Is Batman the Biggest Gadget Freak on the Planet?
Some Joker once asked, "Where does he get those wonderful toys?" Think about it for a second: Besides enjoying a healthy night life, the Caped Crusader is probably the biggest gadget freak on the planet (our own Dan Tynan excepted, of course). As a fashion plate bedecked with nifty electronic doodads and as owner of a cave full of other cool hardware, Batman is the kind of gizmo enthusiast we can get behind.
So, in honor of the July 18 release of "The Dark Knight," the new Batman movie, we've assembled some potential crime-fighting support gear worthy of a couple of late-night sorties through Gotham City.
All you need now is a traumatic childhood incident and a lifetime of martial arts training. Don't get any funny ideas.
DISCLAIMER: PC World makes no promises that assembling said gadgets will make you a bete noire (or bat noire) to the criminal element in your metropolis. Do not attempt to jump from high buildings, fashion a Lycra outfit to wear outside the house, or--under any circumstances--put on underwear outside your pants. --Darren Gladstone
Holy Shuttlecock, Batman: The Flee Flying Digital Camera
Okay, I think Batman would be interested in this little gizmo that you toss and watch as it takes pictures at predetermined intervals during its flight through the air. The tail of the Flee Flying Digital Camera is designed to keep it stable; and the designer, Hakan Bogazpinar, envisions that the Flee would use Bluetooth to send the photos back to your mobile phone. Batman would obviously be in a position to throw the Flee from more-interesting places (the sides of tall buildings, under Gotham City bridges, etc.), but we wouldn't mind just tossing this around our local park.
Unfortunately, so far, the Flee is just a concept device, but perhaps Bruce Wayne and his millions could get involved! --Anne B. McDonald
Bat Army Knife
Batman has a gadget for just about everything on his renowned utility belt, right? Well, what if you had a single gadget that contained just about everything. Wenger's Giant Swiss Army Knife V1.0, (which makes me fear the prospect of a Service Patch), comprises 85 implements with 110 functions. Oh, sure, you can do pedestrian stuff like unscrewing the bolts connecting the Joker's latest death-device, cutting through ropes when the Scarecrow ties you down, or hotwiring the Batmobile because Aunt Harriet lost the keys.
But what about during off-hours? That's when Bruce Wayne will appreciate the golf divot repair tool and the cupped cigar cutter attachments. Besides, who else is gonna spring for this $1499 monstrosity? --Darren Gladstone
The Perfect Batphone?
Could Batman use a touch-screen phone with his Batgloves? That has yet to be determined, but in terms of its sheer looks (and flashy ad campaign), the HTC Touch Diamond looks to be a perfect fit for Bruce Wayne's alter ego. It'll take a trans-Pacific journey via Batmobile and Batboat to pick one up--they're available only in Taiwan--but this sleek 3G Windows Mobile phone has an amazing screen to accompany its 3.2-megapixel autofocus camera, plus Internet Explorer and Opera for browsing the Web (what, no Fireflyingfox?) and a music player that Gotham's finest can use to play Prince's "Batdance" on repeat.
It's thinner than the iPhone 3G, and it packs in GPS, a video camera, and a YouTube-friendly upload feature.
Alas, the Touch Diamond does not have an integrated grappling hook, but Batman has that covered with his own proprietary device. --Tim Moynihan
Pocket Microscope for Evidence Gathering
Batman can guide himself through the night like, well, a bat out of stately Wayne Manor. But when it comes to collecting evidence (think Riddler clues) to make Police Commissioner Gordon's job easier, we think that Batman ought to look into 3R Systems' Vitiny pocket microscope.
Easily tucked into a pocket in the Batcape, this little item has a 1.8-inch LCD display, 2MB of memory, and a 24X-90X zoom. The heroic anthropochiropter can click and store about 20 (probably not very detailed) images of anything he's curious enough to peer at and want to show to the commissioner later. --Anne B. McDonald
Bat Communications: The Wi-Fi Detector Shirt
You know how Bruce Wayne got so rich? He's cheap! Rather than pony up for a cellular data card or get milked by Comcast on a monthly basis, he runs around town glomming free Wi-Fi wherever he can find it. Fortunately, ThinkGeek's WiFi Detector T-Shirt has his back (and the rest of his upper torso).
He just plugs a couple of AAA batteries into a pouch on the shirt, and it lights up like a Christmas tree as the cowled criminologist nears a Wi-Fi source. What's that? Radiation concerns? Surely that's a small price to pay for fighting crime and updating your Twitter feed at the same time. --Darren Gladstone
Question: Does Batman Ever Get Lost?
The dark streets of Gotham City or Hong Kong can be a labyrinth to navigate--especially if you don't really have any talent for echolocation. That's why even a caped crusader can benefit from a handheld GPS. Just hitting shelves is the new Apple iPhone 3G, resplendent with built-in GPS goodness. But inconveniently for our Dark Knight, the New York Times' David Pogue writes that "the metal of a car or the buildings of Manhattan are often enough to block the iPhone's view of the sky, leaving it just as confused as you are."
If our hero is a little soured on Apple, he should consider sinking his bat fangs into Samsung's Instinct PDA Phone or Garmin's Colorado 400 series of handheld GPS devices (pictured). The 400 series models boast a Bat-Signal-bright 3-inch color display, worldwide basemap with shaded relief or satellite imagery, 3D map view, barometric altimeter (finally!), and electronic compass. And--depending on the model--you can get built-in U.S. topographic maps (perfect for locating the highest peak to brood on) or coastal water charts (no Aquabat vehicle should leave port without one). --Danny Allen
Batman has to be germophobic. The guy wears full protection from head-to-toe. At some point, though, he'll need to wash his hands, eat, or--God forbid--sack out undercover at some grimy hotel in Gotham's red light district.
Hence the need for this special UV wand. Just wave it over whatever's freaking you out--cell phone, door knob or those crusty bedsheets--and 99.9 percent of accumulated germs will laugh themselves to death. No! They'll be zapped, as "intense ultraviolet radiation emanates from a lens on the face." (Health advisory: Not recommended for giving yourself an erstaz suntan if you're a creature of the night.) Remember, cleanliness is next to battiness! --Darren Gladstone
Bat Toy! Palm-Size Radio-Controlled Helicopters
Well, even big-city crimefighters must have some down time, and what better way to have a little fun AND at the same time annoy coworkers like Alfred, Robin, and Chief O'Hara than to buzz them with a tiny helicopter? (Careful: We see you warming up to the idea.)
When it comes to miniature guided aircraft, there's an embarrassment of riches out there. We haven't tested any of these models, so we can't advocate one over another, but you can check out the MicroHelicopter in flight on this company site, whipping its rotors to some seriously annoying accompanying music. Prices range from about $25 to $50 each. 'Nuff said. --Anne B. McDonald
Camera Takes a Licking and Keeps on Clicking
As anyone can tell you, a superhero who is half-man, half-bat, and all paparazzo needs a point-and-shoot digital camera that can take a serious beating at the malicious hands (or flippers) of evildoers like the Joker or the Penguin. Enter the Olympus Stylus 850SW, a supertough 8-megapixel camera that can withstand being dropped onto the Gotham streets from distances of up to 5 feet, being dunked underwater to a depth of 10 feet, and even being exposed to subzero temperatures for those great snowboarding-with-Robin shots that the 'Man likes to take. It's not just tough, either, offering face detection and digital image stabilization features, as well. Yes, this durable camera is even perfect for postbattle buddy shots with DC super-stablemate, Green Lantern. --Tim Moynihan
BatCave Security PC
Just because you call a sprawling underground network "home" doesn't mean you need to fill it with a billion supercomputers. Or go the hard-core route of some PC modders.
Instead, try settling on one small PC that at least looks the part--and Shuttle's D10 is a black-box PC tailor-made for highly evolved troglodytes.
This multimedia machine has a 7-inch touch panel, and the software running the show in Windows is easy for even aging butlers to use. Granted, it's not as large or as sexy as HP's TouchSmart IQ506, for instance, but the Surveillance model of this small PC--designed to work with multiple Webcams--makes the D10 perfect for keeping close watch over your gear while the Bat's away. --Darren Gladstone