From an extra-rugged smartphone to the perfect grilling fork, these 10 high-tech toys are ideal for summer
Summer gadget guide 2011
Casio G'zOne Commando
Nike+ SportWatch GPS
G-Form iPad Extreme Sleeve
Brookstone Always Perfect Chef's Fork with Digital Meat Thermometer
Pentax Optio WG-1
Éton American Red Cross Axis Self-Powered Safety Hub
iRobot Scooba 230
Polaris Ranger EV
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iRobot Scooba 230
Summer means lots of time spent outdoors -- and that means a nearly constant stream of dirt, mud, sand and more dirt tracked inside. The Scooba floor-washing robot is perfect for the inevitable cleanup chores on hard floor surfaces such as linoleum, tile, slate and sealed hardwood.
It works in several stages to prep the room with a cleaner, scrub the grime, vacuum up the suds and glide over the area like a squeegee. The bot uses artificial intelligence to watch out for ridges, drop-offs and tight corners.
The latest version, the $300 Scooba 230, is iRobot's smallest model yet, weighing 3 lbs. and measuring about 6.5 in. across. It's meant for smaller rooms with tight spaces, such as a bathroom or small kitchen, although you can use the included room dividers to cordon off a larger area. Unlike its larger brethren, the Scooba 230 does not vacuum the floor before cleaning, so you'll need to sweep first.
In my tests, the Scooba worked as promised, cleaning a laundry room of about 150 square feet in approximately 40 minutes while I relaxed. The robot was fun to watch and worked autonomously, but the final results were also impressive. Because of the final squeegee pass, the floor shone brighter than it would after a typical mop washing.
Note that the battery lasts for only one duty cycle of about 40 minutes before needing a recharge, which takes 8 hours, so it's really a one-room-at-a-time prospect. On the plus side, the Scooba 230's diminutive size, light weight and flip-up carrying arm make it easy to transport to the beach house or wherever your summer takes you.