Monday, April 6, 2009

SkyMall Shopping Spree, Part Two

I've decided to take another stroll around the SkyMall. . .

Travel Toothbrush Sanitizer:
"This compact device from VIOlight uses proven germicidal UV technology (the same kind trusted to sanitize hospital instruments) to eliminate up to 99% of the millions of germs that can accumulate on your toothbrush... The battery-powered device sanitizes a single toothbrush in less than seven minutes."

So, this is the same type of thing they use to sanitize scalpels and whatnot between surgeries? And you use this on your own personal (i.e. not communal) toothbrush? It seems a little bit excessive.

Children's ATM Bank:
"This is the electronic bank teller machine that helps children learn money management as they maintain a savings account up to $999.99. The machine accepts real coin and bill deposits and gives up-to-date account information on its screen. Young depositors interact with the teller on its screen, and have their own ATM card and PIN for checking account balance, making deposits, or withdrawing funds."

Hm. I guess this might be more interesting to a modern kid than the "old school" ceramic piggy bank, but the ATM format seems odd to me. I associate ATMs with taking money out-- not putting money in. Besides, it seems silly to spend $35 on a "toy" that's supposed to teach kids how to manage money.

(...I wonder if it flashes "insufficient funds" if you try to over-withdraw...?)

Ultrasonic Dog Deterrent:"This patented outdoor behavior modification device quickly and humanely restores peace and quiet for those vexed by a dog's nuisance barking. When a dog barks within range of the birdhouse, it emits a harmless ultrasonic tone, inaudible to humans, that startles the animal into silence. The dog quickly associates its bark with the unpleasant sound which conditions him to curb this undesirable behavior."

This type of thing has always seemed kind of mean to me, but I guess I might feel differently if I had a next-door neighbor with a constantly barking dog. Still, the birdhouse disguise seems sneaky. (g)

Indoor Dog Restroom:
"This ingenious system uses a mat made of antimicrobial, porous artificial turf that gives off an organic scent to attract dogs, so they can be taught quickly that it is an acceptable spot for relieving themselves. The mat sits on top of a plastic insert which allows liquid to drain into the included tray for easy clean-up. The turf yarn is a unique construction specially designed for use with dogs, and its antimicrobial composition helps prevent odors. The tray is easy to empty and can hold up to two gallons of liquid."

First, ew. I don't care that they say it "helps prevent odors"; I have a feeling you'll still catch a whiff now and then. If you can't find a better solution, I'm sure it's preferable to having the dog "go" just anywhere-- but I must still reiterate: Ew.

Second: What is this mysterious "organic scent" that attracts the dog and makes it eager to go wee-wee, and how can I make sure it doesn't occur naturally in my home?

Third: The tray holds up to two gallons of liquid? That seems like a lot, but maybe if you have a Great Dane or a Grand Pyrenees...

SkyRest Travel Pillow:Finally a product that it makes sense to advertise on airplanes. (g)

I wonder how difficult this large pillow would be to inflate? That's the only problem I can see with this product. Well, that and the fact that everyone around will be fighting the urge to stare at you and your bizarre pillow. Of course, if it's a long overnight flight, those will probably be looks of envy. (I think I might actually be able to sleep on a plane if I had one of these things. Maybe.)

Auto Card Managers (aka ACM Wallet):"The ACM Wallets innovative, patented design allows you to organize, protect and select up to 6 or 12 of your favorite credit, I.D. and membership cards quickly and easily at the push of a button. The ACM's precision card spacing feature is the key to preventing card demagnetization, scratching and premature failure of your cards magnetic strip."

I do try to avoid exposing my credit cards to magnets, but I never dreamed anyone would take their card protection to this level.

"The ACM allows you to organize, protect and select your credit and other cards easier, faster and with less hassle than ever before."

Really? Is it so much easier and faster than just whipping out your wallet and selecting the correct card? Also, if you're a guy, where do you carry this thing? In one of your rear pockets, like an old-fashioned wallet? Seems kind of bulky.

Reading Pen:"The world's only hand-held scanning device that enables all readers to improve comprehension, vocabulary and fluency. Scan a word or line from any printed text and hear the word(s) read aloud."

The entry in the catalog described it as a "discreet device that provides immediate word support to the reader"-- to which I responded, "Oh, yes, very discreet." It reads aloud. How is that discreet? Everyone in earshot will know that Little Jimmy couldn't read such-and-such a word on his own. He might just as well go up to the teacher's desk or lean across the aisle to ask for help. (Online, they mention that it can read aloud from either a built-in speaker or an earphone, which does make a difference.)

A similar item is the SuperPen Translator:"The perfect 'scan and translate' tool, this ideal language translator package provides both mobile and PC based translation. The SuperPen comes complete with a CD containing over 30 downloadable language dictionaries. Scan, Store and Transfer function allows the capture of any printed text, anytime, anywhere! Store up to 1000 pages of text for late transfers to PC, PDA/Smartphone or laptop via USB or IrDA."

Now, that does seem pretty nifty, though I do question how well the translation feature works. If it's not any better than the free translation programs you find online, it's certainly not perfect.

How about some more pet-related products?

Feline Drinking Fountain:The description indicates that it can be used for dogs, as well. The sound of the trickling water is supposed to encourage pets to drink more often, and it's filtered to keep it fresh and appetizing. A nice idea, but I don't think I'll be paying $70 for this luxury item.

Safest Pet Nail Clipper:"This is the only nail clipper that takes the guesswork and trauma out of trimming your pet's nails by sensing the correct cutting depth, preventing you from cutting into the quick--the sensitive tissue below the nail line. Upon inserting your pet's nail between the clipper's blades, a built-in sensor distinguishes between nail tissue and the quick and lights a green LED when a safe trimming depth is reached. A firm squeeze of the easy-to-grip handles cleanly and painlessly clips the nail in one smooth motion."

Sounds pretty fancy. (And for $80, it had better be!)

Pet Crate End Table:"Blending beautifully into your d├ęcor, this handsome slat side end table also offers some advantages for your pet: hide kitty's litter box inside (she'll appreciate the privacy, you'll appreciate how tidy it looks), or let Rover use it as an interior dog house."

We use a crate for Trixie-- where she sleeps at night, and where we can keep her out of mischief sometimes during the day-- and I guess that this is basically the same thing, but for some reason it feels wrong. (g) Maybe because it looks like a piece of furniture built for displaying a pet... like an antique birdcage. In any case, Trixie could never be trusted in something like this. I'm sure she'd be gnawing on the wood in no time.

Dog-Off Deluxe:
"Protects you against hostile dogs wherever you might travel. It creates an uncomfortable, but not harmful, high-frequency sound audible to dogs, but not to humans. A simple 1 to 2 second burst or quick on-off action startles the dog, instinctively deterring its approach from as far away as 20 feet."

It also has "a 'personal alarm' button to trigger an audible alert to startle potential human attackers and a belt clip and built-in flashlight. Don't walk your dog or walk alone without one!"

Ok, that might be useful, but what happens if you use the "dog-dazing" feature while you're walking your own dog? Does it fall over like one of those fainting goats? Does it go into a trance? Or does it merely freak out, making it difficult for you to get yourself and your pet away from the scary stranger-dog?

Also, I think I'd want something with a little more bite to it than an "audible alert" and a flashlight, if I'm worried I'm about to be attacked-- by man or dog! Pass the pepperspray, please.

Traveling Pet Seat:
It's like a baby's car seat or booster seat, but for dogs. I guess it makes sense-- if you have a dog that would fit in it and wouldn't chew the restraints to shreds (and if you're willing to part with the $100 it costs)-- but it looks kind of silly.

Animal Planet Travel Sets:

This is basically just a rolling suitcase with an opening for the dog's head to poke out. It may be very convenient for people who travel with their pets often. For me, however, it's just very silly-looking.

Pet Doorbell:
"This new portable wireless electronic Pet Doorbell Set helps your pets tell you when they need to come in or go out (and no more "accidents") Works for both dogs and cats and any size pet can operate it by simply pushing the Pet Paw transmitter which works up to 100 feet away."

First thought: How cute! Also, this is kind of ingenuous, if you can train your cat or dog to use it as intended.

Second thought: Wait a minute. My dogs already let me know when they want to come or go-- usually by barking or whining. And I think most cats and dogs do the same by barking, mewing, or scratching at the door. So unless you're frequently too far from the door to hear them, this isn't so useful, after all.

Last thought: It would be really cute to see your pet go over and press the doorbell, but probably not $70-worth of cute. (g)

I think that's enough window-shopping for a while. But in the pages ahead, I spy some real doozies...