EVERYBODY'S a multitasker these days. And thrilled with devices that can do more with less. The onslaught started years ago in the kitchen, of all places, with the likes of those multifunction ("but wait, there's more") slicer/dicer/choppers/churners immortalized by TV pitchman Ron Popeil. Now there's a whole lotta shaking, baking and making going on in the kitchen kapers department.
Dyson Hard: If British inventor Sir James Dyson has his way, we'll soon keep a variety of Dyson vacs - little and tall, battery-powered and plug-in - around the house. The new Hard ($329.99 at Target and Bed, Bath and Beyond) is the first to combine dust-sucking and washing in a slim-line, cordless stick. Hard's also dandy for tile and wooden floors. And converts to a hand vac.
Slotted, bladed openings fore and aft on the floor head pull debris into a holding tank while a wet wipe neatly secured to the head's midsection simultaneously does a light once-over. For sure, this combo punch makes the 10-second food pickup rule less dangerous to practice.
It uses the same size cleaning pads as a Swiffer, though you should stick with Dyson's wood-floor-nourishing variety, formulated with beeswax for sparkle and protection.
Cuisinart Combo Steam and Convection Oven: Billed as the first countertop appliance to combine a full-featured convection oven with an optional steaming function, this multi-tasker ($299 at Williams-Sonoma) doesn't just make food faster, it's also juicier and healthier.
Gizmo Guy roasted a super tender and moist, 5-pound chicken in an hour. It also fast-baked delicious loaves of bread, and it toasts, too. The 47-ounce water reservoir is easy to remove and fill, and delivers up to two hours of uninterrupted steam.
The box is on the cumbersome side as these things go - 19 inches wide, 11 inches high, almost 15 inches deep and weighing 22 pounds. And dialed-in controls take time to master.
DeskMate HSC 230 Headset: Gizmo Guy loves to carry on a phone conversation and cook dinner at the same time with a Panasonic DECT 6.0 Plus cordless phone clipped to my belt (the clip comes with) and a wired headset resting on my noggin. A Plantronics M210C headset ($25 at Headsets.com) does the job well, but if you're making a lot of racket while you work, the Sennheiser DeskMate HSC 230 ($133.90 at the same site) offers more serious noise suppression, virtually eliminating the sound of running water and even coffee beans grinding, as far as friends on the other side of the line were concerned.
The uber versatile HSC 230 offers swap-out, quick-connect cables so you have the option (at a price) to use the headset with an office or mobile phone. Designed for hours of wear - the Sennheiser's boom mike element is nicely adjustable (much more so than on the Plantronics), and the padded ear cushion quite comfy.