Unitasker Wednesday: USB-Powered Foot Warmer

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

Some of my favorite unitaskers are USB powered devices — the USB-powered eyelash curler, the USB pet rock, the USB-powered hamster wheel. This week’s unitasker is USB powered, and quite possibly the most dangerous unitasker we’ve encountered in awhile. Introducing the USB-powered foot warmer:

I appreciate the theory behind this contraption (I certainly don’t enjoy having cold toes), but I can think of a couple scenarios where this isn’t a good idea:

  1. In an office environment the last thing I want to smell is my co-worker’s stinky feet “warming” from the adjacent cubicle.
  2. Standing up, forgetting your slipper is attached to your computer, and pulling your laptop onto the floor, shattering your laptop into a million pieces.

I’m sure I could think of more, but these two seem to be decent arguments against this unitasker. I’m also unsure of why you would need one of these especially since there are high-utility things like socks, shoes, and blankets already in your home. Not to forget you also have to shell out $20 and give up a USB port to use the foot warmer, which make it even less desirable.

Thanks go to reader Erika for introducing us to yet another USB-powered unitasker.

27 Comments for “Unitasker Wednesday: USB-Powered Foot Warmer”

  1. posted by Liz on

    Actually, that sounds pretty neat! I have more USB ports easily accessible and available than regular outlets, usually. And my feet are often so cold when I’m sitting at my computer. Socks aren’t enough when you have bad circulation or many other issues where your feet just don’t produce enough heat to begin with. I have mine in socks rights now and they are freezing despite it being in the 70s in my home. I sometimes use an electric blanket, but it’s harder to keep wrapped tight around my feet and it’s a pain to drag out when usually I need it most for my feet.

    Of course, I’d use this at home — not at work. Well, unless I was working from home ;)

    And I don’t think it’d be such a pull out risk since you won’t get far without noticing with your feet in a single slipper like that.

  2. posted by Bethany on

    I received an electric throw for Christmas and I absolutely love it. And it can warm up ANY cold part of my body!

  3. posted by Amy on

    I’ve gotta say, I like it! Not enough to buy it, but it seems neat.

  4. posted by Andrew on

    “pulling your laptop onto the floor, shattering your laptop into a million pieces.”

    That’s what Chromebooks are for!

    /sarcasm

  5. posted by Anthony on

    Erin, though I too appreciate the idea for the USB foot warmers, I have visions of falling (similar to your accident (URL: http://unclutterer.com/2011/01/10/preparing-for-the-unexpected/) flashing in my head (beyond the idea of having one’s computer/laptop crashing to the ground).

    I can think of cheaper and better ways to keep my feet warm too (cuddling with my wife). ;-)

  6. posted by Keter on

    As the proud owner of 4 7-port, individually powered USB hubs, I can attest to one thing that will stop unitaskers like this COLD… Even if you are using individually-powered hubs like mine, if you draw too much current through your USB network, your computer will begin to act like it is on crack. Seriously. I ran into this with a USB powered scanner and cellular modem on the same hub. It not only made the items attached to that hub malfunction, it made the rest of the USB network unstable. I have 4 hubs not because I have that many USB devices, I have 4 hubs because I have 4 essential devices that draw a lot of current, and one per hub is what I have to do to keep my network stable.

  7. posted by Rachael on

    I work in a converted grocery store on an almost-uninsulated wall, and my toes are never warm enough! I have been eying one of these (less ugly, though – more like a regular footrest) on Amazon, but talked myself out of it because we’re moving to a new building this summer. But this is one unitasker I can definitely appreciate.

  8. posted by Robin on

    I’d say the USB powered coffee cup-warmer wins as most dangerous USB device. These though… Well, I’m torn. I generally have a blanket wound around my feet when teleworking but tripping is always a threat and, frankly, cold feet don’t do much to warm up a blanket. On the other hand, I can’t imagine a circumstance under which I’d buy these.

  9. posted by Anita on

    You know, under almost any other circumstances, I’d laugh at this. But:
    (1) it is extra-cold in my office today; I took a few breaks just to go to the washroom and run my hands under hot water to warm up a bit;
    (2) my work computer sits on the floor, and I mainly use the USB ports in my monitor to connect things, so the ports on my actual tower are mostly unused; and
    (3) even if socks were effective at keeping my feet warm (not really), I’d have to take them off every time I want to put on my shoes to go walk out of my office (since my pumps are not exactly thick sock-friendly), which would probably create more inconvenience (and possibly smell?) than just putting my feet in this thing.

    I think this is a seasonal unitasker. If you had posted this in the summer, everyone (or almost) would be laughing at it. But post it on a cold day, and it’ll start to seem like a good idea for some reason :)

  10. posted by Robin on

    Um, I just noticed that there’s a USB-powered shoe dryer as well. Can someone explain the USB powered craze that’s going on? Why, why, why? There are a few situations where you want something to be USB-powered (computer perhiphals and accessories, for instance) but what good does it do to have my toaster be USB-powered? Do I not have enough electrical outlets?

  11. posted by Nana on

    Suggestion for the cold-footed…a heating pad. Either electric or microwavable. Enough “give” to wrap around the feet…or simply rest feet over or under it.

  12. posted by Leslie on

    I once melted the bottoms of my shoes when I stuck my feet on top of a floor heater to warm up from the snow/ice I slogged through to get to the office. I could have used this. Of course it would be awkward trying to walk in it while carrying my laptop-I had, after all, just melted my sneakers.

  13. posted by genie on

    Right this instant, my wool socked feet are sitting atop an electric hot pad on a couch pillow (on the floor) as my feet are otherwise FREEZING. Yes, it’s cold out now, but even on more moderate days, my feet still would keep an ice chest cold. While the USB part might not be ideal, a dedicated foot warmer that plugged in would make me very very happy. I’ve also looked at the heated footstools on Amazon and hinted to hubby for Valentines day. Though, maybe my pillow hack will be enough… If not for that and lots of hot tea, I might well have frozen solid.

  14. posted by Celeste on

    A space heater is a better idea. It’ll keep your legs warm too, which is often an issue in a cold office if your feet are cold.

    To me this is less than a unitasker (a zero-tasker) if it can indeed cause the computer to work poorly. It’s bad enough to hog the port, but this would push it over the functionality line.

  15. posted by Raf on

    I’d be tempted to get this only because I’m a sucker for any and all things Doraemon related.

  16. Avatar of

    posted by Laetitia in Australia on

    I have USB powered fingerless gloves for typing at the computer on cold days. If I get up to move away and forget that I’m plugged in, the plug is designed to ‘break away’. I can go pick something up, come back and plug my gloves back in. I expect this will have a similar feature. However, even if it doesn’t, wouldn’t you remember that you’re using this device when you had to move one foot away from the other to walk?

  17. posted by deb on

    I’m a sucker for a foot warmer, my toes can be cold even in summer (and I have no circulation problems). One of the best things I ever bought for my desk is a Vornado Sole Air. It’s not only a foor warmer but also a foot rest, which is essential for proper ergonomics. I also work alone at home so nobody can smell my feet warming:)

  18. posted by Gooch on

    @ Robin:
    I think that USB is slowly becoming a global standard for low powered devices. From a manufacturer’s/designer’s perspective it cuts down immensely on the cost of manufacturing for the worldwide market to not have to worry about dueling plugs, voltages, and AC frequencies. There is even a new wall socket being released in the US that incorporates a powered USB socket to charge devices.

    Want to see just how far USB can be taken? dealextreme.com is scary for the kinds of things people use USB power for. Very scary…

  19. posted by Ashley on

    Ok, this concept might not make sense in the US or other Western countries, but here in Japan, people use this kind of stuff often and in a work environment (no separate offices or cubicles – everyone has desks next to each other in one large room) these actually make sense. Women plug in small heaters, or foot Warmers or blankets discreetly, but sometimes there is no place to plug stuff in, so the USB hub would come in handy (and the risk of pulling the laptop off the desk would be low, especially for those who put the cord behind the desk). So really, this may seem useless, but another culture would beg to differ. Be glad there is central heating over there… We don’t have any here in Japan.

  20. posted by Tamera on

    I’m sharing this item with a friend. She has Scleroderma and cold hands and feet are a major health concern for her. I’m sure she uses heating pads and such, but this might be amusing to have something different.

  21. posted by Argent on

    You don’t have to plug a USB powered device into a USB port, you can plug it into a USB power-only wall socket.

    Obligatory moment of shame:

    At one point I was charging my cellphone with a wall socket-to-lighter-socket adapter connected to a lighter-socket-to-USB-power adapter, because my computer didn’t have enough oomph and I didn’t have a wall-to-USB adapter lying around.

  22. posted by OogieM on

    @robin USB is a more universal standard for low and medium power devices. Fewer plugs and easier to deal with the various different electric systems world wide.

  23. posted by Keter on

    @Deb – I was interested in the Vornado Sole Air cuz I need an ergonomic footstool, and would love one that warms (I’m among those whose feet are always cold). Unfortunately, Vornado has gone out of business and these are no longer available.

  24. posted by vbeanka on

    Actually, I’ve been wanting one of these. I work at home and work in front of the computer all day long and my feet are always cold. Shelling our 20 bucks for one of these seems like a more economical option than raising my thermostats. Also, I’d think this is perfect for those who live in area without central heating (like South Eastern China).

  25. posted by Homestead on

    I confess. I have a “cozy rest” heated foot rest at work… but it isn’t USB powered. It is plugged into my “green” powerstrip so it only turns on when my machine is on.

    Mine looks like this one: http://www.jlryan.com/main/product.asp?prodcode=INDTOO-CT

    Am I a nerd?

  26. posted by Rachel on

    Regarding coworkers’ stinky feet:

    Erin, you were probably trying to be funny, but I don’t get what this product has to do with stinky feet. If they stink, you’ll smell them with or without a foot warmer. That’s a hygiene issue that has nothing to do with a foot warmer.

  27. Avatar of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @Rachel — In my experience, warming feet up causes them (often) to sweat. The warm and moist environment created in the foot warmer then help stinky bacteria grow, increasing the stench. At least, that is what we learned in science class — that bacteria like to grow in warm, moist environments.

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