the padlock for general purposes. I seem to have a box of combination locks in my garage that I can no longer open, and padlocks that I have lost keys for. If they were keyed to my SUV’s ignition, I’d never have that problem again.
Car Connection - $169.99
Some people may consider this product a little controversial, but I think it’s pretty great. It’s Car Connection, a device that you plug in to your vehicle’s onboard diagnostics port (OBD-II). Enter some information on the mycar-connection.com website, sign up for a service plan ($9.95/month or $89.95/year plus a one-time $19.95 set up fee), and you can monitor your vehicle over the Internet. You’ll get access to information about your vehicle’s health, location and fuel economy.
The controversial part of the device is that it can also be used to track your vehicle’s movement. You can set safety zones for travel — for instance, you can inform your teenager that they can use the vehicle to go back and forth to work. If the vehicle deviates from the safety zone boundary that you have defined on the website, you’ll receive a notification on your cellphone. Additionally, the Car Connection can also collect and transmit information about driver performance. Was your teen (or wife, or employee) exceeding the speed limit? Were they parked for a long time? Some might see this function as spying or as an invasion of privacy. I’m of the opinion that any tool that can help keep a teenager safe on the road is a good tool. When it comes to adults, that’s a whole other story.
My favorite feature of the Car Connection is called “Lot Spot.” Using a free downloadable cellphone app (iOS or Android), you can figure out where your car was last parked, and get walking directions to the site. So, if you’re like me and you sometimes (okay, frequently) forget where you parked in that giant sea of cars at the mall, Lot Spot can direct you back to where you left your baby.
Fuelshark - $39.95
Do you know someone who swears by Marvel Mystery Oil and other fuel economy solutions? Then perhaps they’ll enjoy testing out a Fuelshark.
Fuelshark is an electronic device that plugs in to your vehicle’s 12-volt outlet, and claims to “regulate the voltage” in your vehicle. “The Fuelshark works by supplementing the required voltage for devices such as lights, stereos, power windows, etc.,” states the packaging. “By using the Fuelshark, your car’s battery does not struggle to provide the additional power needed to operate these devices.” Fuelshark provides testimonials from customers who claim up to a 15% savings in fuel costs when using the device.
Skeptics (and engineers) will poke holes in the concept. Why not give your favorite early adopter the chance to test one for themselves?
Source: Forbes Auto
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