USB coffee cup warmer for dummies

Way back in my March 13 issue, I revealed a laugh-out-loud invention: a coffee cup warmer (available only from a Tokyo site that was written entirely in Japanese) that plugs into the USB port of your laptop. This lets you use it where power outlets are scarce.

That sparked quite a discussion in my April 10 issue. Several readers reported that the mini-appliance worked only on pre-heated cans of coffee that are sold from a special type of vending machine that’s common in Japan. No one knew of any USB coffee heaters for the rest of us.

Finally, reader Marleen Wanders has found a USB coffee mug warmer that works with any flat-bottomed cup. The AS-1420905 (pictured above left) plugs into any USB port and has a convenient on-off switch.

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Unfortunately, the reviews I was able to find on this little gadget were only lukewarm.

Blogger Michael Cruft found, after opening the case, that it doesn’t even have a heating element. The gizmo’s inventor apparently thought that the heat byproduct of two voltage regulators would keep coffee warm! If you’re still interested, though, the usually reliable Cyberguys at least have the decency to sell the unit for only $16.95 plus shipping. At it’s $24.99.

But if you need to keep a beverage warm, who isn’t near a power strip these days? Unless you commonly sip your coffee while drifting on an ice floe, I’d suggest you simply get an AC-powered warmer plate.

The best one I found – with a real ceramic base and a 3-foot cord – is at the Vermont Country Store for $16.95. If you’d prefer a cheap plastic one (priced from $10 to $13), the slickest unit is at Kitchen Etc., followed by TableTools, Home Marketplace, and RollingPin. The Kitchen Etc. model boasts 18 watts of power, which no USB port will ever be able to match (USB is limited to 2.5 watts).

That’s the end of our “geek survival tools” discussion for today!
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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2003-09-18: