If you have a look for top cool USB devices, you will find plenty of lists out there with rather boring choices. In fact most of the devices are simple memory sticks whose main means of standing out from the crowd is to have an unusual form factor. Now I like funky form factors for my memory sticks as much as the next person, and some of the memory stick designs do deserve some attention. Some other lists contain things like USB powered missile launchers, heated mugs, etc. all very fun.
But it is still a bit of a shame that you have to look so hard for really interesting USB devices. My list below has been gathered over years and frequently by accidentally discovering them. I’ll add additional ones to the list as I discover them … or if people tell me about ones that interest me :-
And after all that moaning about memory sticks, the very first device on my list is a memory stick! But a rather different one :-
The difference is hinted at by the little buttons on the memory stick. This is a hardware encrypted memory stick where the encryption is implemented within the stick itself rather than rely on a piece of software that may or may not work with your current operating system.
You can tell this is a more geeky product just by the fact that the sales picture shows the device naked :-
What this does is provide a source of genuinely random numbers that can be used by Linux to add entropy to the standard random numbers device. To most people, this is a pretty uninteresting device, but anyone involved with cryptography is undoubtedly saying Cool! and has probably clicked on the title link to disappear from this posting to go and get one.
As you may very well guess from the really naked picture of this device, it is probably the geekiest device in this list. It is effectively a software radio limited to the 2.4GHz band and is intended as a device for hacking bluetooth. Think of it as a WiFi sniffer but for bluetooth; although it can do quite a bit more.
The Zalman Hard Disk Enclosure
Your average USB hard disk enclosure (for putting an appropriate spare internal hard disk in) is not exactly exciting, and this device is one of those “stealth” devices that becomes more interesting the deeper you look at it :-
Note the little LCD display. What you cannot see is a little job-wheel which is the input device to control the functions. This little box of tricks allows you to select an ISO file contained within a subdirectory named _ISO and the firmware emulates a CD-ROM with that ISO inserted into it. Yes, you can now carry around as many CDs as you want and use them to boot from.